10 reasons for web standards

Posted Jun 03, 2004 in Web Design.

Here are ten reasons to develop with web standards:

  1. The learning curve of old school methods is steeper than it is when standards are embraced.
  2. It takes less time to do more work when using standards.
  3. It is easier to re-use standards-compliant code, allowing developers to build portable libraries of tools.
  4. Standards-friendly documents can be repurposed with ease.
  5. Site maintenance is made easier with streamlined code, reducing costs and increasing time available for content.
  6. The bandwith needed for a standards-based page is significantly less. More like a toeprint than a footprint.
  7. Using web standards enhances accessibility, leading to more consumers.
  8. Developing with standards creates site longevity, due to greater compatibility with future user agents.
  9. It is much easier to create cross-browser solutions by embracing web standards.
  10. Standards-based sites are more optimized for search engines, leading to increased traffic.

Basically, web standards save time and money. They make the job of the developer easier, with increased productivity and efficiency. Best of all, using web standards can make a developer look good for a client. "It's only going to take 2 minutes to change the font of all my pages? That's really cool!"


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    Don't forget the chicks love it. :D

    Seriously though, that's a nice and valid (pun intended, somewhat) list of points you've collected there. Now if only clients wouldn't oftentimes reply to such words with "That is great... but..." or the like. *shrug*

    Posted by ACJ on Jun 03, 2004.

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    Well said, well said. A very good answer for those who fail to see the reasons behind designing with web standards.

    Posted by markku on Jun 04, 2004.

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    I would agree with pretty much all those points except No.9.

    I have personally spent an awful lot of time debugging my css to get it to perform correctly in as many browsers as possible. In fact, this is the single most frustrating aspect of my job.

    That said, it's really bad implementations of standards in browsers, not the standards themselves at fault.

    Posted by mr eel on Jun 04, 2004.

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    While i'm in the middle of the giant crossover, (or crossbreeding as it seems now), I must say: Newer is not always better. CSS is just another tool for the same content, personally I'm not impressed.

    Posted by randy on Jun 04, 2004.

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    I would agree with this list on the whole but I'm not sure that numbers 8 and 9 are correct.

    8) Take a look at a recent article at SitePoint ( This is but one example to counter the notion that old table-based designs aren't forward compatible. I am not arguing against standards -- I think their uptake will define whether the web goes forwards or stagnates -- but I don't think a valid argument for them is that old table-based sites aren't forward-compatible, at least for the meantime. Browser vendors aren't going to abandon these sites any time soon either, since unfortunately they still represent the majority of the sites on the web.

    9) This point may hold true for the future -- and I sincerely hope it does -- but at the time this is writen it's simply not true. Even with Explorer aside, a website will render with subtle differences across different platforms and browsers. Some would say that this is the nature of the web at that the lowest common denominator of rendering is close enough to the intended design to not pose any problems, and to an extent that is true. However, it's simply not true to say that it's *easy* to create cross-browser websites in this day and age, though hopefully that will soon change, especially with what Dean Edwards is doing (

    All in all, I think web standards are the way forward for the web and trying to convince a client that is true is crucial. However, to do so, we should be honest about the current pitfalls but, by placing them in the context of the numerous advantages, it is still possible to be positive about web standards, especially given their ROI (

    Posted by Bruce Boughton on Jun 04, 2004.

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    To me, #9 is definitely true, and has always been. Avoiding browser-specific hacks makes life easier. As for #8, I think the point is using valid HTML, whether that HTML includes tables for layout or not.

    Posted by Roger on Jun 04, 2004.

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    Thus far, I have been puzzled by some of the comments. particulary with respect to #9. Also, it is only in #1 that I mention philosophy, rather than fact. I have found #9 to be true with all of my own work. Consider these alternatives:

    9. It is much harder to create cross-browser solutions by embracing web standards.

    9. It is much easier to create cross-browser solutions by ignoring web standards.

    Neither of these are true. I have found that following the standards of HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, Unicode, and even ECMAScript has been very helpful. Furthermore, the "philosophy" of separating the content and structure of documents from the way they are presented has made my life a good deal easier.

    Incidentally, I am not specifically referring to tables layout vs. CSS layout in #8. I prefer to use tables only for tabulated data, but I have no real objection to their use (other than the increase in page-weight that they bring). What I am objecting to in particular is the use of such things as <embed>, "InnerHTML", and other non-standards compliant stuff. These bind documents to technology of the present.

    I am delighted that this innocent entry has aroused so much interest. I was only "getting it off my chest", after I had a heated debate about it with someone who shall remain nameless :)

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jun 04, 2004.

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    I agree with most of the reasons and have personally embraced standards as a complete change of my design philosophy. I would agree also with several comments made here that getting my pages to look sometimes even just acceptable in buggy browsers is the most frustrating part of my job.

    Not to start a fuss, but have you looked at this page in IE 6.0? Not everything is as easy as it seems...and this is how the majority of the world see this page.

    Posted by Christopher on Jun 04, 2004.

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    Christopher says, "Not to start a fuss, but have you looked at this page in IE 6.0?"

    Indeed I have. Apart from the fixed banner and generated content effects, the page looks almost identical in IE6. To what are you referring?

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jun 04, 2004.

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    No offense intended. The nav_stripe.png bkg just doesn't reposition properly in IE 6.0. As I resize the page (horizontally) certain content items (I think the textarea mainly) keep the background image for the left from scrolling. IE seems to allow the background to slide so far and no more.

    It's nothing awful, it's just that the darker blue line separating the content from the right menus starts to run through the menus when the window is between 800x600 and 1024x768. I'm assuming of course you didn't intend for the blue line to cross over the links. I could be wrong - you know what they say about assumptions. :)

    I just happened to notice this - I wasn't poking around looking for anything wrong with the site. I'm quite impressed with it actually. It's just an example of how IE drives us all nuts.

    I struggle with IE constantly. I'm like the rest of the web developers out there - I code to the compliant browsers first and then try to make things look decent in IE.

    Take no offense - Kudos on the design.

    Posted by Christopher on Jun 04, 2004.

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    Christoper, you are quite correct. The problem, as you accurately surmised, is down to the textarea. The behavior in Firefox is different, but no less ugly. The textarea has its size set by "rows" and "cols" attributes, and these intefere with the design. I will have to conduct some experiments in order to rectify this. Thank you for pointing it out.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jun 04, 2004.

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    What we should really care about is keeping the customer happy and giving them solutions while making it easy for us to update and advance respectively. I think there should be balance between sticking to standards and swaying away from them. At the end of the day, "they are more like guidelines" than anything else ;)

    Posted by Vieko Franetovic on Jun 04, 2004.

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    LOL. Thanks for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" quote, Vieko.

    Personally, I have not yet found the need to move away from using web standards. Having said that, I recognize that there are times when it is not possible to use them exclusively, and old methods must be called upon. I would submit, however, that these fallbacks will become less and less necessary.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jun 05, 2004.

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    #6 says enough. It felt so good the first time I heard a review say, "Wow, that was fast."

    Posted by tom on Jun 10, 2004.