Web standards are just "minor details"

A drawing of a cartoon man pointing upwards

Heads up! This post was written in 2007, so it may contain information that is no longer accurate. I keep posts like this around for historical purposes and to prevent link rot, so please keep this in mind as you're reading.

— Cory

A friend of mine recently graduated and spread his wings by venturing into the corporate world. He obtained a position as a junior project manager for a web consulting firm in Atlanta. Their work is very professional and their designs are great, but it was immediately evident that they had no understanding of web standards whatsoever. I asked my friend about his company's stance on the matter.

I asked about that. The sites we build are for industrial use, non-computer people, so we make em work and don't fuss about the minor details — web standards anyway. We focus on functionality.

[Jeffrey Zeldman](Jeffrey Zeldman) would pop a blood vessel if he had heard that. After all, isn't that what web standards is all about? Seems like someone is missing the point here. Mark my word, web companies that worry more about the appearance of their work than the framework that supports it will soon find themselves struggling to keep up with the rest of the world.

That said, I'd like to recommend a very good book called Designing With Web Standards. Whether you want to give a hard-headed employer some insight about the future of the web or you just want to learn a little bit about it yourself, this book will provide you with a complete understanding of what the web was meant to be, and how we're going to get it there.

An equal opportunity disease afflicts nearly every site now on the web, from the humblest personal home pages to the multi-million dollar sites of corporate giants. Cunning and insidious, the disease goes largely unrecognized because it is based on industry norms. Although their owners and managers might not know it yet, 99.9% of all websites are obsolete.

Well said, Mr. Zeldman. Well said.