Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Voices That Matter

Jeffrey Zeldman On Why To Incorporate Web Standards

  • Print
  • + Share This
Web standards hold the key to accessible, cost-effective web design and development, but you wouldn't know it from surveying most big commercial sites. In this chapter, CSS guru Jeffrey Zeldman explores some of the reasons web standards have not yet been incorporated into the normative practice of all design shops and in-house web divisions, and are not yet obligatory components of every site plan or request for proposal. If you need help selling standards to your colleagues, this chapter is for you.
This chapter is from the book

Web standards hold the key to accessible, cost-effective web design and development, but you wouldn’t know it from surveying most big commercial sites. In this chapter, we’ll explore some of the reasons web standards have not yet been incorporated into the normative practice of all design shops and in-house web divisions, and are not yet obligatory components of every site plan or request for proposal.

If you’d prefer to read web standards success stories, turn to Chapter 4. If you’re sold on standards and are ready to roll up your sleeves, skip ahead to Chapter 5. But if you need help selling standards to your colleagues, this chapter is for you.

Lovely to Look At, Repulsive to Code

In mid-2002, with six other new media designers, I served on the judging committee of the 8th Annual Communication Arts Interactive Awards (www.commarts.com), arguably the most prestigious design competition in the industry. The sites and projects submitted in competition were among the year’s most skillfully developed and designed.

We judges initially spent 10 weeks reviewing thousands of websites and CD-ROMs, narrowing the field to hundreds of finalists from which fewer than 50 would be selected as winners. The final judging took place in the Bay Area, where the seven of us were sequestered for a week. Until winners were chosen, we could not leave. At week’s end, we had chosen 47 winning projects and had thereby been released from bondage.

To celebrate the end of the judging (and with it, my newfound freedom), I met a San Francisco friend for dinner. The competition intrigued my pal, who knew a little something about web development himself.

My friend asked, “Did you take off points if the sites were not standards-compliant?”

I blinked. “None of them were standards-compliant,” I said.

It was a fact. Of thousands of submitted sites, not one had been authored in valid, structural HTML. Many of these sites were visually arresting [3.1] and skillfully programmed [3.2]; several offered compelling, well-written content; and a few were startlingly original. But not one had a clue about valid structural markup, compact CSS, or standards-based scripting.

More than half the submitted sites had been developed entirely in Flash. Most of the rest worked only in 4.0 browsers, only in IE4, or only in Netscape 4. A few worked only in Windows. Of the hundreds of finalists, most of them lavishly (and expensively) produced, and each of them in its own way representing the industry’s best professional efforts, not one had the slightest use for web standards.

Little has changed since then. The 11th Annual Awards (www.commarts.com/CA/interactive/cai05) held in 2005 mostly featured wonderfully creative but non-standards-related stuff like the Borders GiftMixer 3000 [3.3].

Common Goals, Common Means

The websites submitted to Communication Arts are wildly diverse in their creative and marketing objectives, but most share certain underlying goals—the same goals as your sites and mine. We all want our sites to attract their targeted audience, encourage participation, be easy to understand and use, and say all the right things about our organization, product, or service, not only in words but also in the way the site looks and works.

Most of us would like to get the best value for the money in our budgets. We want our sites to work for as many people and in as many environments as possible. We hope to avoid bogging down in browser and platform incompatibilities and to stay at least one jump ahead of the swinging scythe of technological change.

Most of us hope to create a site that will work well into the future without the continual, costly technological tinkering described in Chapter 2. We would rather spend our limited time updating content and adding services than recoding our sites every time a new browser or device comes along.

Standards are the key to achieving these goals. So why haven’t they taken the design community by storm?

Perception Versus Reality

For one thing, as with accessibility (see Chapter 14), many designers hold the mistaken belief that web standards are somehow hostile or antithetical to the needs of good graphic design. For another, those who create standards are not in the business of selling them; the visually pedestrian sites of the W3C [3.4] or Ecma (www.ecma-international.org) hold little inspirational appeal for graphic stylists and consumer-oriented designers. Such sites’ lack of style does little to combat the myth that standards are antithetical to visual design. Only beautifully designed sites that use standards [3.5] can overturn that perception.

Then, too, designers and developers who’ve taken the time to learn the Heinz 57 varieties of proprietary scripting and authoring might see little reason to learn anything new—or might be too busy learning JSP, ASP, or .NET to even think about changing their fundamental front-end techniques.

Those who depend on WYSIWYG editors to do their heavy lifting have a different reason for not using standards. Namely, they depend on WYSIWYG editors. Thus, unless they do a lot of extracurricular reading, they may be unaware that leading WYSIWYG editors now support standards. Many highly skilled developers use WYSIWYG tools like Dreamweaver, of course, but so do some semi-skilled workers who would be powerless to create even a basic web page if denied access to said tools.

Finally, it is only in the past few years that mainstream browsers have offered meaningful standards compliance. Many web professionals are so used to doing things the hard way, they haven’t noticed that browsers have changed. Let’s examine this last reason first.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020