This article explores the benefits of web standards for developers including valid, sematic and accessible markup, as well as who benefits most from these practices.

1. The Web Standards

"Web standards are intended to be a common base... a foundation for the world wide web so that browsers and other software understand the same basic vocabulary".

Eric Meyer

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and other standards bodies have established technologies for creating and interpreting web-based content. The actual standards are:

1.1. Structural Languages

1.2. Presentation Languages

1.3. Object Models

1.4. Scripting Languages

1.5. Additional Presentation Languages (Markup)

2. What are Web Standards about?

These 'Web Standards' are designed to:

For web designers and developers, Web Standards are about using standards (Structural, presentational, Object and Scripting languages) and best practices (valid, semantic and accessible code) to benefit your users, your clients and yourself.

3. A mindset change

3.1.Traditional website

Traditional website development is an extension of the printed media - designed to make sites look pixel-perfect in the 5-6 main browsers. Common characteristics include:

3.2. "Web Standards" website

Web Standards are about accepting the web as a broad communication tool that can be accessed by a wide variety of users and a variety of devices. Common characteristics include:

4. Semantically correct markup

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.)

You should use standard HTML elements for your markup and avoid styling HTML elements to look like other HTML elements. In simple terms, this means:

5. What is valid code?

Validation is a process of checking your documents against a formal standard, like those published by the W3C. A document that has been checked and passed is considered valid.

5.1. Why use valid code?

5.2. How do you check if your code is valid

5.3. How do you make your code valid?

6. Why use accessible code?

6.1. How do you make your code accessible?

7. Why use CSS to separate content from presentation?

The aim for web developers is to remove all presentation from the html code, leaving it clean and semantically correct.

8. A CSS based site in action

One of the powerful aspects of CSS is that content can be re-purposed to suit your needs - without changing a line of html code.

9. How do your VISITORS benefit from Web Standards?

10. How do your CLIENTS benefit from Web Standards?

11. How do YOU benefit from Web Standards?

12. What are the downsides

13. How do you achieve Web Standards?

Web Standards are not a black and white issue. All developers should be aiming to gradually move towards Web Standards-based sites.

The move from traditional to Web Standards based development takes time and practice. Rather than jump in and quickly becoming frustrated, set achievable goals and gradually move towards Web Standards. For example:

13.1. Basic changes

13.2. Intermediate changes

13.3. Advanced changes

13.4. Practice CSS layouts

14. Conclusion

Web Standards deliver:

Web Standards benefit your users, your clients and yourself.

15. Web Standards resources

15.1. Web Standards

15.2. Semantic code

15.3. Validation

15.4. Accessibility

15.5. CSS

16. Translations