by Bill Schmidt, Web DevelopmentWhy Use Web Standards? - AJ Ross Creative Media
The Web Development community often stresses the importance of following the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) code standards for creating web sites. While being completely error free is sometimes unobtainable (because of browser differences), the current wisdom is to future-proof web sites by complying with standards.
If you have errors, you may think, “but my site looks fine! Why should I worry about validation?”
Here’s why you should use web standards:
Web standards reflect quality. If your site fails to load, doesn’t work properly, or doesn’t look like it’s “supposed” to look, visitors will simply move on. Your competitors are just a click away.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use Web crawlers or “spiders” to traverse the Internet and index web pages. It’s important to be in this index so that people can find your site when they type in keywords. When a search engine doesn’t see your fantastic content because of an error, your potential customers may never see it either.
Having a validated website ensures consistency between web browsers. When your website is on the Internet, there is no way to control what visitors are using to view your page. They could be on a PC, a Mac, a laptop or mobile device—each with its own web browser. Using web standards is one of the best ways to build a site that will look consistent between platforms.
Pages that validate will also load faster. Dial-up connections and wireless handheld devices (smart phones, iPads, etc.) are limited in speed and it is important to have a fast loading page. The web is all about instant gratification; users will leave your page if it’s slow.
Web sites that conform to web standards are easier to maintain. If any changes need to be made (and count on it, they will), web sites with clean code will be less costly.
Standard compliant web sites are future proof. By adhering to standards, you will save time and money when you need to troubleshoot, debug, or modify your website. The current recommendation has been the same since 2001. Work is being done on a new standard, and is expected to become the recommendation in 2012. If the new recommendation remains in place just as long, will your website last through the next decade?
Your website is a crucial part of your brand and an important marketing tool. Make sure it’s working at its maximum potential. Whether you’re just joining the online world or you’re updating your old site, using W3C recommendations is an important technical consideration you should discuss with your web design professional.