By now, most people have (hopefully) heard about “web standards” or at least all web designers and developers have. At first it may seem like these are just a bunch of rules that you are forced to follow when really, they are a set of guidelines that will help you to ensure your website is cross browser compatible and able reach as many readers as possible. When I say “reach as many readers as possible” I am talking in terms of accessibility but also in terms of search engines.
First off, I want to say that accessibility is now more than making a site that works for the visually impaired and screen readers – it means a site that works across multiple browsers and even mobile devices. A lot of web design companies will build a website that may work on every browser you have access to now which is a good start. But if your designer built your site with web standards in mind that also means your website will more than likely weather the storm of future browser updates and version changes which saves money in redevelopment in the long run.
Side Note: If you were to redesign your site in the future regardless of the reason, a website previously well built and standards compliant will save you money in time and rebuilding. Plus, your designer will be pleasantly surprised to find code that is much easier to work with.
Second, a well built site makes better use of style sheets and gives your website a clear separation between content, and presentation. Why is this important? A few reasons actually:
- Your site will load faster (especially important on mobile devices these days)
- It is easier (and faster) to make adjustments to an entire website like text color, etc.
- Your content is easier to read for search engines
That last one is big because having cleaner code is something that search engines can notice and it also makes it easier for search engines to get a good idea about the content of your site. You get rewarded in search results pages as you start to show up closer to that desired first page.
These are just a few of the advantages in keeping up to date and utilizing web standards. The standards discussion could go on for days and there are always debates about future standards and best practices as things constantly change. A good example in today’s world is Apple’s refusal to support flash on their mobile devices. This in their view is to utilize more forward thinking and accessible methods like HTML5 for video that will load faster and have better support across browsers, but that’s another article..