An introduction to website standards & how your business can benefit
Most web designers have heard about web standards – yet not all make the effort to adhere to them. In this article we will be focusing on the benefits to your businss of a standards compliant website.
What are Web Standards?
OK so what are web standards? Web standards were laid out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and are best practices for web coding – of most relevance to businesses looking to get online are the standards for XHTML and CSS coding.
Website design pre-standards…
In order to achieve an appealing design web designers turned to ‘hacks’ to create the pages – the most commonly used one being the use of tables for page layout. Content and layout were thoroughly intertwined in the coding of the website.
Whilst we won’t be bogging you down with talk about code just take a look at this small snippet of ‘old style code’ used to create a page heading:
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="16" color="#330099">Ecommerce Web Design Coventry</font>
… and website design now
Things have evolved over the years and most browsers now support XHTML and CSS standards which allows web designers to create sites that look great but also adhere to the web standards – without the use of hacks.
Following on from the example above our page heading with website standards now looks like this:
<H1>Ecommerce Web Design Coventry</H1>
The design of the website is kept separate from the content.
How does this affect my business?
Whilst it can be easier to create a website using the old ‘hacks’ infact there are many benefits for your business to select a web designer who will take the time and effort to develop your website in accordance with the web standards.
Some key advantages of a standards compliant website:
A Faster Website
Use of web standards reduces the amount of code used to create each page. Your website files are smaller to download making speed of browsing for your customers much faster.
A secondary advantage of this is reduced hosting bandwidth costs!
Improved Search Engine Rankings
As search engines do not understand layout code (such as the font tags in the above example) a non standards compliant website can negatively impact on your search engine rankings!
In a standards compliant website your important website content is given much more weighting as the search engines are presented with pages to spider which use only a small amount of page markup that they understand – the rest of the page being your content!
Easier to update
Changing your logo from blue to pink and need the text to match? With a web standards compliant website – not a problem.
As the design is kept separate from the content alterations to the look and feel of the website is a lot quicker and easier, usually involving just updating 1 CSS file instead of having to alter code on every page!
Web standards are a great move in making your website accessible for all your users. For example, users with visual impairments often rely on screen readers which have problems reading the old ‘tables based’ websites.
As a website owner you have a legal obligation to make your website accessible – proper use of the web standards goes a long way towards meeting these requirements.
Why wouldn’t I use web standards?
At Glassraven we cannot think of any reason why a business would choose not to have a web standards compliant website.
Although finding a designer who adheres to the standards can take longer than just finding a web designer, your business can only benefit from ensuring that your website adheres.
ALL Glassraven designed websites are fully W3C standards compliant.
Check if your website is web standards compliant on the W3C website.
About the Author
This article is part of a series written by Sadie Knight of Glassraven web design, Coventry. The full series of articles is available on the Glassraven website.
Glassraven, established in February 2002, are specialists in web design, ecommerce web design and bespoke web development.