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Case study of ESPN.com
Business Benefits of Web Standards

ESPN.com traffic fluctuates with popular sports being in or out of season, but throughout the year, they get anywhere from about 1 to 1.3 billion page views per month. This is for all ESPN-owned sites. For just our site on the ESPN.com domain, they average anywhere from about a half a billion to 950 million page views per month.

The Savings Add Up after implementing web standards

  • Page reduction (est.): 50KB
  • Page views/day: 40,000,000
  • Projected bandwidth savings:
    • 2 terabytes/day
    • 61 terabytes/month
    • 730 terabytes/year

For the month before their redesign, they calculated that 97.44% of their users were using standards-compliant browsers (IE 5+, Netscape 6+, Mozilla, Opera 6+, Safari, Chimera, and Konqueror), and the rest were either non-detectable or using non-compliant browsers. The only substantial groups among the non-compliant browsers were IE 4.x at 1.32% and Netscape 4.x at 1.17%. The other .05% of our users were either undetectable or were using obscure or masked user agents.

What were the advantages of the standard based new design, as compared to your old design?

Too many to list, really. Here are several major ones:

  1. Less code and faster loading pages. They reduced the size of our front page code by about 50%, and by using absolute positioning, they were able to display important parts of the page before other parts may have fully loaded yet.
  2. More modular content display. By separating their content logically, using divs, instead of presentationally, using tables, they can have one piece of content in our CMS [content management system] which is styled differently by every page on which it appears. A good example of this is if they had a content module which contained ten common news headlines, but it needed to fit in a 200 pixel wide blue area on one page and a 400 pixel wide grey area on another page.
  3. Greater user control over content display. Although their front page is the only page which has been converted over standards-based code [as of March 2003], their new story pages are on the way. With these new pages, users will have control over font, size, and leading of all body copy and their preference will be cookied and used throughout every other story page. It is amazing to me that more major sites are not already offering this as it makes a clear readability difference for some people.
  4. It's just the right thing to do. Writing old school HTML code was never very much fun but now it's getting downright tedious for most people. Furthermore, when the people who are actually writing the code read about open standards and realize what they are currently doing goes against where the industry is moving, they lose motivation to use tables and take an interest in structural markup.
    Workers in the web development industry are always looking to stay ahead of the development curve so their skills don't become obsolete. By giving them a way to further their skillsets and write next-generation code on one of the most visited sites in the world, they were helping them become the best designers, developers, and producers they can be.

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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