September 21, 2007

"Why web standards are neccessary, and how to get away with not following them."

Are web standards absolutely necessary for a webmaster or web designer? This is a question every webmaster and every single web designer should be asking themselves, if they haven't already. It's a question that I have considered answering multiple times...

In it's youth, the internet was a place where almost anything was possible. Websites were designed for one reason and for one reason alone: exposure on computers.

Fast forward to the present day. We now have phones, navigation devices, personal data assistants, laptops, and things with all of the aforementioned in one package, that are accessing the internet and browsing through websites from almost any location in the entire world.

This new technology, and the ability to access the world wide web from practically anywhere, opened new doors for internet users like yourself. But, this new technology and these new abilities closed doors for web designers.

In previous years, web designers had to set-up multiple websites for different viewing devices.

Something that looked practically magical on a desktop computer monitor may have looked like literal crap on a cell phone screen. Eventually webmasters got smart, and web standards were born.

Allowing a set of standards, policies, and philosophies to be the governing authority over web browsers on any device, web standards made it easy for web designers to create one website that would look good on any device, from anywhere.

But webmasters and web designers now face new problems within the web standards themselves.

Which brings us back to the original question: are web standards absolutely necessary? What if a website does not validate all of today's web standards?

If web standards are necessary, how is it possible to get away with not following them?

The internet needs web standards so that websites can be designed to fit the needs of every person who browse the internet.

Obviously not everyone is the same. Not everyone uses Internet Explorer or FireFox to browse the internet. And because people are using different web browsers with different technology on different devices - all of which look at web code slightly different - web standards make it easy to design websites that will look great in all browsers and on all devices.

Web standards are needed, but there are ways to get around the latest web standards and still have your website load properly on different browsers/devices.

As an example: there is a way to create rounded corners using web code. It's a method that complies with the latest web standards, but is easy to get around.

Instead of using code to create a rounded corner effect online, someone could use a simple image. It's that simple.

And there's nothing wrong with cheating the standards.

If a web designer knows what they are doing, and they following the web standards to the best of their abilities - and if the website they are designing loads properly on different browsers/devices - then there is nothing wrong with cheating the system a little bit.

But it's always a good idea to validate a website's markup and make sure it's coded well.