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Corporate Web Standards : Comments

By Scott Gledhill

July 16, 2007


Mike Holloway

July 17, 2007 1:20 AM

Awesom article, I can totally relate to some of the comments you’ve made.

Keith Donegan

July 17, 2007 2:56 AM

Excellent article. I too was one who thought that corporate companies were a bit too lazy in perfecting their code, but you have given me a lot to think about regarding these types of sites,


Todd Garland

July 17, 2007 5:49 AM

Nice article Scott, I enjoyed the read. I just finished up a long project where I actually brought (with some internal help) an archaic site back from the dead. They had great content, but crappy design and were without a standards evangelist. Through the help of a great internal team, we were able to convince corporate that standards is the way to go.

John Barbagallo

July 17, 2007 6:59 AM

Awesome article.

Was smiling throughout, since I can relate to so much of what you talked about….haha!

Dimitry Z.

July 17, 2007 7:18 AM

Great article. Refreshing topic and to the point. I can relate.

Perhaps this could be a first is a series of Large-Scale Site Development articles… :) You cover many points (abstraction, structure, collaboration and standardization) that are often discussed for small sites, but rarely for sites of 10000+ pages and/or 1+ M. visitors.

Nate Klaiber

July 17, 2007 7:53 AM

Seems as though you were peeking over my shoulder at my previous job, and knew the thoughts that were running through my head. I can relate to so many of the things you mentioned in your article.

Thanks for covering this so thoroughly.

Tammy Christensen

July 17, 2007 11:38 AM

Great article. We are in that “horribly familiar” boat but are working towards a better world.

Matt Robin

July 17, 2007 5:36 PM

There are good articles on the Web, and then, every now and again, there are brilliant articles…this is the latter. As Dimitry Z also remarks – there’s scope with this article for far more on the topic (and this would be a good starting point). I’ll comment further on my site about this article too – great write-up Scott.

Scott Gledhill

July 18, 2007 3:50 AM

Thanks everyone for the great feedback.

I definitely think there is scope to break each of these points into a series of articles. As mentioned above, how you deal with each of these issues in a large corporation is so much more different than on the smaller sites. I could go on forever on this topic :-)

Andrew Maben

July 18, 2007 8:33 AM

Spot on! Thanks for this. Particularly important, I think, is your suggestion that validation is expendable (at least to a degree). To my mind accessibility is the grail. While it’s nice to attain both, accessibility doesn’t result in validity, and validity doesn’t guarantee accessibility.


July 19, 2007 9:53 AM

Great article, but it’s not just for corporate developers.

I’ve never worked in a corporate environment and only have a team of three, namely, me, myself, and I. And, I handle everything from html, css, javascript, ajax, php and mysql. I’m a one man band, or circus depending upon your view.

While I have no problems mixing and matching languages to make just about anything work, my biggest problem is trying to present an optimum (with regard to web standards, accessibility, and SEO considerations) template to a client.

While the design can be change to anything they want, they inevitably ask for something that can’t be done — like wanting a string that’s too long for the space provided, but not willing to reduce the the number of characters or text size to make it fit (very commonly found in menus).

So, my pretty template starts to change and with it reductions in optimization. It’s sad to watch functionality/accessibility “for all” reduced because the client doesn’t know any better.

Of course, you can try to educate the client, but often their perceived needs win-out over their best interest. In the end, you can only do so much and realize that it’s too much a complex set of issues for the typical client to grasp. Besides, their kids were taught HTML in high school, “So how hard could it be?” as I had one client tell me.

I wish I could say, “Here’s the answer”, but unfortunately there’s none to be found. All you can do is try to guide clients down a path and watch-out when they want to leave it for parts unknown.


July 19, 2007 10:53 AM

Nice topic Scott. I work for a Fortune 500 company that fits the bill. I particularly enjoyed your section “Finding Your Way Out of the Forest”. It gives us a shred of hope despite not being able to make all the changes we want.


July 20, 2007 8:03 AM

The sales and marketing teams in your company do not feel a general need to make the web a better place, they just want to make money from your websites.

Sometimes its not even a standards issues, its the fact they want no white space at all.

Scott Gledhill

July 20, 2007 5:56 PM

Advertising is a huge issue with developers and designers to deal with everyday. I actually don’t think anyone likes them, except for the sales guys who get the commissions.

They are a necessary evil I realize, but I find the communication barriers between these groups often cause us to be stuck in this really limiting ‘banner ads only’ kind of style of advertising.

There is so much more we can do with online marketing and sales apart from the usual banner ads and pop up windows, but I think there has to be a bit of a cultural shift in some companies to really allow this to happen.

Ryan Lin

July 22, 2007 4:46 AM

Great article. Yet, in Singapore, Web Standards is till considered a taboo for a lot of web designers/developers who have been using tables layout and non-standards markups all along. Most of them are hesitate to learn something new.

So basically, when a Web Standards evangelist is hired, all the eyeballs are on him or her. And it becomes sort of a cold-war between standards guy and those who do not wish to follow.

Ryan Bickett

July 24, 2007 11:50 AM

Great article. I manage all of the Internet marketing activities for the company I work for. This includes the management of our corporate website. Last year, we completed a website redesign where I had been pushing to implement standards on the new design. Unfortunately, the agency we worked with was not a huge believer in web standards. I lost the battle. In hindsight, I should have done some more due diligence when going through the proposal process, but time was not on our side in this instance. We were rushed into the project and pushed to have the site completed in a few short months. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this article and it gave me some needed amo for the next redesign we undertake. Thanks!


July 26, 2007 7:51 PM

Down. To. The. Point.
Problem stated, then – solution presented. Clear and true.

I’m going to forward the link to some of my co-workers. I’ve been fighting this fight for the past 1.5 years and, slowly, I’m winning.

Hats off to all those who are on the same war-path.


August 5, 2007 11:10 PM

Isn’t “Using lots of JavaScript with accessibility and search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind.” a contridiction of enormous proportions?

I mean, JS is NOT read by search-engines and is a major concern regarding accessibility.

No brale-reader i’ve ever met understands JS.

Scott Gledhill

August 6, 2007 5:16 AM

@Mikkel – the point of that statement was to say we used JavaScript correctly and unobtrusively to allow for maximum accessibility and SEO gains.

No inline event handlers and no inline scripts preventing spiders or screen readers from reading the document as they had been developed in the past.

All aspects of progressive enhancement in development of our sites was established as the baseline for development of future projects.

Matt Robin

August 7, 2007 6:44 PM

Scott: As I said – an additional comment from me is now posted on my own site too: Now we have corporate web standards

Chris Boswell (Leeds UK)

August 13, 2007 10:08 AM

What a terrific article! Absolutely rings true. And the industry does appear to be improving where corporate web design standards awareness is concerned. A few years ago, I felt like I was banging my head against the wall convincing companies of any size that web standards and website accessibility were important. These days they often come equipped with this knowledge, and the sticking point is persuading them that consistency and continual improvement programmes are the way to achieve future-proof standards compliant websites.
My heart also went out to you when you mentioned significant changes to project scope too late in the day – I’ve learnt at my own expense to always write such tolerances into the project documentation when you have the luxury of time during the project planning stage, then the responsibility falls back on the stakeholders if they want changes that are out of scope. This proved a costly mistake for me to make when I started out as a business-to-business web design and development provider.

Scott Gledhill

August 14, 2007 9:27 PM

@Matt – thanks for the good words

@Chris – I agree now that there is a certain baseline standards knowledge I expect for many companies. I am just at the stage in my career I couldn’t start from scratch anymore :-)

I also feel that stakeholders being responsible for their actions / impact on a project has a far way to go as well. Although I find when it’s the guys that pay your wage that tend to be causing the problems, you don’t get as far!

Adaptiv Media

January 26, 2008 10:41 AM

As someone who is going to be launching an online web agency in the not too distant future, the concepts brought about by this article are very enlightening for myself. I aspire to be creating successful websites for larger clients some time down the line. I’d find these kind of techniques very useful with small-scale projects too.. I mean, if you can create high quality websites in a shorter amount of time based on what i would call semi-templates, you are not only maximising profitability, whatever the scale of the project by being able to take on more projects at any point in time but also maintaining your very high design standard. Very professional idea which I cannot wait to implement.

Jason King

October 5, 2008 5:49 PM

Really useful article, I’m going to show it to my boss so they can understand some of my frustrations!

When I started work at a large (1,000 employee) nonprofit they already had a website and Intranet.

The design was clumsy and the colours off-putting. The CSS was bloated and of variable quality, the HTML was sort of semantic, and I found 1,400 html validation errors on a single page.

The sites were built around a proprietary IBM web content management system with complex, confusing templates. Training would cost the earth so I tried to figure it out myself.

I really wish I’d been able to start completely from scratch. It took a year before I finally got all the website’s pages to validate. The home and other important landing pages have all had to be redesigned to a lesser or greater extent.

Progress can be slow because design decisions have to be approved by managers who are fairly conservative; because too much change too fast will confuse Intranet users; because the CMS limitations have to be overcome.

I absolutely agree with your point about picking your battles. You can’t win every argument and sometimes have to accept that corporate or software restrictions will prevent you from implementing your ideal website. Sometimes, you just have to give up and move on.

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