Introduction to Standards Compliance

Published on February 16, 2007

Web standards help technologies for designing, developing, and interpreting information on the web work well with each other. They aim to create a common ground for everything that interacts with the web.

With different people and technologies involved, there have been many approaches to developing the web. Web browsers display web pages differently. Web designers and developers use varied approaches to creating websites.

These differences are what make the web unreliable. There are no guarantees that your website will work correctly - or even at all. This is why web standards are important.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

W3C is the leading body that promotes the growth of the web by creating recommendations. It has been W3C's role to make sure that web technologies are up-to-date and compatible with each other.

For authoring web documents, the W3C has two formal recommendations that address this need. One is a language for defining the content of a page. The other is a language to handle the presentation of the document.

Separation of Content and Presentation

The data that is sent and received by computers on the Internet is quite different from what you immediately see on screen. Text just does not appear as a title or as a paragraph unless the code says so. This code interpreted by browsers is written in what is called a markup language.

When the web started, the main markup language was HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). With the rapid growth of the web, however, HTML strayed from its original purpose of handling only structure. HTML included design markups. This allowed for untidy coding because of the mixed structure and design codes. Because of this, the following tended to occur:

  • Pages took more time to load
  • Websites appeared differently on various browsers
  • A site was only designed to work with only one browser

With the growth of the web came the need of an efficient way to create websites. Untangling the mix of structure and design became important. Thus, the W3C developed standards that separate content from presentation. XHTML is to be used for content; CSS for presentation.

Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML)

XHTML is the latest version of HTML that is aimed to streamline the language to avoid the problematic tendencies faced by HTML. It is a reformulation of HTML as an application of XML (Extensible Markup Language). Because XHTML is XML application, it is in plain text, platform-independent, and simple.

Aside from these features, XHTML also offers:

  • Backward Compatibility

    Users of current and older browsers will still be able to view websites designed in XHTML.

  • Forward Compatibility

    Since XHTML is a formal W3C recommendation, future browsers will support XHTML.

  • Faster Development, Debugging and Maintenance

    XHTML is aimed at structure rather than design. Developers can be more focused when creating, editing, and testing codes. This leads to faster development, debugging, and maintenance.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

With XHTML transitioning away from presentation, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are now responsible for the way websites are styled.

CSS is a style sheet language that allows designers to assign the way each element in XHTML should look. It can control the color, size, location, margins, borders, and the other design attributes for each of the elements in XHTML.

CSS also allows multiple pages to use the same style sheet. This means that browsers only need to download one file to style multiple pages. This makes loading of pages much faster and saves storage space. Additionally, a site could provide multiple “versions” of itself, such as printer-friendly or large-print versions, through different style sheets.

With this control over the style, CSS makes your design more flexible. It also cuts down design and redesign times.

Benefits

Complying with web standards makes your site more flexible. It also enhances compatibility with other web technologies. Standards compliance is a key feature of our services.

Standards compliance offers these benefits:

  1. Save Resources Through Efficiency

    Standards compliance translates to faster development, debugging, and maintenance. A standards compliant website uses less bandwidth and storage. An efficient and flexible website is always a great investment for your business.

  2. Satisfy Web Users Through Improve Usability

    Standards compliance improves the way a website behaves on a web browser making it more usable. You can satisfy web users more with the improved functionality.

    With CSS, you can also create different versions of your website. For example, you can have high-contrast or printer-friendly versions. Websites designed using XHTML and CSS also load faster.

  3. Widen Audience Base Through Enhanced Accessibility

    One of the other main benefits of XHTML and CSS is accessibility. People using assistive technologies like screen readers will find it easier to access these websites. This widens your potential market and business opportunities while making sure that your message is understood.

Standards matter, so does your business. Make your website matter more with a website designed right!

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