Web Standards – who woulda thought?

I have always wanted to be able to throw together a really cool looking web page or site. But to be honest the the more that I have learnt about coding html the more confused I have become. Part of the problem is that I am impatient and want the final result to be there immediately. Unless I want to settle for really crap looking pages (which I don’t) then I have to learn the detail.

One of the things that has bugged me for years has been looking at the source code of other designers with really nice looking sites, only to find an absolute mess of tags all through it. I remember trying to layout a webpage so that the content sat in the middle inside a box shape of some sort, and being thrilled about discovering that I could use a ‘table’ to control where stuff landed.

There was another part of me though that thought that was cheating a bit. I mean a table was for putting data in right? Of course I then discovered that even though my table created a page that looked ok in one browser when I looked at it in a different one I was appalled. It looked nothing like I had built it.

Well times have changed, and it is time that I caught up. The thing that was bugging me was that I wanted my words to stay in their own context (ie not in a table) while being able to apply formatting with fixed styles. I could do this in MS Word but nothing seemed to do what I wanted. This separation of content from display formatting is now built into the latest web standards. I have been reading a book about them by Jeffrey Zeldman. It is interesting what a small core community there is in standards land. Many of the google / blogger / a-list-apart folk all are linked to the promotion and development of these (not so new now) standards.

DECREE: I Will strive to make every webpage that I code compliant with web standards.

Surprisingly this is easier for me now even though the coding is much stricter because the standards enforce the separation that I was looking for. Content is content, Design is design. The two should be able to work together without having to be dependent on each other. This is what web standards brings to the game.

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