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The Business Benefits of Web Standards

Accommodate Multiple Platforms

Standards-based code and cross-platform go hand in hand. Designs should behave identically on all supported platforms (Mac, Linux, Unix, Windows...)


A very significant portion of electronically-stored information is produced for the web and written in HTML format. Most of this information uses invalid HTML which happens to be displayed correctly in permissive older browsers. As the web evolves, web browsers may eventually become either less permissive, or behave differently when given invalid markup (e.g. parse invalid data and render it slightly differently). Using valid, standards-compliant markup ensures that data will still be re-usable for a long time, as specifications on how to parse the standard formats are well documented and here to stay.

Contrary to popular belief, coding to standards does not mean producing less compelling content. As a matter of fact, almost anything taking advantage of proprietary extensions can be done in a standards-compliant way, with the added benefit of being cross-platform and future-proof.


Using strict HTML and separating structure from content paves the way to XHTML, an XML-compatible version of HMTL. Using XHTML will enable web authors to leverage tools from the XML world, such as XSLT, to easily manipulate XML data.

Using XHTML is a way to enter a set of standards composed of XML-based technologies, such as XML, XSLT (transforming data), SVG (animated graphics), MathML (describing mathematic expressions)... Such technologies have been designed to be interoperable, are the base of Web Services. This goes much further than just web authoring.

Reduce cost of maintenance

Maintaining a web site is often very costly and using Web Standards can help a lot in this regard.

Benefits of CSS over JavaScript

Specifically, graphics and JavaScript are often used for special effects on text fragments. As Style Sheet technology gives designers good typographic control and permits effects such as roll-overs, it greatly reduces the need for JavaScript programming and creation of graphics. Even more importantly, it reduces bandwidth consumption by images.

Well-formed HTML code

One of the major headaches for web developers comes from web pages being displayed differently in various browsers. Such rendering differences do exist in older browsers, but most of them are well known and documented. In many cases, rendering differences are caused by ambiguous coding.

Well-formed code significantly reduces rendering differences in various browsers. Using validation tools such as the W3C Validator helps by spotting coding errors and making sure HTML code is well-formed, which eliminates ambiguity in parsing by browsers.

Compatible with newer browsers

More and more browsers, other than Internet Explorer for Windows, are used to surf the web:

  • Windows : MSIE, browsers using Netscape Gecko's rendering engine , Opera.
  • Mac: MS-Tasman (IE/Mac's rendering engine) , Netscape Gecko-based browsers, KHTML, Opera
  • Linux: Netscape Gecko-based browsers, KHTML-based browsers, Opera

Overall, 5 different rendering engines are used to surf the web using dozens of browsers on 3 platforms.

In such an increasingly heterogeneous environment, testing each web page in every configuration is impossible. Coding to standards is then the only practical solution.


Next: Benefits to web site visitors

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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