The importance of web standards

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what are web standards

What is the web?

The Web is a common name for the World Wide Web, a subset of the Internet that consists of pages accessible in a Web browser. Generally speaking, the web and the internet are the same thing.

But the term Internet refers to a global network of servers that allow us to share information on the Web. This means, while the Web is a large part of the Internet, they are not the same.

In the late 1960s, the U.S. military developed an ARPANET telecommunications network. It is the first TCP/IP protocol suite implementation using packet switching and is the Web’s forerunner. These two technologies form the basis to build the modern Internet.

What are web standards?

Web standards are specifications that web designers and developers must follow to ensure that a website is easy to use, and available to everyone regardless of the device used to access it.

We build compliant websites to make them accessible, fast and cross-browser compatible, to improve user experience.

Importance of web standards

The Web is a public source of data, that anyone can build and use to share information. Users must have access to information regardless of how they access the web. This is the reason why web standards are essential.

Easy to maintain

Web designers and web developers create websites that are easy to maintain. With the release of HTML5, main web browsers support new HTML tags such as headers, footers, and navigation. These tags can help you better describe the elements you want to use on your pages.

Web developers also focus on creating websites and applications that other developers can understand, so the maintenance and updates are easy to implement.

Accessibility

Websites must be available to as many people as possible (related concepts include diversity, comprehensiveness, and inclusive design). It includes people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, and physical impairments. Creating an accessible website also means providing the means for users disregarding their age, cultural and geographical origin.

Browser backward compatibility

Websites should be designed to work with older browsers.

A best practice for browser compatibility is to ensure that your website is working and accessible in older versions of web browsers. The downside is the look and feel of newer websites may display differently so is a responsibility of the web developer to make sure the website works in the best possible way.

Web browsers are constantly updated and discontinued. For example, In 2016, Microsoft stopped supporting older versions of Internet Explorer, and web developers had to update websites to support Edge, which became the new browser from Microsoft.

Your website should always be maintained and checked to make sure is always user friendly and compatible with the newest browsers.

Search engine optimization

When you build a website using proper HTML, it will appear higher in search results. Building a website under web standards ensures that search engine bots index your code.

Besides, the CSS class name of the HTML element is helpful for telling the search engine what the element’s content is like. So, it needs to use a descriptive class name rather than defining a style that applies to the element.

Achieve a more stable Web

When we build websites that are compliant with web standards, we are making sure we’re creating stable websites that work on any device.

With the rapid adoption of mobile devices, more and more people are accessing the Web using mobile phones as their main device. These devices often link to the Internet via a 4G connection.  Now, phone contracts often have data caps that limit the amount of content that can be downloaded at certain speeds, this is why developers create websites that are optimized to load in any device without using too much bandwidth to load.

Best coding practices

Separating HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (JS) coding languages into separate files will improve loading times and efficiency. The CSS links are located at the top of the webpage (in the head section) to ensure that the rest of the content is loaded and styled.

JS files are included in the script tag. This tag is a blocking tag, meaning that the content after one of the tags is not loaded until the JS file is loaded. The rest of the page stops loading if the file is not found. So, adding these tags to the end of the HTML file is vital to ensure all page content is loaded before the JS file is loaded.

Example of Web standards

XML 1.0 – extensible markup language

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is the same markup language as HTML, but instead of having a single, fixed set of elements, you can define your own elements or use sets created by others. You can also use many sets in a single document by using XML namespaces.

XML applications such as XHTML and MathML are already W3C recommendations. Others are currently drafting works for the W3C.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheet

The Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a mechanism for changing the appearance of elements in HTML and XML, allowing you to assign styles to element types, element self-defined classes, and individual instances.

Stylesheets can use to define the look and feel of an entire site. With the introduction of CSS, the W3C recommends that the layout-specific features of HTML be phased out. And replaced with stylesheets to provide a more straightforward and structured World Wide Web.

Document Object Model

The DOM provides the full power and interactivity of scripting languages on web pages. The DOM provides a scripting language with easy access to the structure. It also includes content and presentation of documents written in languages such as HTML and CSS.

The DOM supports future technical improvements and allows any scripting language to interact with any language used in the document. This standard facilitates the programming of dynamic HTML and makes it easier to adapt to future Internet technologies.