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, simoncox.com, is scoring 7.9 out of 10 — and that’s pretty good — veerle.duoh.com, alistapart.com and www.w3.org all have the same score so I am in good company. www.silktide.com is only 0.1 points ahead and they are the experts.
Nibbler runs the following tests:
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.
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.
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!