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Designing with Web Standards

I am not a strong graphical developer or designer, more a stylist, but the adoption of W3C and accessibility standards has meant the act of web creation has become a more streamlined and fluid affair since I can concentrate more on the aesthetic aspect of delivering knowing that the underlying structural framework will be as sound as my current understanding of what is technically achievable. In other words, I can reverberate within a structured framework which has now become almost a gut feeling for what will work, allowing greater focus on the aesthetic aspects of development without compromising the process though structures which fail halfway through the build due to a poor technical understanding of the implementation. Web Design Minneapolis Promotions provides quality web design using certain web design principles we hold in high regard. 

Absolute Summit

It was Summit Ghimire with Absolute Summit and his CSS who got me thinking about standards last September. I eventually got around to submitting my own conceptual design in February, So Long… It’s not spectacular by any means but it was the focus I needed, the kick in the right direction toward stronger development.

Structured Markup

Having tucked a fair bit of CSS under my belt, I looked to the next stage: structured markup. All my current sites are now written to XHTML 1 specification. I visited the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and came away wondering What the hell that was all about. Yet these guys are the standards backbone of the Internet and, as such, they can’t be expected to be literary masters. The delivery is dry as a bone and as illuminating as a dead glow worm — but they know their stuff. And buried away within the site are the dry, brittle leaves of the tree of knowledge. Unfortunately, you need to be a bloody Vulcan to understand what they’re saying.

Markup Validation

And that’s because it is purely a reference work and you need to look elsewhere to see how these development standards are implemented in the real world of website design and return when you need clarification of a point of implementation, syntax, semantics or SEO principles. But they do offer a handy service: their markup validator. Bung in the URL for your site or upload from your desktop and it’ll run through it and deliver a compliance report. Great, my first upgrade to XHTML from HTML 4 fell apart like a disaster movie. At least I was the only one injured … well … my pride. (Here’s their CSS validator.)

But I persevered and realized that most of the errors were easily corrected with a closing forward slash and those I couldn’t fathom were elaborated upon with a link reference (again as dry as a bone but it gives a nudge in the right Google direction). Within a couple of days, I had a valid XHTML 1.1 site. The fact that the design was still piss poor didn’t matter, that’s just the flesh on the skeletal structure which I could attend to later.

Separating Presentation from Content

So I had a site built with valid markup and a CSS file which helped separate presentation from contentAnd that is the key to web development. Your page markup contains all the content and nothing more. All the stuff that says it should look like this and work like that (font size, color, weight; drop-down menu DOM access JavaScript code) should be held in external support files which are referenced by the markup.


And finally … accessibility … making a site accessible to as great an audience as possible who use a variety of connection speeds and a whole universe of browsers, and who may be physically or cerebrally challenged. The Guild of Accessible Web Designers is a great place to enter the world of accessibility. That’s a whole other melting pot. But I’m getting there slowly.

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