Version 7.1


by Simon Cox




Online testing suites are a very useful way of checking your website to see if it's up to scratch. I take you through Nibbler from Silktide.

Online testing tool that checks out how your website measures up

I have been evan­ge­lis­ing web stan­dards for quite a few years now and tools that help you test your work are very appre­ci­at­ed and make the tasks a lot eas­i­er. For pure code there is the W3C test­ing suite that tells you where your code is invalid and gives good hints on what to change — though I can imag­ine it could be frus­trat­ing for peo­ple rel­a­tive­ly new to html. W3C also do CSS and feed val­ida­tors. How­ev­er by far my favourite test­ing tool is cur­rent­ly Nib­bler from Silk­tide. Sev­er­al years ago Silk­tide released a cut down on-line ver­sion of its com­mer­cial ser­vice called Sitescore but they were very quick­ly over­whelmed with peo­ple test­ing out sites and there real empha­sis had to go back to the com­mer­cial tool and the free ser­vice was demised. Sitescore has now mor­phed into Sit­eR­ay and ver­sion 4 is on the way. Some­how they have man­aged to do a small side project of anoth­er cut down ver­sion of their test­ing suite — this time they have named it Nibbler.

Nib­bler tests a web­site across a large range of auto­mat­ed tests. Auto­mat­ed means that they are not per­fect but will take you most of the way there which is a very good start and more than most even think about.

You just put the URL into the test field and press the test but­ton and a minute or two lat­er you have the score.
As of the 9th of Feb­ru­ary 2010 this site, simon​cox​.com, is scor­ing 7.9 out of 10 — and that’s pret­ty good — veer​le​.duoh​.com, alistapart​.com and www​.w3​.org all have the same score so I am in good com­pa­ny. www​.silk​tide​.com is only 0.1 points ahead and they are the experts.

Nib­bler runs the fol­low­ing tests:
Social media
Incom­ing links
URL for­mat
Inof­fen­sive con­tent
Alter­na­tive text
Meta tags
W3C com­pli­ance

and the report will give you some good clues on what’s wrong and how to fix. I will point out that this is cur­rent­ly in alpha but I have raised a cou­ple of issues with them on Get Sat­is­fac­tion and they have respond­ed very quick­ly. For exam­ple yes­ter­day on one site was doing very bad­ly for feeds so I rebuilt the feed and added the meta tags so that it could be found. The report said that although it had found the feed it had not been updat­ed for over a month — I had 10 new items in the feed for the last 8 days so some­thing was wrong. Andy from Silk­tide spot­ted that I had used the Dublin Core date stamp which was per­fect­ly valid but Nib­bler was not detect­ing it so he fixed it same day — splendid.

I am sure a lot of peo­ple will get frus­trat­ed with the ini­tial scores from Nib­bler but with a bit of patience and under­stand­ing what’s going on you can real­ly improve your web­site. Not every­one will agree with some of the tests Nib­bler uses but if every site was test­ed against this or sim­i­lar tools then the web would be a much bet­ter place.

Nib­bler can be found at http://​nib​bler​.silk​tide​.com

Note: I have no affil­i­a­tion with Silk­tide but in my day job I do use the full blown ver­sion of Sit­eR­ay to test the web­sites I work on. Nib­bler I use for my per­son­al websites.

And there is more...

19 August 2010
I have just tidied up some of the html on the site — now ful­ly val­i­dates and the site is get­ting a Nib­bler score of 9.2 — very pleased with that and I find the site at no. 54 on the Top 100 on the Nib­bler top 100 chart — sure it won’t stay there for long but its an achievement!

23 August 2010
I have made a few more minor adjust­ments to the site and its now up to a 9.4 rat­ing putting the site 7th on the Nib­bler top 100 at the moment!

7th on


Other articles in this topic

Pludgebanging words into Google

I was testing out different made up words to see what Google returned. Read more about Pludgebanging words into Google

Using Google Data Studio to review your http to https migration

Migration from http to https can be fraught with issues you need to track and check. I looked for a way to help track migrations and give me additional insights using Google Data Studio. Read more about Using Google Data Studio to review your http to https migration

A first look at Safecont content quality analysis SEO tool

Review of a new tool from Data elasticity S.L in Spain that analyses the quality of your websites content Read more about A first look at Safecont content quality analysis SEO tool

How to find insecure pages in your site before Google start penalising them

Google will be highlighting all non-secure sites from July 2018 meaning that the Insecure Content Report of Screaming Frog will be in use a lot over the next few months - I will show you what to do. Read more about How to find insecure pages in your site before Google start penalising them

How I add canonicals into Perch CMS sites

The Canonical link in a page's header lets the search engines know where the original page resides. Originally conceived for situations where articles were duplicated they would reference the original. Google tends to choose the oldest version of a page that it can find (but not the only method it uses) and any other pages with the same or very similar content are considered duplicates and will not do a well on the Search Engine Results Pages - SERPs and we want our pages to do well there for the traffic. Read more about How I add canonicals into Perch CMS sites

Using a CDN to help migrate your sites hosting

Moving a site to new hosting can be fraught with issues. Here is one technique that I find useful when moving to a website to a new hosting server. Read more about Using a CDN to help migrate your sites hosting

EU cookie consent law largely ignored

The EU has give the UK until May 28th 2012 to comply with the cookie consent law - how many of the organisations pinpointed by the ICO have met the deadline? Read more about EU cookie consent law largely ignored

HTML Test Page for CSS Style Guide

This content is used to test that css has been covered for all tags used in content. Read more about HTML Test Page for CSS Style Guide

EEUK11 report

The UK's first ExpressionEngine conference has taken place in Manchester in August 2011. I provide a report on the event itself and the surrounding activities. Read more about EEUK11 report

Assets for ExpressionEngine

Assets is a new file management add-on for ExpressionEngine and brings a new way of managing assets in your website. I installed it and built a simple image Gallery. Read more about Assets for ExpressionEngine

Responsive web design

Responsive web design has been emerging as a way forward over the past two years. Following inspiration from the way Simon Collison's crafted his personal website I have now implemented a Responsive Web Design on this, my personal website. Read more about Responsive web design


With HTML5 finally emerging from the primordial soup I thought it was time to have a look at where we have got to with fonts on the web, what today's techniques are and what is new in the world of the digital hot metal. Read more about WebFonts

New look for 2010

I have finally taken the plunge and updated the site and have switched over to ExpressionEngine. Read more about New look for 2010