Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Business Benefits of Web Standards for Business Web Sites

Web standards are standardized specifications for internet markup languages such as HTML, CSS, and XML. "What the heck does that mean," you ask? Every web site must be coded with some form of internet markup language to make it readable by an internet browser, such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. These standards were formulated by the W3 Organization so web designers all over the world can create web sites with one goal in mind: make the internet a better place.

Why should you care? There are plenty of web sites that do not conform to web standards, so why should you? If you're a business owner and you have a web site, there are actually many benefits to having a web standards compliant web site. In the competitive world of internet marketing, every little advantage you have helps.

How Web Standard Compliant Web Sites Help Your Business
Site Wide Look and Feel Consistency

When a web site is designed to web standards, there will be 2 parts to a web page. One part will be the actual structure and content of the web site, while the other part is the presentation. Because the presentation is separate, you can guarantee that all of the pages of your web site will look the same.
Less Bandwidth, Faster Loading

Once again, by keeping the presentation (found in the CSS file) separate from the web site content, pages will load faster because the CSS file only needs to be loaded once. In the days of yore, all of the text formatting had to be included within the web page, so it meant more data had to be loaded with every page view.
Better Search Engine Optimization

Search engine spiders crawl the web to index all of the web pages they come across. Compared to human beings, there are very significant differences in how search engines see a web site. Dynamic effects such as those created by JavaScript are not taken into account. Text rendered with graphics cannot be read and parsed either. Separating presentation from content increases the information/markup ratio, making CSS-based documents more pertinent with regard to the search terms, which gives them the opportunity to rank higher in search results. Because the web site loads faster, a search engine is also less likely to "time out" on a web site and leave.
Less Use of Javascript

Javascript is a coding language for web design that can severely harm a web site's traffic and search rankings. Because Javascript has been used by hackers in the past, some people disable it all together from their browser. So if you have navigation on your web site that is powered by Javascript, it could be difficult or impossible for a visitor to get around.

In addition, Javascript can be clunky and it won't always display the same in every browser. Many of the reasons web sites use Javascript are for cool text and hovering effects that can be replicated with CSS code. That allows your web site to attract more visitors with a lot less web site code that has to be loaded.

As newer internet browsers are developed, they will all be web standards compliant. This includes browsers on cell phones. Because a web standards compliant web site has presentation separate from content, the presentation files can be modified to suit web pages for print, on-sreen, and mobile viewing.

Technology today allows people with disabilities to browse the internet. If a web site is not compliant with web standards, the software a disabled person uses may be unable to render a web site. Being accessible is mandatory in many countries for government agencies.
Reducing dependency on any one developer

If a web site is developed with undocumented coding features, poor coding or coding hacks, then it could be near impossible for any one else overtaking the web site to work with it. Following standards-compliance in requirements documents is a very effective way to ensure measurable quality of the final product, the W3C being an impartial judge.

Because standards are very well documented, another person taking over some standard-compliant code can begin right away and will not need to become familiar with the previous developer's coding practices.

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