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Why web standards are good for you and your business

By now, web standards is a household name. Web standards, or more specifically the XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1 + 3 specifications, are suggested guidelines for developing websites. These guidelines are proposals of and managed by the W3C. Most modern web browsers support web standards, including Apple's Safari, Mozilla's Firefox, Opera, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, and (with some assistance) Microsoft's Interent Explorer 6. We at New Media Campaigns are making a concentrated effort to promote and implement web standards in our clients' websites.

New Media Campaigns is a strong proponent of web standards, much like the more well known Jeffrey Zeldman, Dan Cedarholm, Eric Meyer, Dave Shea, and many others. However, many web developers still balk at the mere thought of developing with standards, usually under false assumptions such as:

  • It is too expensive to upgrade my website with web standards
  • Web standards will break my site in Internet Explorer 6
  • Web standards are a temporary trend
  • My site already displays fine without web standards

Some are unaware of web standards. To this balking and unaware audience I address this message: web standards are a Good Thing. They are good for you and good for your business. Here is why.

The Benefits of Web Standards

  1. If you have an old website that has not been upgraded in the past few years, a small investment of time and money will be necessary to upgrade your website using web standards. But the long-term benefits of this upgrade will far outweigh your initial investment.
  2. A website built with web standards will be accessible to a much larger audience, including those using assistive technologies (screen readers), those using mobile technologies (Blackberries, iPhones, iPods, "netbooks", etc), and those who choose to print your website to PDF or paper. Of course, your website will work in all current popular web browsers (including Internet Explorer 6) and continue to work in future web browsers.
  3. Code developed using web standards will likely be much more concise and more light-weight than before. This means your website will consume less bandwidth and save you money.
  4. Future updates to your website will be quicker and cost less money. Developers who are unfamiliar with your website code can get up to speed quickly because standards-compliant code is easy to read and understand.

Web standards are also good for your business. If your business uses and encourages web standards, it becomes obvious to your clients that your business takes pride in and strongly cares about the success of its work. This implicit message may result in new and repeat business.

Web Standards and the Future

Web standards are the future. Microsoft is dramatically improving its support for web standards in its upcoming Internet Explorer 8 web browser. The Obama White House is using web standards at http://www.whitehouse.gov/. If you are not using web standards, now is a great time to start!

Resources

Here is a brief list of resources to get you up to speed with web standards.

W3C Specifications
http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/
http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php
Learning Resources
http://reference.sitepoint.com/
http://westciv.com/style_master/house/index.html
http://www.w3schools.com/cssref/
http://www.w3schools.com/tags/default.asp
Web Standards Proponents
http://alistapart.com/
http://www.zeldman.com/
http://www.456bereastreet.com/
http://simplebits.com/
http://www.webstandards.org/
http://www.w3.org/
Validators
W3C XHTML Validator
CSS Validator

Comments

 Rob's avatar
Rob

Microsoft is now fully supporting web standards in its upcoming Internet Explorer 8 web browser."

BULLSHIT. IE8, when it's released, will have NO support for XHTML, NO support for SVG, will be 11 years behind web standards in support for the DOM. And while it's javascript and CSS2.1 support will be better than IE7, it will be years behind ALL other browsers in support for those and little support for CSS3.

The only people that will tell you that IE8 will fully support web standards would be Microsoft people so I suggest you either test IE8 out yourself or get a better source because your statement is bullshit."

 Josh Lockhart's avatar
Josh Lockhart

It seems I struck a nerve :) I am a Mac user, so believe me, I understand your passion. However, I am also a realist. IE6 is the bane of my existence as a web developer. Thankfully, it is slowly fading out of existence and being replaced by IE7. IE7 was a dramatic improvement, but it still is not perfect. Based upon the IEBlog, IE8 should fully support CSS 2.1. This is a monumental step forward for Internet Explorer, and a very monumental relief to web developers. I am not saying that IE8 will be perfect (I don't think any version of IE will be perfect). But it will make my life as a web developer a lot easier. I also respect the IE devevlopment team's efforts as of late to implement web standards and repair a web browser that has for so long stifled the adoption of web standards. Will it *fully* support web standards? No, you're right. And I will edit my post accordingly. But you have to admit, it will make all of our lives a lot easier when it begins to replace IE7 and IE6.

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