The Need for Standards

More and more is being said about web standards and the need to build compliant sites. That’s all well and good, but why is that the case, and what are the benefits to you of designing with standards in mind? How can you persuade a client to spend extra money on a standards compliant website?

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Why use web standards?

It is undoubtedly the case that designing with standards in mind takes extra time and expertise, but there are several arguments to support it all being worth the effort. Here are five solid reasons to justify the need for standards.

1. Make your job easier

Trying to pick your way through a mess of poorly written code is no fun – planning ahead and using well written, standards based code will save you masses of time in the long run. Writing semantic code (using the right tags for the right job) will also mean that updating your site in the future is a breeze. This is especially important if you are creating a site and passing it on to someone else to manage and update – they need to be able to understand how you’ve crafted the site.

2. Increase your audience

There’s no point having a website if no-one visits it. Designing with standards improves accessibility, and makes it easier for people with disabilities (for example, using a braille interpreter) to navigate through your site. Often your website will also look much better for people using older computers and web browsers – not everyone has the cutting edge computer you have.

3. Improve your search engine ranking

Getting your website listed well in search engines is the holy grail, and something companies spend millions of dollars on. One of the best methods to succeed in this arena is through a well-structured semantic website. This means using heading “h1” tags where appropriate and generally structuring your code consistently.

4. Stay professional

As the popularity of standards based coding increases and more web developers start to take it on board, it’s vital that you stay ahead of the curve and keep up with current trends. In order to attract clients as a web designer it’s a service you’ll need to offer. You can market standards as a way to improve search engine ranking and reach more customers.

5. Why not?

Coding with standards has so many advantages, and the only down-side is that it takes a little longer than using an ad-hoc, slap it all together method. The only major changes you need to make involve coding semantically, and passing your site through a CSS and XHTML validator before handing it back to the client. Not a huge set back!