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Web Site Design W3C Compliance

Since the dawn of the Internet, web sites have been written in a code called HTML. With no standard form and no regulation, browsers of a bygone era (such as early Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator) introduced code elements specific to their own browsers. These were generally not compatible with different browsers and caused developers many hours of headaches trying to get their web sites to display properly on all systems. At the time is was not just difficult, but often impossible.


The whole Internet became a tangled mess of uncompatible code (known to developers as Tag Soup). This would cause later browsers a huge amount of processing to interpret the errors and garbled nature of the code. In general only a handful of newer browsers have error handling capable of displaying Tag Soup. And crucially, this functionality is set to be removed from later browsers (and already some browsers ie. hand held devices, internet telephones. etc). So invalid code may eventually not work at all.


The solution was devised by Tim Berners Lee. This is the very same man who invented the Internet, and then watched with dismay as the Tag Soup was poured over the world. Lee decided to form the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), where member organisations maintain a full time staff devoted to the development of Internet standards.


These standards mean that ALL target browsers can interpret the code in the exact same way, and eventually all uncompatible and depreciated code will be removed from the internet in this way.


The only people still adding Tag Soup to the internet are people creating their own web sites, and amateur and unprofessional web developers. You might argue that if 9 out of 10 people appear to have no problems with the site then there is no problem. But then that 1 last person was probably the one who was going to become a customer.

Web Site Design A New Era

Recommended Standards are the only way to ensure a web site will display on all current and particularly on future browsers and user agents (PDAs, internet phones, games consoles). Once a site is validated, you know the code is compatible and will work. Using compliant code is the best and most surefire way to prevent accessibility problems right fron the start. It also means that search engines such as Google will be able to index your site properly instead of becoming lost and banishing you to page 38 of the search results.


The current standards are as follows:

  • HTML - HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language of the web. HTML is a set of tags that are used to define the content, layout and the formatting of the web document. Web browsers use the HTML tags to define how to display the text. HTML has now been superseded by XHTML and will eventually be depreciated code.
    • HTML 4.01 Transitional - HTML recomendation published by the W3C in 1999. Contains depreciated code in order to assist the transition to XHTML, hence the name. Is not generally used by professionals.
    • HTML 4.01 Strict - Published alongside the Transitional with a strict syntax which eliminates most depreciated code.
  • XHTML - (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) HTML reformulated as XML. XHTML is the latest version of HTML. Developed by W3C it provides future compatibility with XML databases and removes depreciated script.
    • XHTML 1.0 - W3C Recommendation 26 January 2000
    • XHTML 1.1 - W3C Recommendation 31 May 2001. All deprecated features of HTML have now been removed.

More recent recommendations have better support for features like accessability and integration with other technologies.

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