Web Standards Mean Business

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

You need a website for your business and you’ve heard about Web “standards” but you don’t really understand what it’s all about. You tried Google, but everything seems to be written for Web developers, not business owners, and you don’t have time to go through all the tech stuff, you just need the facts.

If that sounds like a pretty accurate description of where you’re at, read on, and in 10 minutes you’ll be able to decide for yourself wether or not your business needs a standards compliant website.

But before we can get into the meat of the subject, you’ll need some basic background information to help you get a better general picture. Here we go…

What is the WC3?

The World Wide Web Consortium (aka. W3C), led by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, was founded in 1994. Its purpose is to define specifications and guidelines to ensure that all Web technologies work well together and therefore guaranty the future of the Web as a whole.

What are standards?

The specifications created by the WC3 constitute what is known as the “Web standards.” A website built with technics adhering to those specifications is called: “standards compliant.”

Now that you know what Web standards are, we can move on to the meat of the subject: why your business needs a standards compliant website.

Reduced Page weight

Traditional Web page weighs as much as 50% more than standards compliant, clean, structural markup. For example, a 80K page can be cut down to 40K or less. There are 2 direct benefits from cutting down the page weight of your Website:

  • It will save you money by cutting in half or more your bandwidth requirements
  • It will make your Website load faster, minimizing chances to loose “impatient” users

Lowers both production and maintenance costs

When built the older “traditional” way, the code used for the “look and feel” of your website is intertwined with its content. It makes it time consuming and prone to errors to modify one without effecting the other. On the other hand, when your site is standards compliant, its design and content are completely separated. In practice, it makes it much faster and cost effective to update and/or expand your website. It brings you both the flexibility necessary to adapt to the market and the scalability required to keep your site relevant as your business grows.

Your site is “search engine friendly” out of the box

Well structured semantic markup makes the content on your website very easy to parse for search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Coupled with a few other technics such as clean URIs, and a well crafted content, your website will appear much higher in search results.


If your website is built according to Web standards, it will work consistently across all major browsers and platforms, as well as internet devices such as PDA or cell phones, without any code forking needed. Code forking is when you create different versions of the same code, for example an “Internet Explorer version” and a “Firefox version” of the same site.

Forward Compatibility

Your Website will continue to work as new browsers and devices come out. This effectively limits maintenance costs to a minimum and increases your site’s audience to its maximum.


Your website will be accessible to those with special needs, for example it will work with braille readers and screen readers used by blind people. It will allow you to maximize your potential audience, comply to accessibility laws and guidelines, and decrease chances of accessibility related litigation.

Quality Guarantied

The main purpose of WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) software, such as Dreamweaver or Front Page, is to simplify the website creation process for people who don’t necessarily fully understand its underlying technologies. Unfortunately, these programs are not sophisticated enough to output standards compliant code. Only a professional developer hand coding your website from scratch can make it standards compliant and semantically correct. Requiring your site to be standards compliant is an easy step to guaranty your website is in the hand of a “certified” professional.

Some real life examples

I’ve heard before the argument that CSS (cascading Style Sheet) based layouts (one of the main characteristics of standards compliant websites) are “cutting-edge,” relying on an immature technic, and not as reliable as “traditional” table based layouts. So here are a few examples of major websites that have been redesigned with CSS and standards compliant technics:

I hope this article helps you understand what Web standards can do for you business. I tried to keep it as accessible to the layman as possible, but if you think anything needs clarification or further development, feel free to comment below.

Filed under: Standards