in Web Issues

Why web standards are important

If you (or your business) have a website, chances are youve heard a lot about web standards, and accessibility and how businesses are working closer towards web standards than ever before.

The reason why standards compliance is becoming important for a number of businesses (and private web owners) is because of a number of reasons.

(This list isnt exhaustive but highlights the main reasons for moving towards web standards)

Better functionality, usability and accessibility

This means ensuring your website can communicate to the widest audience possible by allowing people with visual or physical disabilities be able to read and navigate your website using technologies such as screen-readers without losing the context of your message.

By working closely with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, you can make your website more easier to use, make it functional and more usable. Thus, youll be able to broaden the appeal of your website, draw in more customers and increase prospects.

The latest UK laws on accessibility offers a framework for online businesses.

Can you be sued for not having an accessible website?

It depends on your circumstances, I suggest you to read the Alistapart’s article on web standards, read up on the legal case for accessible websites.

Then, find out how to implement website accessibility and approach your legal consul or the DTi for further information.

Communicating to a Wider audience

Making a website accessible not only means making it accessible for disabled people, but for technologies too. Standards compliancy allows your website to be viewed by mobile phones, PDAs and other future technologies, bringing more customers to your website.

Better Search Engine Optimisation

A standards compliant website makes it easier for search engines such as Google to find your website. A lot of todays search engines are becoming incredibly savvy about web standards, and whether your website uses a valid structural mark-up or not.

A valid structural mark-up means writing your web page to the latest W3C standards.

Future-proofing

A standards compliant website (one that adheres to the latest W3C standards) enables your website to work for future versions of web browsers, and reduces future development time and increases the life-span of your website.

Technologies your website you should be aiming for

There are two options;

  1. High-end accessibility/standards
    This means going for US section 508 (or for WAI level 2 or 3) with Strict XHTML, CSS. If you can, try to use an XML foundation because it will increase your future proofing and search engine optimisation even more however, beware an XML foundation can be very costly.
  2. Lower-end accessibility/standards
    This means going for a Transitional XHTML with CSS layout with a printable version. So long as it validates with W3C and you offer a printable version you shouldnt go too far wrong in terms of accessibility.

The second option is for solo web operators who dont have many pages, who arent too concerned about search engine placement, whereas the first is for the major corporations who need high end accessibility improve their website, brand identity, and customer-base.

Conclusion

If your website does not adhere to the latest web standards, chances are youll lose out on your search engine positioning, youll be putting barriers between your website and your customers, and it can cost you more money in the long-run.

By working with the latest standards, ensuring accessibility, functionality and usability you can really benefit from web standards.

So, why is web standards important in e-marketing?

Well, put simply, web standards enables you (and your business) to communicating to a wider audience, getting better search engine rankings and ensuring the long-term success of your website.