Important reasons for using web standards

For web programmers who are already using web standards, this list may come in helpful when you want good arguments and feel free to add any extra benefits you can think of. If you’re new to the idea of web standards and are unsure on whether you should spend the time to study all about them or not, here are some of the most important reasons for doing so.

Get better search engine rankings
Well-written content delivered through clean, well-structured, and semantic markup is delicious food for search engine spiders and will help our rankings. This will lead to increased traffic, which is what most website owners want.

Maximize website visitors
You don’t know which browser visitors will use to access your site. The only thing you can be logically sure of is that they are using something that can parse HTML. By using web standards properly you make sure that you have completed your job in making your website work with the largest possible number of browsing devices.

Faster page loading
Clean and well-structured HTML that separates structure and content from presentation will be smaller and faster for visitors to download.

Accessibility
Web standards do not guarantee that all features of our website will be accessible to people with disabilities, but it is a very good start. Make sure your html documents are valid, well-structured, and semantic, and you’re well on the way towards having an accessible website.

Make our HTML easier to maintain
When we need to update our website then we will like to browse through a clean and well-structured document. Using CSS to organize layout also makes it much easier to make overall website design changes.

Look professional
Our colleagues, competitors, friends and potential employers will be able to look at our work and know that the person likes to keep up with changes in technology and make sure that his knowledge and skills are always current. It will make us look like a real web professional.

Making our clients feel good
Use web standards combined with best practices for accessibility and give your clients a chance to talk about how they cater to all people, and how they find it important that everybody can use their services or find information about their products. You will also avoid the bad publicity that can be caused by shutting out visitors like disabled people, Mac users, and mobile phone users.

Future-proof content
If we separate content from presentation and use current web standards, we have done the best we can to ensure that our website content can still be read even after fifty years or hundred years.

Good business sense
Any business owner will like to have more visitors, a faster website, improved search engine rankings, potential good publicity and it does make sense to do so.

Accurate way to do things
Web standards provide the way to build the web from the beginning and now that we can surely do something the right way and have a really important reason to feel good about ourselves.

3 Must Do Things When Revamping or Shifting Website

If we are moving/revamping our website for any reason like new look & feel, changing hosts, technology updation, seeking branding benefits, to make our URL more memorable etc. then there are some things that we should definitely do to make our change go more smoothly for our self and for our regular readers.

The top 3 things are:

Implement Universal 301 Redirects
It’s a way to configure your website or web server, in order to indicate that some of your pages have been moved, permanently, to another location. We should not just redirect all of our old pages to our new index/home page at the time of creating 301 redirects. That will turn our readers off and we’ll lose some business as our visitors won’t go searching for the corresponding page they found in the search engine. Rather, we should do a 301 redirect on each page to the corresponding page on the new domain. If we have created new pages in our website, those don’t need redirects. If we are deleting old pages and not using them on your new domain then we should redirect those pages to a page on our new domain that has similar information.

Create Custom 404 Page
When someone enters a URL or follows a link to a page that does not exist they will get a custom 404 error page. So, if we are deleting pages from the old domain or website and not using them on the new website then we should make sure to create a custom 404 page for those pages. On 404 pages, we should place a link to our home page and offer some suggestions on pages that our visitors might want to look at which have similar information to the one they were looking for. Make it easy for the site visitors to find the information they want. We might even put a site search feature on our 404 page if we have a large enough site that visitors can get lost easily.

Contact Your Top Referrers
We should also send an e-mail to our top referrers to let them know that we have changed domain names or file names in website. We should do this because those referrers can change their links to our new link addresses.

HTML 5: the next version of the HTML

World Wide Web Consortium released the first working draft for HTML 5 this year in January. It is a fifth major revision of the HTML we all use every day. When HTML 5 is expressed in XML, it is called XHTML 5. The current version of HTML is 4 which developed in 1999.

Apple, Opera, and the Mozilla Foundation – major browser vendors – came together as a group called Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WhatWG) to build up an updated and upgraded version of HTML. W3C took note of these developments and started its own next-generation HTML effort with many of the same members.

This new version HTML 5 also goes under the name Web Applications 1.0 and it would be immediately familiar to existing HTML programmers. There are no namespaces or schemas. Elements don’t have to be closed. Browsers are forgiving of errors. A p is still a p, and a table is still a table. At the same time, we would come across some new and confusing elements. Our div remain, but now HTML includes section, header, footer, and nav as well. em, code, and strong are still present, but so are meter, time, and m. img and embed continue to be used, but now there are video and audio too. However, closer inspection by the html programmer would reveal that these elements aren’t that different. This can also be an effort to make HTML more developer friendly; the datagrid controls seem similar to those of ASP.NET in name and possibly functionality too.

It was explicitly designed to degrade gracefully in browsers that don’t support it. It provides real benefits to programmers today while promising even more for future page visitors.

But remember that HTML 5 is still a draft and this draft may not be finalized for years, work on HTML 5 continues. Perhaps it will be in our browsers in December 2010.

» View draft recommendation

Using Web Standards in Web Pages

WWW is a common space where users can share information to work together, play, and socialize. But in this period of tremendous growth, the Web needs guidance to realize its full potential. Web standards provide the necessary guidance and help to ensure that everyone has access to the information we are providing, and also make web development faster and more enjoyable.

Standards compliance makes it easier for the people with special needs to utilize the Web to its fullest. Blind people may have their computer read web pages to them. People with poor eyesight may have pages rearranged and magnified for easier reading. And people using hand-held devices can browse the Web just as easily as those using high-end workstations.

W3C standards

HTML 4.0 – HyperText Markup Language
XML 1.0 – Extensible Markup Language
XHTML 1.0, 1.1, and Modularization
CSS – Cascading Style Sheets
DOM 1 – Document Object Model Level 1

HTML/XHTML as a standard

HTML has evolved during its development, and is available in several versions. All of these versions are standards, and you can select one that meets your requirement. Most of the time, the latest version will be the best choice, unless you target a very specific audience, or older, broken browsers. The version you choose defines the elements and attributes you can use.

For example, in HTML 4.01, you will find the list of elements and the list of attributes you are allowed to use in your pages. You can edit your pages manually, a means usually referred to as “hand-coding” or “writing the source”.

List of elements:

http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/index/elements.html

List of attributes

http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/index/attributes.html

Advantages of Using Web Standards:

  1. Greater visibility in web searches.
  2. Gives opportunity of validating your page with a validation service.
  3. Compliant documents can easily be migrated for devices such as TVs and PDAs.
  4. Enables Kids to enjoy the web surfing using graphical browsers used to enhance high-end graphics and animations views.
  5. Enables people with disabilities (using Braille or voice browsers) to browse the Internet with ease.
  6. Compatibility with the future browsers.
  7. Cross browser compatibility.

Checklist for a web programmer

1. Quality of code

1. Does the site use a correct Doctype?
A doctype informs the validator which version of HTML you’re using, and must appear at the very top of every web page. Doctypes are a key component of compliant web pages: your markup and CSS won’t validate without them.

2. Does the site use a Character set?
If a user agent (eg. a browser) is unable to detect the character encoding used in a Web document, the user may be presented with unreadable text. This information is particularly important for those maintaining and extending a multilingual site, but declaring the character encoding of the document is important for anyone producing XHTML/HTML or CSS.

3. Does the site use Valid HTML?
Valid code will render faster than code with errors. Valid code will render better than invalid code. Browsers are becoming more standards compliant, and it is becoming increasingly necessary to write valid and standards compliant HTML.

4. Does the site use Valid CSS?
You need to make sure that there aren’t any errors in either your HTML or your CSS, since mistakes in either place can result in botched document appearance. CSS2 is a style sheet language that allows authors and users to attach style (e.g., fonts, spacing, color, etc) to structured documents.

5. Does the site use unnecessary classes or ids?
I’ve noticed that developers learning new skills often end up with good CSS but poor XHTML. Specifically, the HTML code tends to be full of unnecessary divs and ids. This results in fairly meaningless HTML and bloated style sheets.

6. Is the code well structured?
Semantically correct markup uses html elements for their given purpose. Well structured HTML has semantic meaning for a wide range of user agents (browsers without style sheets, text browsers, PDAs, search engines etc.

7. Does the site have any broken links?
Broken links can frustrate users and potentially drive customers away. Broken links can also keep search engines from properly indexing your site.

8. How does the site perform in terms of speed/page size?
Don’t make me wait… That’s the message users give us in survey after survey. Even broadband users can suffer the slow-loading blues.

9. Does the site have JavaScript errors?
Internet Explore for Windows allows you to turn on a debugger that will pop up a new window and let you know there are javascript errors on your site. This is available under ‘Internet Options’ on the Advanced tab. Uncheck ‘Disable script debugging’.

2. Degree of separation between content and presentation

1. Does the site use CSS for all presentation aspects (fonts, color, padding, borders etc)?
Use style sheets to control layout and presentation.

2. Are all decorative images in the CSS, or do they appear in the HTML?
The aim for web developers is to remove all presentation from the html code, leaving it clean and semantically correct.

3. Accessibility for users

1. Are “alt” attributes used for all descriptive images?
Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element.

2. Does the site use relative units rather than absolute units for text size?
Use relative rather than absolute units in markup language attribute values and style sheet property values’.

3. Do any aspects of the layout break if font size is increased?
Try this simple test. Look at your website in a browser that supports easy incrementation of font size. Now increase your browser’s font size. And again. And again… Look at your site. Does the page layout still hold together? It is dangerous for developers to assume that everyone browses using default font sizes.

4. Is there sufficient color brightness/contrasts?
Ensure that foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having color deficits.

5. Is color alone used for critical information?
Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.

6. Is there delayed responsiveness for dropdown menus?
Depending upon the need and requirements of the layout dropdown used in the website should not be too heavy to load on page.

4. Site management

1. Does the site have a meaningful and helpful 404 error page that works from any depth in the site?
A user-friendly website will give you a helping hand while many others will simply do nothing, relying on the browser’s built-in ability to explain what the problem is.

2. Does the site use friendly URLs?
Most search engines (with a few exceptions – namely Google) will not index any pages that have a question mark or other character (like an ampersand or equals sign) in the URL… what good is a site if no one can find it?

3. Do your URLs work without “www”?
While this is not critical, and in some cases is not even possible, it is always good to give people the choice of both options. If a user types your domain name without the www and gets no site, this could disadvantage both the user and you.

4. Does the site have a favicon?
A Favicon is a multi-resolution image included on nearly all professionally developed sites. The Favicon allows the Webmaster to further promote their site, and to create a more customized appearance within a visitor’s browser.