There are two opposite schools of thought concerning the designing/developing web sites.
On the one hand, there are the ‘purists,’ those that believe that developers should adhere to a set of rules or standards. The other group continues to develop seemingly haphazardly.
A website should be designed so as to be accessible by anyone or any user agent (i.e. browser, screen reader, cell phone, etc.). From a web designers/developers point of view, it is the right thing to do. After all, we are trying to reach as many viewers as possible, right? This is called designing according to web standards. We separate our content (the actual words, graphics, and links – called markup) from how that content looks (its presentation). We do this by utilizing cascading style sheets (CSS) and the latest HTML/XHTML coding on our web pages. Our pages are then presented by a browser faster, and are more apt to appear similar across different browsers.
This does not detract from individuality in design, but ensures consistency in functionality, accessibility and possibly usability.
But a continuing disturbing trend in a segment of the ‘web business’ community is to ‘quick launch’ sites that are still designed the ‘old’ way with tables. Oh, sure, styling may be accomplished with cascading style sheets, but the underlying structure of these sites is all wrong. They often are designed only for one particular browser. And this denies accessibility to a large number of web users. The quick design would also appear to be to ‘grow the bottom line’ quickly.
Now these web business sites ‘pride’ themselves on meeting the needs (wants) of their prospects. However, they deny access to many by not following standard web practices. Is this an oversight on their part or simply the lazy way of producing sites? Many support and promote the use of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web development software. These are quick, to be sure, but are they the best way to produce websites? Their code is often a conglomeration of what has been termed ‘tag soup.’ It would appear that the expediency of building websites over- rules the higher standard of creating quality sites that will withstand the test of time. Many of these sites claim that learning HTML or its newest iteration, XHTML is not necessary and takes too long to learn. But to cite from Bob Nelson’s 365 Ways to Manage Better: “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”
Many voices are urging the standardization of the web we all use and enjoy. Are all listening? Apparently not!