Web Standards Explained’s new article by Meryl Kaplan Evans, Web Standards Project: The Wasp is Back, Stinger and All states so well exactly why we all need web standards for our browsers. When I say 'we' I’m not only referring to web designers. 'We' includes everyone on the Internet and even those who haven’t experienced the Internet yet, too—many will get here in the near future.

Here’s a snippet from Evans' article:

"Why are we in this browser mess today? There are a number of reasons. First, browser developers add proprietary tags to their Web browsers to give themselves a competitive advantage. A developer could strictly follow the standards set by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), but some standards aren’t supported and can cause broken sites. Unfortunately, some browsers support some tags, other browsers support other tags, and none of them provide full support for all tags. It’s clear to any working Web designer that creating interoperable sites is a very challenging undertaking.

Enter our superheroes--the men and women of WaSP, a volunteer-based organization that’s working to make our lives as developers and designers as easy as possible."

We need standards in much the same way as other industries. How would you feel if you bought a lamp and it worked fine only after you installed the lamp company’s wiring? Then, if you decide instead to try to use your house’s electrical wiring the lamp flickers and doesn’t work right. At your neighbor’s house, the lamp won’t work at all and instead sparks and blows a fuse.

By having standards within the electrical industry, we can plug in our electrical equipment and use it. We also have a different kind of plug to run our higher demanding equipment, such as washers and dryers.

What we’re asking in the web industry is for standards not unlike other industries. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with creating millions of products that can plug in to the electrical industry’s standards and work. We’d like to be able to plug in our Web sites and have them work, too. We’ll even work with different types of plugs for different needs, comparable to the washer/dryer analogy above.

The article continues:

"The W3C provides the vision and works with all parties to determine the standards. Their job isn’t to act like the police. Therefore, an organization like WaSP makes sense.

It’s Zeldman’s belief that when we finally implement all standards, developers and designers will be able to reap tangible rewards, including:

  • Eased Web accessibility for everyone
  • Increased presentation and transactional sophistication Streamlined production
  • Reduced production costs
  • Improved time spent on content, concepts, design and user support

Zeldman reinforces this by saying that the implementation of standards ' . . . will free creative designers, programmers, writers, and producers to create products, entertainments, communities and resources we’ve only begun to dream about. It will enable all people to use the Web, while also making the Web accessible to the broadest possible range of Internet devices. All of this depends on Web standards. They are the baseline that will enable us to move forward.'"

Visit the Web Standards Project Web site when you can.

Here’s a quick list of the organizations and sites mentioned above:
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