W3C Web Standards Benefits

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By Keith Curreri on August 24, 2010

Web standards – Web standards are a general term for the set of rules and technical specifications for website code established by the W3C and other standard bodies.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – an international industry consortium dedicated to “leading the Web to its full potential”.

Websites and the technologies used to make them work are constantly evolving and standards need to be put into place to ensure that everyone has access to information as well as make web development faster and more enjoyable.

Standards compliance makes a website easier for people with special needs to use, is better for search engines, and is easier to maintain.

Some people believe that standards are limiting, but in actuality they remove much of the tedious labor involved with web development. They help coordinate with past technology and are mindful of future improvements.

Validating your code

The act of testing the validity of your site is easy. Just go to http://validator.w3.org/unicorn/ and type in the URL of the page you would like to validate.

Actually fixing all of the errors in your site is a totally different story, which can be very difficult at times depending on your level of experience and familiarity with standards.

Google will be your best friend when you are first learning about validating websites. I promise you that as you work more on standards compliancy you will get more familiar with it and it will get easier. You will eventually get to the point where you will write standards complaint code right from the beginning.

Advantages to having a standards compliant website

  • A consistent look and feel – With standards compliant code, all styles are defined separately in a central CSS file. Separation of style from content gives a consistent look and feel to each web page.
  • Improved search engine ranking – Web standards do not allow a lot of clutter in the code. With less clutter search engines have an easier time crawling through a site. A compliant website will also get indexed more accurately.
  • Easy to maintain – Having a compliant website makes the site easier to maintain since the code is cleaner which results in easier readability.
  • Save you money in updates – Since the site is so easy to maintain, the time it takes for someone to update the site will be reduced, which will save you money.
  • Cross browser compatible – Clean, valid code will display the most consistently across all browsers. Standards are in place to make sure that old browsers will still understand the basic structure of your documents.
  • Accessible to different devices – Proper, valid code makes it easy to display the content of a website on different devices, like cell phones, PDAs, screen readers, etc. This is also important for people who use unusual browsers, including voice and Braille browsers.
  • Faster loading sites – Since compliant websites are properly structured, valid code helps in decreasing the file size and the download time.

Conclusion

With standards compliant code, web developers can make sure that a website is properly structured and semantically coded. It makes the site easier to manage, more accessible, and better for search engines.

Browser consistency is a common problem for web developers and starting out with standards compliant code will make cross browser compatibility much easier.

Cleaning up website errors is a tough process. It can be very frustrating when you first start to tackle them, but as you get better validating will be easier.

The mission of the W3C is to make the web a better place for developers and end users by encouraging worldwide standards. This effort will be greatly helped when web developers use the standards as a matter of course.

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2 Comments on "W3C Web Standards Benefits"

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Mitch

You know, I have my one main issue with them, that being leaving the space open when closing tags. That’s not how I learned it many years ago, and just because it became a new standard doesn’t mean those sites that don’t add that space aren’t legitimately coded properly.

Keith

Mitch,

I’m not quite sure what you mean, but your issue may be solved by picking another doctype. Each doctype follows different standards. This is probably something that I should have included in this post, but I didn’t even think of it. Also, that is a whole different can of worms that I could write about in the future.

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