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Why are coding standards (W3C) important to me as a business owner?

Why are coding standards (W3C) important to me as a business owner?

What Is W3C Compliance?

The W3C is short for the World Wide Web Consortium and since 1994 has provided the guidelines by which websites and web pages should be structured and created. The rules they outline have to do with the HTML codes that tell your browser how to display the site.

The W3C is comprised of a large number of bodies with full-time, professional interests in the web and its development. They have the capacity to think through all the angles you don’t have time for. If your site validates to their standards, it is much more likely that it will be acceptable to the largest number of internet users and devices.

While Web sites don’t have to comply to be viewed correctly, there are a number of compelling reasons you or your web design company should follow W3C guidelines on your site.

Why comply? Well here’s a short list ….

  1. Compliance helps ensure accessibility for the disabled.
  2. Compliance helps to make your Web site accessible from a number of devices, from different browsers to the growing number of surfers using PDA’s and cellular phones.
  3. Compliance will also help ensure that regardless of the browser, resolution, device; etc., your Web site will look and function in the same, or at least a very similar, fashion.
  4. A site that has been created using W3C standard-based code performs generally better in the majority of browsers, be it (IE) Internet Explorer, (NN) Netscape Navigator, (FF) Firefox or Safari.
  5. Future Proofing – Using standards-compliant programming can help save both time and money. A site that has been programmed to W3C standard has two advantages: it is downgrade-able (able to be viewed correctly) in older browers; it is viewable and will look nearly the same across newer and continuously updated browsers (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox and Camino.)
  6. A Web site is generally not built by one person alone. When upgrading or maintaining a site that is done to standards, the person knows there is a certain set of rules that is adhered to for every page of the site. This can save an enormous amount of time and research for the person performing the updates.

“My ‘plain old HTML’ works just fine”

So you’ve tested your ‘plain old HTML’ in EVERY combination of operating system and browser, have you? What about the new ones that are coming onto the market every day? What about the users who’ve taken advantage of the accessibility features of new browsers? How about the college student on his I-Phone?

“It’s too much trouble to do all that”

If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

If you were going to publish a printed book, wouldn’t you go to a lot of trouble to ensure that its contents were accurate and reliable, spelled correctly, readable, bound properly, and complied with the law and so on? Of course you would, otherwise that book would remain a permanent testament to your slovenliness.

When you publish a Web site, the chances are that you have a much wider audience than you would for a book. Do you really want the whole world to notice how sloppy you are?

Once you have created the basis by becoming compliant, your site is now able to bridge between different and newer versions of web browsers, devices such as PDA’s and cell phones and any new technology that will interact via the web.

Validation to published standards can be carried out automatically ensuring that most, if not all, of your HTML typos will be corrected before exposure to your worldwide audience.

Separating presentation from content for easier searchability

In the days before cascading style sheets (CSS) were available, authors carefully arranged the text of their sites to create the “right” visual image. This meant more code for browsers and search engines to sort through, and, since nothing was standard, every device displayed content and layout differently. In fact, programs were produced whose sole function is to strip out the extraneous markup leaving the user with the original, clear, text and adding even more code to the site and creating tag soup– a scrambled mess of unnecessary markup that may produce the intended layout.

Use of style sheets gives the opportunity to separate style from content so that both components can be properly exploited. Style sheets provide mechanisms for providing different presentation on screen and on paper. The less time search engines spend searching through your HTML code for your content, the more time they can spend actually indexing your content and keywords.

But What Do I Get From All This?

Once you’re done you’ll be left with a compliant site that not only will be available on a much larger number of browsers (increasingly important as browsers such as FireFox gain more and users) but you’ll have a site with far less code that will rank higher on the search engines because of it.

To be sure, W3C validation is not the “magic bullet” to top rankings. In the current SEO world there is no one thing that is. However, as more and more Web site are born and the competition for top positioning gets more fierce, it’s important to take every advantage you can to not only get to the first page but to hold your position against those who want to take it from you.

This was essay written in response to actions taken by a previous employer wherein they fought tooth and nail to not create sites to W3C standards. In the end they lost. They are still creating non-functional sites that are not set to W3C standard or any sort of standardization of code. This may not cause them & their clients (or more importantly their site visitors!)  problems in the short term as they continue to actively develop these sorts of sites in the local new orleans hospitality industry. This will however defintely end up causing compatibility issues as technology progresses while these sites have a nice look and feel but still have these problems .