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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Here is a brief list of resources to get you up to speed with web standards.
- W3C Specifications
- Learning Resources
- Web Standards Proponents
- W3C XHTML Validator
- CSS Validator