Posts Tagged ‘Web Standards’

Web Standards

As I researched this week’s topic of Web Standards I was struck by how important they are going to be to me in my future of interactive media and web design.

Designing with Web Standards is going to separate the true professionals from the friend of a friend who knows a bit of HTML. Web Standards are definitely going to be in our future as web designers, I can see the handwriting on the wall. So, I better take control of my learning and make sure that I become very familiar with the Web Standards.

Web Standards are vital to your design for the following reasons:

1. Findability – can a search engine parse your whole site and can consumers find your site? If your design is having to rely on the error correction of a web browser, how much information is lost or hidden from the search engines? Instead of spending tons of money on Search Engine Optimization, why not a least start-off with a site that the search engines can parse.

2. Interoperability – can your website be translated to different platforms seamlessly? Can your design go from the web to mobile to printer effortlessly?

3. Longevity of your design – by using Web Standards, a designer insures the longest possible life for that particular web site. As technology changes, many of the older formats or pieced together formats will no longer be able to be accessed. This trend is only going to accelerate.

4. Legacy – even after the designer is gone, maintenance and alterations to the system will be less time consuming and less costly to the business if the design adheres to Web Standards.

5. Accessibility – by designing with Web Standards, the designer is at least headed in the right direction with web accessibility. While the W3C admits that Web Standards are not a guarantee of accessibility to those with disabilities, it is a great start. Already there are laws on the books about making your site accessible to disabled persons here and in Australia, (with Europe not far behind.) The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is about to be re-released and I am sure that there will be a section in there about web sites. From my understanding of the revisions to the ADA – everything is being thrown in there, including the kitchen sink – but I digress…

I now realize from my research that I will need to know and practice the web standards in my design. I might as well learn the correct way to design right from the start and then it will become ingrained and I will always use the standards without thinking. Learning something the correct way the first time saves a lot of frustration down the road. If I don’t learn the standards now, I will only have to constantly stop and rethink everything instead of just automatically doing the design.
An example of this is my fellow handbell ringer, we will call him “Bob.” Bob started in our handbell choir 10 years ago in the very deep bass. Our conductor is very treble-focused so she pretty much ignored Bob and let him figure out how to ring on his own. Needless to say Bob picked up a lot of BAD habits – he didn’t know any better, Bob did what he could figure out how to play. Contrary to what it looks like, there is an art to ringing a handbell and there are also many things you just don’t do as it looks bad (handbell ringing is very visual) and it can make the bell sound weird. Two years ago, Bob was moved “up” the bell table to play next to me. Now he is in “sight” of our conductor who is now correcting Bob left and right. Bob is really irritated and frustrated at the constant correction, and many times he falls back on his bad habits instead of playing correctly – it is just human. He is slowly getting better, but I think he would be enjoying the new position a whole lot more if he knew how to play correctly in the first place – again I digress…
I know that I may run into a legacy situation or the oddball problem that may require a unique work around, but if the foundation of what I do is always grounded in Web Standards, then I know that I will be creating the most professional and, in the long run, cost effective design for my client. This is one of the major factors in setting me apart from the mediocre web designers out there.

Comments, questions, tips on playing handbells? Please let me know…

Resources:
The Future of Web Standards – This is a chapter from Jeffrey Zeldman’s book, Designing with Web Standards, 3rd Edition. I got a lot of my information from this chapter and I think this book is definitely going to end up in my library – especially since it was just updated this year.

The Web Standards Project – again a very good article.

W3C QA – How to Achieve Web Standards – interesting Q and A about web standards from the W3C.

Why Should a Web Site by Compliant with Standards? – lightweight blog about Web Standardsow

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