Web Standards

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Web Standards are the ‘grammar’ of the Internet – they define how HTML works, and how web browsers understand it. Because web browsers can handle pages with poor grammar, even errors, the vast majority of web sites do not follow web standards, and will not validate using the W3C validation tools. However, most of us know that problems with websites often occur across different browsers – a site will work properly in one browser, and fall apart in another. This is because different browsers will deal with poor HTML differently.

Why Web Standards Matter to You

You will save money:

You will provide a much better site to your stakeholders.

Why PXI embraced standards-based design

Technical Details

There are, broadly, two kinds of programming languages used by web sites, client side languages and server-side languages. Server side languages (like perl or PHP) are programs that run on the web server itself, and are used to access databases, run content-management systems, and process information. Client-side languages are programs that are sent to the viewers computer, and processed by their web browser. HTML is the most familiar example.

HTML is what is know as a ‘markup language’, a set of coding standards that, when included in a document, can be used by web browsers to display the document according to the author’s intent. All browsers know how to understand HTML, though different browsers sometimes interpret it slightly differently. This is because the vast majority of HTML on the Internet today does not conform to the coding standards in the actual specifications of the language. Standards are kind of like proper spelling and grammar – they are needed to ensure everyone can understand exactly what is meant.

XHTML 1.0 is a current stanard from the W3C that we follow. It’s a lot like HTML 4, but because it is XML based, it requires a little more rigour. XHTML, by deprcating some elements, encourages further is the separation of design from content. XHTML uses stylesheets (CSS) to define the way a document will look, and clear, simple HTML markup to define the actual content. From a design perspective, XHTML encourages us to keep our pages simple, fast and light, with a minimum of graphic and coding excess. Pages that were once 300 lines long can be written in 50 lines. Text is coded as actual text, not littered with font tags and layout tables.

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