Not adhering to web standards is like rollerskating down the freeway. You might get to where you’re going, but it’s inefficient and fraught with peril.
Over the past few years there has been a large underground movement to unleash web standards and semantics on the world by means of clean, well-formed markup. I say underground simply because unless you work in the web arena, you probably aren’t even aware that such a large movement exists. There are literally thousands of sites out there dedicated to web standards, and a line is being drawn in the sand. It’s time for web designers to earn their keep—either adopt standards and best practices for web development, or stop calling themselves web professionals.
Why the paradigm shift? Why should my corporation care what the page markup looks like? Because search engines do. They care so much that they have dedicated teams of programmers who do nothing but define meaning between elements on a page, developing algorithms to assign rank and value to each and every element of each and every page on the internet. Of course, there are other benefits to building sites with web standards—maintenance, accessibility, bandwidth reductions, etc. But the real value of web standards for businesses comes in the form of search engine results pages.
- se·man·tic (adj.)
- 1. Of or relating to meaning, especially meaning in language.
Well-structured semantic code is critical to the online success of any business. If the search engines can’t understand your content, what chance do your customers have of even finding your site among the billions of other pages out there? Your content will not be read, your page hits will fall, and your online presence will suffer. There’s a good reason sites like AT&T.com, C|NET.com, and even Amazon.com are adopting web standards.
We’re not in 1995 anymore. Muddled, confusing, obfuscated, or jumbled markup are no longer acceptable means of hashing out a web page. Designers accustomed to building entire sites in WYSIWYG editors like Dreamweaver are going to be living on the street once their web publishing methods are weighed against online performance. It’s time to get in tune with reality: either get up to speed with web standards, or watch your online presence go the way of the buffalo.