HTML and CSS Reference
Introduction to Web Standards
Technical standards are widely used in various fields of life—think of the standards of paper size and the standard
envelopes that fit them, or AC power plugs and their corresponding sockets. Web standards , similar to other
standards, are normative specifications of technologies and methodologies. In other words, they are well-defined
sets of requirements to be satisfied. They are not only ideal from the technical point of view but also represent
user needs. However, web standards are often ignored; the World Wide Web consists of billions of documents that
do not consider proper restrictions or regulations, deproving user experience. This is because the Web is a “free
forum” where everyone can publish pretty much anything without technical skills, content review, or censorship.
Unfortunately, this approach comes at a price: you will often encounter sites that download really slow, collapse in
the browser, or have poor functionality. In spite of the benefits of standard compliance, not only content authors
but also web developers find it challenging to implement web standards, mainly due to the lack of widespread
distribution. Even the most popular web sites can be very confusing, and in contrast to the common misconception,
developers cannot use them as references to learn from. Moreover, web designers often ignore standards because of
the misbelief that developing with standards means an additional workload. Due to their limited knowledge on web
standards, web designers are often not familiar with the benefits of standards compliance and the best practices of
standards-based web design.
In this chapter, you will learn about the significance of web standards and the reliable resources you should
know in order to make the best use of web standards in your web applications. This chapter sets out the major
benefits of web standards. It will also give you a solid understanding of the diversity and status of standards. After
reading the chapter, you will be able to recognize finalized specifications and select the most appropriate ones for
The Basic Concepts
Web standards are applicable to the World Wide Web (for short, the Web). These formal standards define and describe
various aspects of the Web. According to the Web Standards Project, a major standards promoter, “Web standards are
carefully designed to deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of web users while ensuring the long-term
viability of any document published on the Web. Designing and building with these standards simplifies and lowers
the cost of production, while delivering sites that are accessible to more people and more types of Internet devices.
Sites developed along these lines will continue to function correctly as traditional desktop browsers evolve, and as
new Internet devices come to market” .
Web standards are often de facto (in practice) standards. Since there is no law that enforces them, web standards are
ignored by a large share of web developers. The Recommendations published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),
the largest web standardization body in the world, are not exceptions either. However, in November 2010, W3C made a
big step forward when it became an ISO/IEC JTC 1 PAS Submitter because any stable core web technologies produced by
W3C are also in the scope of the International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO and the International Electrotechnical
Commission (IEC) can efficiently contribute to the wider, and, if possible, global, adoption of W3C standards by changing
the status of de facto standards to de jure (in principle) .