The aim of this article is to underline the importance of standards compliant web pages in promoting usability, compatibility, and accessibility - therefore allowing equal opportunity and equal access to content for all.
A History of Non-Compliance
When Netscape lost the "Browser Wars" in April 2002, Internet Explorer was in complete dominance of the web browser market - with a 96% share (source: OneStat.com). For web developers at the time, this meant that designing for Internet Explorer was all that mattered. The dominance of a single web browser led to a disregard for standards compliance.
- Accessibility & usability problems when sites were accessed using other browsers.
- Decreased efficiency due to increased file sizes, and website code not following a standard set of rules.
- Misuse of HTML as a design tool.
The Benefits of Standards Compliance
The number of different ways to access the internet are increasing. Some of the less common user agents include:
- Mobile phones
- Text-mode browsers
- Text-to-speach synthesisers
- Braille browsers
- Robots (such as search engine spiders)
Standards compliance can be seen as a way to "future-proof" a website. New browsers will still correctly render websites constructed using past standards.
In the United Kingdom and Australia, accessibility is the law. The implementation of standards is a vital step towards accessibility. Accessibility benefits those with and without disabilities.
The use of standards is the only way to ensure that a website is accessible by all visitors, no matter how they access the web. By ensuring accessibility you are not neglecting any of your potential visitors.
Adherence to standards = a big step towards a functional, compatible, and accessible website.