Quality Web Standards Compliance

A Web development checklist for Pre-Built Themes

Usage: Select 3 pages from your desired template, I recommend the home page and 2 more pages you feel will be the most important. Examine each of those 3 pages in the following Litmus Test.

It’s allot like bringing a Mechanic to look at the car you want to buy!

Resource/Link/Tactic Points/Scoring
FREE: The W3C Semantic Data Extractor »
This website tool
tries to extract information from a HTML semantic rich document. It only uses information available through a good usage of the semantics defined in HTML. Take the URL of the pre-built theme and paste it in, click “extract semantics” and see if the website ‘makes sense’.
0 = an error or page fail.
1 = some information.
2 = Information that makes sense.
FREE: The W3c Markup Validation Service »
This webpage validator
checks the markup validity of Web documents and shows you any warnings or errors (basically: code grammar). Take the URL of the pre-built theme and paste it in, click “check” and read the results.
0 = more than 20 errors.
1 = fewer than 20 errors or warnings.
2 = 100% passing score.
FREE: The W3c CSS Validation Service »
This webpage validator
checks the Style and CSS (cascading style sheets) validity and shows you any warnings or errors (again: code grammar). Take the URL of the pre-built theme and paste it in, click “check” and read the results.
0 = more than 20 errors.
1 = fewer than 20 errors or warnings.
2 = 100% passing score.
Tally the totals: if you score less than 2 consider a new template.
FREE: Device Mode & Mobile Emulation »
Google Chrome has a built in Device Emulator.
This allows you to test the website and see how it might look and react on more than 40 mobile devices.Top 5 devices are up to you, I suggest Vertical and Horizontal for: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android Tablets and Android Phones.
0 = broken on all devices.
1 = re-sizes for 5 top devices.
2 = works very well on at least 5 top devices.
FREE: PageSpeed Insights »
Page speed is important.
Google does and will penalize you for having a slow website! This tool is very important for SEO, PPC, Adwords and especially the end user experience for people using both mobile devices and desktop computers.
0 = under 50 points
1 = 51 to 89 points
2 = 90 points or above.
Even if the theme passes consider the following optional services:
PRO: W3C Validator Suite™ »
This is an advanced SAS (software as a service) product
that will give you additional insights into compliance.
N/A: system will explain
PRO: SiteSort by PowerMapper »
This is also another advanced SAS (software as a service) product
that will give you in-depth information about the website.
N/A: system will explain

Top Score: 10 points.
This is how I estimate the cost of making a website compliant:

  • Every point is estimated at 10 hours of labor.
  • For example: If the theme scores 5/10 it will be a safe assumption that there is about 50 hours of work to do just for compliance!
  • Another example: You could settle at a “B” for 90% in perhaps 30 hours.
  • If the theme manages to score a 9 or even a 10 next is labor for customization, modification, enhancements and of course adding in the content!
  • Note: Its also a good idea to run this test again before launch!

Closing Thoughts: Sometimes a pre-built CMS theme is not ‘bad’ it may just not work very well or be standards complaint.

As a professional web developer it is my opinion that if a website “does not work very well or is not standards complaint” then it would fall under the category “poorly built” much the same way a car starts up but does not actually drive is not considered a wise choice…

If you take a look at my own website you will see I am driving a junker. My excuse is that’s because my time is in such high demand fixing other peoples websites that I rarely drive. What is yours?

Check out Common Misconceptions about Themes and Pre-Built Templates for some need to know info!

Q: What is a ‘WebLemon’?
A: A phrase I coined today that makes a comparison between the “Lemon Law” (regarding vehicles) to poorly built website templates.

If you do not know the history of the “Lemon Law” for cars Allow me to sum it up: “Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods in order to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”

This happens with website templates too. If this is no surprise to you then I hope you appreciate the methods I describe above to detect them.

I want to make clear that I am a strong supporter of the OpenSource community and having bought 100’s of pre-built themes over the years I also think that templates are indeed awesome! I think it is important to take a moment to congratulate the thousands of developers out there that have given me and my clients wonderful starting points and ideas for their websites. Thank you, yes, you are awesome!

For me to take a ‘WebLemon’ and transform it into an awesome, lean, mean, website performance dream is usually an easy task.

Like a duck in water I can modify everything from the child theme all the way to the CMS core if it is needed. It is however time consuming. The truth is you can in some cases save money and time with a ‘WebLemon’ with the right attitude.

That said, enter the litmus test for detecting a ‘WebLemon’. This is the same set of parameters that I use myself, provided here for free for you to use to your hearts content! (you can of course request the value added service of professional experience and hire me to review this list live with you)