Web Standards, are we doing enough?

90% of those reading thus don’t need to be convinced as to why Web Standards are important, or that they should be used. My reader base is no doubt almost exclusively web developers, already in the know about CSS, and the W3C.

This is not the problem, designers and developers who are active enough to read popular blogs and participate in forums already have been long convinced of the value of web standards. However, the remaining inactive table based designers will never be convinced to change their ways until those paying for websites know the value and REQUEST it.

While sad, it is true

It is a sad day when providing a client with the best possible web site isn’t motivation enough. They are spending at least $2,000 on a valuable representation of their company, and the fact that they don’t know enough to ensure the company they are choose will use web standards is going to hurt them.

What can we do?

Getting the word out is not easy, many companies simply don’t know enough to care. Further, calling up companies and telling them that you would love to let them know the benefit of web standards screams “sales call.” So the effort has to start from a bottom level. Any time you go to a client meeting to discuss a potential job, why not start off by telling them the benefit of web standards? They will learn the value, and it shows you are an expert on it. While you may risk boring them and maybe even talking over their head, once you mention the dollars and cents of it all they will listen. Even if your competition uses (or even mentions) that they use web standards, it is unlikely they will go as in depth as you and won’t portray as deep of understand and knowledge of the area to the client.

The snowball effect…

The idea is that this will snowball. This client now understanding the value they are obtaining through a web standards based web site will tell colleges that they should make sure their next site is also standards based. Maybe they will go as far as bragging about their smart business decision?

The bottom line

We need to be more vocal to clients about the subject, if you were to survey most design companies it is doubtful that any of them truly explain the benefits in the fear that it will sound like little more than technobabble. It can be communicated in an understandable way however. You just need to break it down:

  • Web Designers used to use a “hack” method of aligning everything on a web page
    • It increases file sizes, which in turn increase bandwidth requirements and costs
    • It increases update/revision time because each page needs to be modified separately, thus costing more money
    • It reduces the amount of browsers that are compatible, and limits those with disability from using your website
  • Designing with “Web Standards provides:
    • Faster page load times, less bandwidth used, smaller file sizes – less expensive
    • Quicker update, redesign, and modification time – site-wide presentation can be altered through one file
    • Increased accessibility, more people can view and use your site. Increases customer base
    • Better Search Engine Rankings (Yahoo execs say that all else equal a standards site will outrank a table site)
    • More options in terms of design and functionality – fixed elements, low vision designs, multiple design styles, etc
    • Cross browser specific tweaking – While many people complain about cross browser compatibility, you have the opportunity to tweak and modify the design for each browser to ensure it is displayed exactly how you want it.

Declaration of standards compliance

I am writing this article as a submission to sign the Declaration of standards compliance. I can only hope that this will become a wide spread trend. Showing that as a developer/designer you have signed the declaration of standards compliance, and standards are important too you. I further hope it will show people that we need to teach people out side of the industry what to look for in developer. The internet is growing too fast and becoming too large of a business investment to have companies blind to the importance of the code beneath it all.