Simply put, standards compliance is about making a Website accessible to the largest range of people possible. For the majority of Website owners, this is simply good business sense. After all, the more people you have using your site the better. In order to construct an accessible Website, it must conform to Web standards.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), other standards bodies, and the manufacturers of current versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, and open-source browsers have set new standardised technologies like Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and XHTML that allow Web designers and companies the ability to create sites that conform to international standards, and are in turn fully accessible.
Many Governments around the world, including the Australian Government has legislated that websites must be standards compliant in order to be accessed by all web users.
Standards compliance will increasingly become an important issue over the next few years, and very soon all websites will be built standards compliant. It will become the next big thing in Internet development.
What are the benefits of using Web standards?
- Your Website will be easier to manage, maintain and re-design
- Design tweaks or changes are also relatively straight forward, unlike traditional HTML Websites. E.g. Global site changes are easier and faster, if your company had a new corporate font, every page in your entire Website could be changed in 30 seconds.
- Completely updating the design of a Website can happen in days instead of weeks and at very low cost. Because the content and design is held in separate files, only a new design and style sheet needs to be created. The entire Website and content does not need to be built from scratch.
- Reduces dependency on one developer. Standards based code can be understood and maintained by any reputable Web development firm. Once the site is constructed there is less fancy scripting, no secret commands, just straightforward code. Simplified code that enables anybody with minimal HTML knowledge to edit.
- Once the initial website construction is completed, future major enhancements and page additions can be completed faster and easier than traditional HTML.
- Your customers will be able to control how they want to use your Website
- Using standards you can give the user the ability to change the entire appearance of a page by clicking a button. This means you can give the user control over how they prefer to view your site, instead of dictating it to them. For example, increasing the text size, moving the navigation bar to another place on the screen, etc.
- Printing and copying content can be made significantly easier to the user.
- Your Website will be compatible with new browsing technologies
- Just because your Website works in browsers right now, can you guarantee that it will work the same two years from now with new technology? Using standards guarantees this and saves expenses down the track of making changes to your Website if browsers stop supporting non-standardised code you may be using.
- Your Website will be compatible with all different technologies
- All the different types of browsers can understand standards based code. This significantly reduces appearance and rendering differences in various browsers. So Website will be compatible with all browsers and operating systems
- Your Website will be able to be accessed by more people
- Standards based Websites can be rendered on any Internet device such as mobile phones, PDAs, text only screen readers (for the visually impaired), and many other technologies that are becoming more popular. By not locking people out of your Website, you get that many more potential customers.
- Your Website will not put you at risk of incurring legal fees
- Sites developed in standards technology comply with the Government regulations and accessibility requirements, which all Federal government Websites and sites that receive federal funding are required to meet. In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 requires that all web pages be accessible to users with a disability. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission have issued an Advisory Note that recommends the use of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 to ensure that legal obligations have been met
- This can prevent possible legal action being taken by disabled users. This happened to IBM who built the Sydney Olympic Games Website, when a blind user sued the company because they could not use the Website. See http://www.tomw.net.au/2001/bat2001.html#maguire.
- Australian governments decided to adopt the W3C Guidelines, with the Commonwealth Government requiring all agency websites to pass accessibility tests by 1 December 2000.
- Your Website will be faster to download and cheaper to host
- Standards based sites are smaller in file size and will reduce bandwidth charges by up to 50%. This is a real savings to sites with a lot of traffic and high bandwidth charges. It also means users download less information and this also reduces their bandwidth costs.
- File size is reduced by 25-50%; this allows pages to load up to twice as fast as non-standards based sites. The "design" of your site is downloaded once only in the style sheet, not built into every page individually.
- Your Website will appear higher in search engines
- Search engines are increasingly ranking Websites based on the actual content in the page, rather than falling for outdated tricks such as registering domain names with keywords in the name. Standards based sites keep all headings and content within the basic HTML code that search engines love! Dramatically increasing search engine listings.
- Your Website will get great publicity
- While there are still not many Websites using standards, there are CSS gallery Websites that are listing well designed and properly built sites. Because of their popularity, being listed in these galleries also assists increasing Google rankings. Remember, the more sites that link to you, and vice versa, the higher your listing will be. By spending the extra time and attention to detail on design and standards compliance issues will ensure a listing with these galleries.
Benefits for you
- EPS is at the forefront of Australian web developers using web standards.
- We were one of the first Australian companies to offer standard compliant web services
- Our standards compliant websites have been published in numerous on-line and hard copy publications showcasing the very best of web development.
Please visit various examples in the Our Standards Compliance Experience section of this website
Don’t just take our word for it, read what other experts are saying:
Outlined below are two articles that emphasise the importance placed on web standards and accessibility i n today's business world.
A blind UC Berkley man files a class action law suit against Target Corporation based on the grounds that the upscale discounter's on-line business, www.target.com , denies blind Californians equal access to goods and services available to those who can see.
The significance of the numbers of people with disabilities using the internet and World Wide Web.The relevant issues and a striking message to businesses that websites and online application must be accessible to a wide audience and users of all abilities.