Web Standards - Rooting for the Underdog
Roger Johansson wrote a nice article on why web standards still matter. He notes that recently there has been an increased level of interest and activity around web standards, but those that do strive for excellence in their code (i.e. web standards) are in the extreme minority.
I would tend to agree with this, take his example:
I encourage anyone who thinks we do not need yet another article or book on Web standards, CSS, accessibility, graceful degradation, progressive enhancement, or anything else related to best practices, to take a quick look around you.
Go on, examine some of the work produced by Web agencies and IT consultancies in your town, city, or country. Look at the work of your colleagues and competitors. Would you say that the people working there have nothing left to learn? That they would not benefit from reading an article that explains how to replace their old school Web design techniques with modern, accessible, and search engine friendly methods? Did the sites you just examined really use valid, semantic markup and have no accessibility problems? Really? Wow. You must live in a very small place, with your place of employment being the only company in the Web business.”
Back in the day it was a given that programmers knew HTML…you didn’t really even have to ask. “Oh of course I know HTML!”. Well that day is over I’d say. In this era being an HTML programmer is a serious skillset which needs constant updating, much like any ‘server side’ language. With different browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions, user agents among the obstacles any self respecting web developer should be keeping at the forefront of their (front end) development; it’s no wonder that being an HTML programmer is hard enough.
Which leads me to think about server side developers (whether that be ASP.NET, J2EE, ColdFusion, PHP, Ruby etc) and the skill level (or lack thereof) they posses when dealing with (X)HTML/CSS. Roger’s point of a peer code review is interesting, I don’t know many ‘back end’ developers who can (or even care about) write clean, semantic front end code which conforms to at least some web standards.
With the landmark case going against Target in the US, hopefully some more mid to large scale projects (and their relevant IT managers) will take note and seriously look at standards. Although the case in point (Target) was about accessibility, to me it all comes under the banner of web standards.
So what are YOU doing about web standards? Are you:
- Using the web developer toolbar?
- Validating your pages?
BrowserCam is another great tool for checking your site in different combinations of browser/operating system.
Another nice little article by Tantek Çelik on 8 steps to serving better (X)HTML