Of course you do. Rather, the question should be, “Does your website have standards?” Believe it or not, most websites on the web today don’t! So what is standards compliance for websites?
Standards compliance simply means that the code that makes the website work follows standard, agreed-upon rules. In web design terms, if a website isn’t standards compliant, it’s usually called “Quirks Mode.” While we admire the free spirited and the quirky, these are not necessarily good qualities for your technology!
So, you may be asking, what are the benefits of a standards-compliant website?
It’s easier to use.
A standards-compliant website is more user friendly. Since it follows the rules, it has a much better chance of working the way it’s supposed to. A web surfer’s browser is given all the necessary code to understand the website and display it, and search engines, such as Google, have a much better time understanding the site. This translates into getting more site visitors through search engines…and providing a better experience for your visitors when they arrive.
Additionally, people who have different abilities have a much easier time accessing the content on a standards-compliant website. For example, someone who has visual impairments may use screen reader technology to have websites read aloud to them. Since standards-compliant websites have text coded properly (e.g., headings, paragraphs, bulleted lists, etc.), they can read it aloud properly to your website visitors. Most screen readers know how to read standards-compliant websites. It’s anybody’s guess in a quirks-mode website.
It works better in lots of browsers.
Browsers are multiplying faster than rabbits these days! While most people use Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, there are many, many more. And as browsers are created, they are programmed to interpret standards-compliant websites rather accurately. Since there’s a rule sheet to follow, it’s much easier for browser developers to program their browsers to read this code than it is for them to guess at all the different possibilities that exist in quirks mode. (Okay, so Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are a different story, but that’s for another day…) Anyway, why not reach people who might be using any kind of browser by serving up some good, standard code?
It’s ready for the future.
Do you plan for your website to grow with your business? Of course you do! As technology grows and changes as well, don’t you want your website to keep on working?
Since standards-compliant websites follow a set of rules, they are already prepared for the future. The rules are already written and are in place. They may be added to, but the basics remain. So your website will still show correctly as newer and newer browsers and technologies are created. However, who knows what will happen to those “anything goes” websites as technology changes?
So…do you have standards?
There’s one way to find out! Go to the W3C Validator (
http://validator.w3.org/) to check your website. You’ll get an instant report on how your website fares. Don’t worry if the validator reports some problems. A standards-compliant web designer can easily fix them. And if you’re building a new site, be sure that you insist upon standards compliance. Remember, if you’re looking to reach more people and be ready for the future, it’s the only way to go!