Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Understanding Web Standards - W3C

The beauty of the web is that anyone (with a little knowledge and/or money) can have a web page. The first step in claiming your spot on the web is to claim a domain name. Then you code the page. Just like any other job, there is a wrong way and a right way.

For many occupations, such as lawyers, doctors, and teachers there are boards, such as the state bar association, medical boards, and education boards, that certify that a person or entity is entitled to practice.

There is a similar board for web pages, the W3C, or World Wide Web Consortium. Unlike the previously mentioned boards, they don't have any real power except to say that the code on your site doesn't meet standards. Instead, it relies on social pressure. It is similar to how the MPAA works. Technically, no movie needs to receive a rating, and it could be put into theaters with no guidelines whatsoever. What stops this from happening is that movie studios, the people who invest money in a movie, won't publish a movie if it doesn't receive a rating. Which in turn means, chances are conglomerate theaters, such as Hollywood Theaters won't play it, and you probably won't see it.

This peer pressure of sorts doesn't happen on the web to the extent it does in the movie industry. It comes into play in different ways, however. One frequent question that comes up around the design of websites is, "How do I increase my rank in Google?" While there are a variety of ways, one of them is having good coding practices. Also, most employers ask that their web designers are knowledgeable about them, if not comply with them as much as possible.

It can be difficult to find a page that validates with no errors to W3C standards. For instance, even Google, the simple logo and white page search engine, shows 51 errors. By comparison 10 ink studios shows only 9. Many of the web pages we design have less than that. Our CSS (cascading style sheets) validate 100% for all of our clients.

It's something that most people aren't aware of, but starting with a strong foundation is a great start to having a great web page. If you would like to test your web page for W3C compliance you can check out their validation page.

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