Some web designers and web developers advertise on their websites and blogs that they use only standards compliant coding. Others write on the cost of not standards compliant coding. As a small business owner or a novice website creator you might not know exactly what standards compliance coding is, nor why you should take this into consideration when having a website designed or selecting a template. So, what is this standards compliant stuff all about?
What is Standards Compliant Coding?
There is a group called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that creates standards for technologies used on the web. Each part of the different technologies has a set of specifications (standards) set out for web designers and browsers to follow so everything on the web gets along.
For example, there are standards for HTML coding. HTML coding is what presents a website in the browser you are using.
Each browser interprets the HTML standards a different way, especially some of the fancier techniques used to create a website.
What Difference Does Using Standards Compliant Coding Make?
How your website is coded can affect how it is presented in the web browser your visitor is using.
A website created using old technology or browser specific coding can cause your website to break (also known as crash) in your visitor’s chosen browser.
By using standards compliant coding, the presentation attributes (the coding that makes the website look pretty) are moved to a separate file called an external stylesheet, leaving just the basic HTML coding required to present the web page content. This will make your web pages:
- appear to load quicker.
- easier to read for the search engines.
- easier to read for those who use technology to read web pages to them.
- render in any browser your visitor chooses to use.
- will be easier to upgrade as web technology advances.
- cheaper to maintain.
Note: Some tweaking of the external stylesheet may be required to make special effects work in all browsers. As mentioned above, each browser interprets the HTML elements (tags) differently but an experienced web designer will know how to overcome these problems.
How Do I Determine a Web Page is Standards Compliant?
There are various tools on the web to check that the HTML coding of a web page is using valid standards compliant coding. The W3C has it’s own markup validation service which we recommend you use as it would be most up to date.
Before you can check a web page is standards compliant the web page coding needs to contain:
- A DOCTYPE declaration.
The DOCTYPE declaration tells the validator (and the browser) which (X)HTML standard the web page is coded in.
- A character encoding specification.
The character encoding specification tells the validator (and the browser) what character set is being used within the web page.
- A properly constructed web page.
A web page has a document structure. If this is not followed properly, the web page will not validate and can cause problems for the more standards compliant browsers.
If you want to test your own work, a website template or a web designer’s work then:
- Copy the URL (web address in the address bar of your browser).
- Go to the W3C’s validation service.
- Paste the URL in the box provided for Validate by URI.
- Left click the Check button.
The validator will check the (X)HTML coding for the selected web page and return if it is valid.
If you see something like this:
This Page Is Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict!
Then the web page contains valid (X)HTML coding.
For those creating their own web pages and they have not yet been posted to the webspace the W3C offers:
- Validate by File Upload where you can upload your web page from your computer to the validator.
- By pasting your web page coding into the box provided.
I Have Heard Standards Compliant Coding Costs More
A web designer or web developer who has kept up their training to the current standards would be knowledgeable about standards compliant coding. Generally, it does not take any more time to actually code a web page to be standards compliant. There is a bit of time required to properly plan how to layout the website project and how to create the web page and it’s accompanying files efficiently.
A website project price for a standards compliant website might be a bit more because you are paying for the expertise it takes to create the website. You will have to consider whether having a website that is viewable by all your visitors is more important than having a website that will annoy potential customers and drive them away.
Other Code Validation Services at the W3C
- CSS Validation Service by upload where you can upload an external stylesheet from your computer.
- CSS Validation Service by URI where you enter the URL of the external stylesheet you wish to test.
- CSS Validation Service by Input where you paste your stylesheet coding into the box provided.
Further Reading on Standards Compliant Coding
- What are web standards and why should I use them?
- Why standards-compliant HTML matters
- Will Opera always work with standards compliant code?
- My Web site is standard! And yours?
- Buy standards compliant Web sites
- Why Validate?
- Preparing for standard-compliant browsers
Standards Compliant Coding and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
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