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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
(HT: Jon Hicks)