Web Standards Curriculum

Supporting the Opera Web Standards Curriculum: Learn to build a better Web with Opera

Opera has just released (in con­junc­tion with the Yahoo! Web Devel­op­er Net­work) its Opera Web Stan­dards Cur­ricu­lum, hop­ing to pro­mote the spread of web stan­dards via a free cur­ricu­lum. While I am well-versed in web stan­dards, I think that a pro­fes­sion­al resource such as this is fan­tas­tic for edu­cat­ing clients as to why they should redesign their web sites with web stan­dards. Some rea­sons why are suc­cinct­ly stat­ed in the intro­duc­tion:

  1. Effi­cien­cy of code: As you’ll learn through­out the course, a lot of best prac­tice web stan­dards usage is all about reusing code—you can sep­a­rate your HTML con­tent from your styl­is­tic (CSS) and behav­iour­al (JavaScript) infor­ma­tion, allow­ing your file sizes to be kept small, and code to be writ­ten only once, and then reused wher­ev­er it is needed.
  2. Ease of main­te­nance: This fol­lows close­ly on from the last point—if you can write HTML only once, and then apply styles and behav­iour wher­ev­er they are need­ed using class­es and func­tions, then if you need to change some­thing at a lat­er date, you can just make the change in one place and it have it prop­a­gate through­out the entire web site, rather than hav­ing to spec­i­fy that change every­where that it is needed!
  3. Acces­si­bil­i­ty: The next two points are close­ly related—one of the big issues on the Web is mak­ing web sites acces­si­ble to every­one, no mat­ter who they are, regard­less of cir­cum­stance. This includes mak­ing web sites usable by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties such as blindness/visual impair­ment and motor impair­ment (ie, peo­ple who have restrict­ed move­ment, and might not be able to use their hands prop­er­ly, or at all). By using web stan­dards and best prac­tices, you’ll be able to make your web sites usable by this sig­nif­i­cant group of the web audi­ence with no extra effort.
  4. Device com­pat­i­bil­i­ty: by this, I mean ensur­ing that your web sites will work not only across dif­fer­ent platforms—ie Win­dows, Mac, Linux—but also alter­na­tive brows­ing devices, which these days can include mobile phones, TVs and games con­soles. These devices have lim­i­ta­tions such as screen size, pro­cess­ing pow­er, con­trol mech­a­nisms avail­able and more, but the good news is that again, using web stan­dards and best prac­tices, you can pret­ty much guar­an­tee that your web sites will work on most of these devices. There are more mobile phones in the world than PCs, a lot of which are Internet–capable, so can you or your clients afford to miss out on this mar­ket? For more on mobile web devel­op­ment, check out some of the ded­i­cat­ed arti­cles on dev.opera.com.
  5. Web crawlers/search engines: By this, we are talk­ing about what is termed search engine opti­miza­tion—the prac­tice of mak­ing your web sites as vis­i­ble as pos­si­ble to the so–called web crawlers that trawl the web and index web sites, and there­fore giv­ing you bet­ter search rank­ings on sites such as Google. There is a sci­ence to this (see SEO arti­cles such as Intel­li­gent site struc­ture for bet­ter SEO! and Seman­tic HTML and Search Engine Opti­miza­tion) but yet again, just by using web stan­dards you will make your site a lot more vis­i­ble on Google, Yahoo! etc, which is good for business.

With 23 arti­cles avail­able and more on the way, Oper­a’s Web Stan­dards Cur­ricu­lum looks like a winner!

(HT: Jon Hicks)