WebRef Update: Featured Article: A Little More than Standard
A Little More than Standard
So just what makes one site better than others? A lot of gurus proclaim to have answered that question, and I believe many have succeeded (like Vincent Flanders of Web Pages That Suck). The catch is that, so far, answers on the topic have focused mainly on "what not to do." What designers really need is a way to prevent those mistakes, not more ways to catch them after the fact. Let's face it, diversity on the Web is good, but too much just leaves users lost. Implementing standards will allow users to flow easily from one site to the next, without confusing navigation elements. Uniformity, in correctly proportioned doses, does wonders. This is where I throw in my two cents (that's about all I carry around in my pocket these days - I only prefer the abstract form of change).
The answer to that problem (no, not carrying pennies in my pocket) comes in the form of Web Design Standards. While a valiant push has been made in the areas of XML and CSS, universal standards of overall Web design have yet to emerge in any coherent form. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, has set the only measurable markers so far. Apart from Web design, standards in the technology sector have developed of their own accord - out of need. Web design is one of the last areas to enter self-regulation. It's about time this changed. I propose that this "Web Design Standards list," already started on a limited scale, be developed over time with careful and well-prepared research, in addition to open debate on the issues.
The Web Standards Project has long sought to show Microsoft and Netscape (among others) the benefits of supporting the same standards and features of markup and programming languages. By referencing a list of Web design standards, The Web Standards Project would be able to more easily achieve its goal of promoting the standard implementation of these languages. Allying these two movements would ease the transition to a fully structured Internet, one where Web viewers aren't plagued by atrocious design errors that escaped weeks of testing. When browsers and Web sites agree fully, the Internet will come together like it was intended.
The result: Easier Web design and a better experience for every surfer.
Web Design Standards touch on an area largely left alone by designers, concerned with limits on creativity. Standards actually pose little threat to choking creativity. The purpose is simple - to eliminate the current chaos of Web design. Rather than develop for four different browsers on three different platforms each, developers will only have to create sites once. This gives welcome relief to overworked designers and promotes a fair field of competition. Imagine not having to worry about which browser or platform your viewers are using to access your site. As long as you build the site to 640x480, you won't be denying access to potential customers. This is only the beginning - wireless and other alternative browsers will be accommodated in time.
Revised: May 25, 2000