HTML and CSS Reference
One of the major problems with web standards is that free access to them is not sufficient to convince people to use
them. Standard implementations of authoring tools are limited, and the web sites produced by them seldom follow
standards. While constantly evolving, the standards support of web browsers is often incomplete.
With the growing popularity of web publishing, the need to make the process easier arose. As a result, easy-to-use
Content Management Systems appeared on the market, and nearly everyone became capable of publishing on the
Web without advanced web design skills. To maintain web site functionality on the millions of badly coded web sites,
browser vendors made their products foolproof and error-tolerant. People began to think that what was beneath the
surface did not matter.
Many people still generate poor quality code web sites through easy-to-use Content Management Systems
without a full understanding of web design principles and best practices. For some it is just a hobby; for others it is
an income source. The importance of web standards should be highlighted by influential companies throughout
the world to make these people understand the associated problems. Web design trends are forced by business and
marketing to achieve popularity or fulfill business requirements. For example, because of the lack of support for
Flash on the Apple iPhone, early HTML5 implementations appeared that applied unfinished specifications but at the
same time expedited standards evolution and application. Everyone interested in web design, whether a professional
or not, should become familiar with web standards, because they are vital in web development and worth learning
(instead of copying bad practices from others).
Without several years experience, no one can understand the options. Which markup language is the most
modern one? It is not possible to answer the question without knowing HTML, XHTML, XML, the Semantic Web, the
maturity levels of web standards, and cutting edge web technologies.
Thanks to HTML5 and CSS3, web standards got more attention since the early 2010s; however, worldwide
adoption is still far away. Manual coding is rare, so Content Management Systems have the potential to help content
authors and web designers comply with web standards based on standard-compliant templates and code blocks.
Some stages of web standardization, such asaccessibility evaluation or error checking, cannot be fully automated (see
Chapter 11). Only web standardistas can manipulate the content and the entire markup and style sheets character by
character, along with all the files of a web site, but not all web designers are such experts in web standards.
Developers often have the logical idea to follow the practices of the most popular and widely used web sites in the
world. However, these web sites cannot serve as references in standardization simply because they often have serious
problems with standard compliance.
It is shocking that the personal web sites of the top web designers in the world also suffer from markup and style
sheet errors. Most of them try to avoid criticism by omitting the W3C conformance icons linking to W3C validators
that would reveal their bad code with a single click.
A good starting point is to find web sites with modern features and standard-compliant code. However, this
can be very difficualt and misleading. Certainly, it is impossible to fulfill all user requirements, but web sites that
focus on standards compliance and are labeled with the logo “Valid XHTML” or “Valid CSS” often come with a lack
of design and exhibit limited use of technologies. Good examples are the web sites of web standardization bodies
or web accessibility designers. Even if the source code is valid and free of errors, the code often has other issues.
Expected components such as news feeds or favorites icons (favicons) are missing, semantic markup is not used, and
so on. These features do not affect the validity of such web documents, which cannot be used exclusively as starting
points for developing modern, standard-compliant web sites. Not only personal web sites and blogs but also precise
technical documents can be presented beautifully. Remember, web standardization is not a sacrifice! Some of the
largest and most popular web sites in the world apply standards successfully while proving the highest level of user
But not all. Take a closer look at a code fragment from one of the largest web sites in the world (Listing 1-2).