The whole validation debacle has gotten me thinking, though, about the place pride has in web design. Some people seem to do web design just because it seems easy to them, and a good way to make a few quick bucks. They can fire up Front Page, slap together a site, and toss it out there to the world without giving it much thought. I used to be like that, and I used to think that I was doing a good job. But I didn’t necessarily have a lot of pride in the work I put out.
I was then fortunate enough to get involved in communities of passionate designers, places like Evolt and Webdesign-L. It was there that I learned not only new techniques, but also the way to approach web design as a craft. Like a woodcarver or a sculptor, you have to throw your whole being into a site and be happy with nothing less than perfection. Validating my code is an important part of the work I do on the Web. For one thing, it affirms to me that I’m doing it right, that I know the rules and I’m following them correctly. But it’s more than that. It’s a way that I can know I’m putting out the best product possible. It’s knowing that other people can look at my markup and say, “This guy knows his stuff.” It’s knowing that I’m keeping the wide range of browsers and users in mind, and creating sites that they can all be happy with. It’s just this intangible pride that comes from running my site through the validator, and seeing the magic words:
Congratulations, this document validates as XHTML 1.0 Transitional!
That’s why this Blogger thing cheeses me off a little. I know most people wouldn’t care. I’m sure there’s going to be people coming to this site who don’t even know what markup is or why it should be valid. But, to me, putting out an invalid site feels like I’m doing a disservice to the Web. I want to be out here making things better, not throwing out invalid pages. It’s the tiniest imperfection, but it still gnaws away at me.
I guess it’s that sense of pride, that regarding of web design as a craft, that separates amateurs from professionals in my mind. Of course, I may be taking a big leap of hubris to call myself a professional web designer, but that’s another issue.