Validating a website has become standard practice among designers over the last few years. As a site nears completion, the designer tests the site against the W3C Validator service to ensure that the code meets the standards, allowing them to proudly display a badge declaring their competency.
I have no real problem with this, except insofar as it provides no value (except to the designer's ego!) to show this badge.
The real problem lies with the claim that validation is inherently valuable as an SEO tactic. Sites like Google, Amazon and a plethora of other high-ranking sites stand as proof positive that validation alone will not ensure your site ranks highly.
So why is validation touted as an SEO technique?
One of the biggest weaknesses in the Joomla! content management system is its lack of built-in commenting. Where platforms like Wordpress are forging ahead with powerhouse new features aimed at serious content generation, Joomla! is still mired in its Mambo legacy structure. It is not, out of the box, a blogging platform.
While the shift to core Joomla! embracing MVC has allowed designers to leave behind the uniform look of previous iterations of the platform, Joomla! is still first and foremost a CMS, not a blogging platform.
There have been a raft of commenting solutions available for Joomla!, however I am increasingly of the opinion that without some level of social integration, commenting wastes the potential of wider promotion and engagement. Further, I am absolutely sick to death of having to create new user accounts at every site I visit.
If a site offers single-sign-on through social services I breathe a sigh of relief.
So when a commenting system came along that offered both single-sign-on and social integration, I was utterly thrilled.
That system is Disqus.
JoomlaWorks offer a nice Disqus plugin for Joomla!, but it doesn't integrate with K2 (their content construction) kit very well. I love K2 unashamedly. It allows me look and feel customisation that Joomla itself can't easily match. I can also create multiple templates per view, making it a much simpler publishing option for users who just need to upload one image and K2 will resize it for each view and place it according to the template.
A plugin can't match the level of customisation that I require, so I prefer to integrate the Disqus code manually. Here's how: