You may have heard a lot lately about “Web standards.” I think it’s a good thing that web standards are getting more attention. We’ll all (designers, developers, website visitors) benefit from an increased adoption of Web standards. If you’re wondering what Web standards are and why you should care, read on my friend.
Web standards are conventions or guidelines for using Web technologies. For our purposes we’ll limit the scope of the discussion to the use of Web standards in building websites.
These standards make it possible to use a specific HTML tag on a webpage, for example, and get consistent results when viewing that webpage in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera browsers. Without standards each browser might interpret the HTML tag differently.
Web standards are defined for many technologies, including HTML, CSS, and XML.
Who defines them?
The World Wide Web Consoritum (W3C) defines Web standards. Industry experts and member companies meet regularly to propose an agreed-upon standard that we’ll all conform to.
Why should I care?
Here are 4 reasons you should care about Web standards.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine spiders love standards-based websites. When sites are built according to standards they are generally easier for search engine spiders to index. Clean, valid code also helps out keyword densities by having less extraneous, unnecessary markup to compete with important keywords.
3. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Websites that are built upon standards are easier to update and maintain in the long run. Semantic code, where the information is marked as to its purpose or meaning rather than its appearance, makes redesigns less costly. Bandwidth costs for high-traffic websites can be significantly reduced due to the smaller file sizes usually achievable with tableless code (ESPN rebuilt their website and estimated a savings of 2 Terabytes per day in bandwidth).
4. Cross-browser, Cross-platform, Cross-device Compatibility
By building websites to adhere to standards, your chances improve of having your website perform well in multiple web browsers, on multiple operating systems, and even on multiple devices like handhelds.