“Can a site claim to be web-standards-compliant if it doesn’t validate” seems to be the question of the moment. I think so, if it was built in the “spirit” of web standards. The real world intervenes, third party components and naughty CMS’s get in the way, users insist on editing stuff themselves… the whole art of web site development is about compromise, and hey, I’m an understanding kind of person.
However, as QA Nazi, I insist that the HTML and CSS on all new commercial sites that go out of PerthWeb’s door validate (extenuating circumstances excepted). Why? It’s not because I’m a perfectionist. It’s not because I want to make our designers and developers lives miserable (well, not only). It’s much simpler than that – it’s the boss’s fault.
It’s because in our quotes and in our marketing material, we make the claim that our sites are built to W3C standards. This is a marketed as “a good thing”. Even if most clients don’t get it or don’t care, it’s there. And unfortunately, there’s no set measure of “web-standards-ness”. HTML and CSS validation is the only quantitative evaluation criteria we have.
So while I’m happy for sites to claim to be built with web standards and not validate 100%, and I’m really happy to see large commercial sites moving towards web standards slowly, as long as we make the claim, I want 100% validation. And hey, it’s not that hard.