So you have created your new website (or maybe just a new page on your existing website) and you are ready to share it with the world. It looks good, it seems to load ok when you check it, it does the job you intended it did when you first thought but is the HTML valid?.

The first response that may spring to mind when asked this question is - why should I care about HTML validation?, hopefully the reasons below will provide a compelling answers to this question (and hopefully get you to validate your html!):

* Search engine optimisation - if your pages include html errors this may make it difficult for spiders to crawl your site, the knock on effect of this may be that your site does not get indexed as quickly or as completely as you would like. As, for most people, the majority of traffic comes from the search engines this is obviously a very bad thing.

* Eradicate broken links - Broken links can not only be a deterrent to your visitors ( both in terms of looking unprofessional also preventing them accessing what they want to access) but also impair your indexing in the search engines - if the links are broken or incorrect then a spider will not be able to follow them.

* Faster / Better page loads - if a page contains errors then it may not load as quickly or completely as an error free page. It also may not fare as well in terms of cross browser compatibility. Any issues that affect site speed must be taken seriously as they will affect user perception of the site (and therefore may affect user retention, likelihood of purchases etc)

* Perception of quality - if you have undergone a html validation process then you should not have errors or incorrect presentation on your page - two things that can seriously damage the perception of your site.

* Backwards compatibility - Properly written HTML is more likely to be compatible with future versions of web browsers as and when they are released (code that not had any html validation is extremely unlikely to have such compatibility)

* Compliance with Standards - it is becoming increasingly important for sites to be compliant with the various web access / presentation standards - valid html will help achieve this.

* WYSIWYG bloating - many, but not all, WYSIWYG editors can introduce extra code into web pages, validation should help identify and remove extra, unrequired code from pages.

* Reduce effort - an html validator will help to spot errors early on hence eradicate them quickly and efficiently. They should also help to pinpoint exactly where the error lies within the html code.

So if you accept the fact that html validation is a positive thing to do then what is the best way of carrying out the validation?- I would recommend the use of a html validator online - by using online html validation you avoid the need to download tools to your pc, they are usually free and the responsibility for keeping them up to date lies with someone else.