Why Standards Matter

When you take your car into a mechanic you expect them to do the job correctly and to meet industry standards. It’s not something you ask about, as it’s taken as a given.
When it comes to web design, however, standards are all too often put in the back seat. You could get into a lengthy and irrelevant discussion of how browser software evolved, but it wouldn’t help you get your site to work properly for a potential buyer.
Why do standards matter?
They matter because it makes life easier for everyone.
If your website complies with W3C (http://www.w3c.org) standards then you can more or less guarantee that all visitors will have an equal experience.
Badly designed websites can cost you money in lost sales and if your business is online then this isn’t a good thing. Sites carrying “useful” badges like “best viewed in Internet Explorer” are going to cost you money.
I don’t use Internet Explorer. I’ve no reason to and neither did over 50% of visitors to one of my websites last month. Do you want to stop me from doing business with you? Telling me that my choice of browser or operating system doesn’t “fit” with your site’s “requirements” is a sure fire way of dissuading me from spending money with you.
Another thing that people tend to forget is “accessibility”. Accessible design doesn’t have to be ugly. It can help reach an audience you might otherwise miss and anyone who could be turned into a buyer is welcome, aren’t they?
This article first appeared in Computers in Business with the Sunday Business Post on March 2nd 2008.

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2 Responses to Why Standards Matter

  1. Darragh March 3, 2008 at 14:31 #

    In relation to accessibility, I can say with experience that I completely agree with you. The blacknight.ie website, your forums and indeed your blog is completely accessible. And it’s certainly not dull either!
    I think web standards are improving gradually. Although I hate developing in anything other than notepad / gedit, I have to admit that this improvement seems to be in some way due to the adoption of clean mark up and more structured layouts by web development tools such as dream weaver. More developers are using CRM tools also and the templates created for these are usually reasonably accessible. I think we’ve come a long way since the first draft of the W3C guidelines so let’s hope it continues!
    Oh, as an example of this continued increased vigilants, take the example of Microsoft’s Silverlight and Ajax .net add ons. They’ve actually assigned a bloke in Redding to work on the accessibility of these and the results are fantastic. Certainly better than the accessibility of Adobes flash player. They’ve realized the error of their ways recently but as a result, accessibility of some of their products is very visibly a bolt on solution.
    Sorry for the long response

  2. Michele Neylon March 3, 2008 at 23:54 #

    A long response is welcome 🙂
    And thanks for the postive feedback