Technical standards are widely used in various fields of life—think of the standards of paper size and the standard envelopes that fit them, or AC power plugs and their corresponding sockets. Web standards, similar to other standards, are normative specifications of technologies and methodologies. In other words, they are well-defined sets of requirements to be satisfied. They are not only ideal from the technical point of view but also represent user needs. However, web standards are often ignored; the World Wide Web consists of billions of documents that do not consider proper restrictions or regulations, deproving user experience. This is because the Web is a “free forum” where everyone can publish pretty much anything without technical skills, content review, or censorship. Unfortunately, this approach comes at a price: you will often encounter sites that download really slow, collapse in the browser, or have poor functionality. In spite of the benefits of standard compliance, not only content authors but also web developers find it challenging to implement web standards, mainly due to the lack of widespread distribution. Even the most popular web sites can be very confusing, and in contrast to the common misconception, developers cannot use them as references to learn from. Moreover, web designers often ignore standards because of the misbelief that developing with standards means an additional workload. Due to their limited knowledge on web standards, web designers are often not familiar with the benefits of standards compliance and the best practices of standards-based web design.
The Cost of Nonstandardized Markup
The major drawbacks of nonstandardized documents are the following:
- Inadequate search engine indexing. Crawlers cannot index incorrectly coded documents efficiently, which can cause visitor loss.
- Longer download time.
- Longer rendering.
- Incorrect rendering (one of the most significant drawbacks).
- Difficult and inefficient development cycle.
- Low level of accessibility.
- Low level of backward compatibility.
- Lost traffic, fewer visitors, and fewer sales. Because of the inconveniences and problems listed earlier, web sites that are not standard-compliant have a higher risk of losing functionality, popularity, and productivity.
- Additional bandwidth load and hosting cost. Numerous needless characters in the source code increase both file size and complexity.
- More difficult updating and maintenance.
Benefits of Standard-Compliant Markup
Valid, standard-compliant markup has several advantages. Here are the most important ones:
- Search engine crawlers can index documents more adequately, and the content is basically search engine optimized.
- Compared to those websites that violate standards, standard-compliant websites can be downloaded faster.
- Well-structured markup provides faster rendering.
- Web documents that apply standards properly are rendered accurately in modern browsers.
- More users are accommodated, and they probably stay longer because of correct appearance and layout.
- Lower development costs (only in case of well-qualified developers and carefully selected software tools).
- Standard-compliant markup serves as the basis for website accessibility.
- Backward compatibility is ensured as browsers evolve.
- Optimal content lengths and file size (no unnecessary characters are listed in the source code), as well as cost-optimal storage (potential for cheaper hosting).
- Standard-compliant markup is easier to maintain and update than the markup that violates standards.
- Standard-compliant source codes become obsolete later, and upgrading is much easier when new standards are introduced.
- Compatibility with current and future browsers is guaranteed (at least from the developers’ point of view).
- Inspire implementation and force web browsers to support standards progressively.
As you can see, the standard-compliant, clean code has many advantages over nonstandard code and that’s why standard compliance is vital in modern web design.
Web Address Standards
Document Object Model
Style Sheet Standards
CSS Style Attributes
CSS Selectors API
CSS3 Media Queries
A MathML for CSS Profile
Associating Style Sheets with XML documents 1.0 (Second Edition)