Burnt Out on Web Standards
June 10, 2004 at 2:22 PM
Keith writes a well articulated post about why he is Sick of Web Standards. And you know, after reading the post all the way through, I have to agree and I don't think I am alone here. This is by no means saying that web standards are not important or that we should ignore them. No, far from it. I just feel that most of the experts who have spent the last four plus years advocating standards to the masses really have only convinced the involved web community and barely even dented the web industry as a whole. Are you burnt out as well? What kind of other topics would you like to see us cover here? Post your comments.
I think that stories and experiences about making good business website would be interesting. Most web-standard articles is either about "how to hack CSS", "why web standards are important (from a technical perspective)" and "what web standards is". What I think we need now is articles about business use of web-standards. I also think that topics about management in general would be good for many people. I see a lot of examples in the web-standards community that might look cool but seriously lack the basic concepts of business, project or resource management. Web standards are 99% tech speak and 1% business. We need to balance that.
I had thought that maybe MACCAWS was too late to the party, arriving just as Zeldman's DWWS book came out, but perhaps now is the time to revisit their raison d'etre - Making a Commercial Case for Adopting Web Standards. With the emphasis on Commercial maccaws Web site
No offense (especially since it's your site and all) but I would like to see you cover other topics here besides the posts Keith makes on his weblog.
Billy: no offence taken. I typically link to Keith because 1) he's Digital Web Magazine's editor and 2) because he writes about interesting stuff... which is more than I can say for a lot of the sites I read. All: If you find something you think would be interesting for me to link, by all means send me feedback, but don't abuse it. ;)
The only people I talk about web standards are clients and those, who want to learn more and ask about them. Besides other benefits from web standards, I sometimes tell clients that building websites with web standards it is like using ISO standards in business. Just a thought :)
Frank: you may have misunderstood my point. I still think standards are important. The benefits by far outweigh the negatives. However, when I say "burnt out" I mean specifically "hype" (i.e. publishing and reading article after article, blog after blog on web standards)... I am kind of tired of hearing about it... I want to see us move beyond this discussion as everyone I know seems to already understand standards are good. So what's next? Maybe focus more on other topics like IA, UX, usability, accessibility, programming, etc.
Nick: Addressing both web standards and your question, "What kind of other topics would you like to see us cover here": One of the web standards issues that I struggle with in my current position is lack of technology compliance. I was recently the lead designer/coder/IA on a redesign of our site and I created all the templates using XHTML 1.0 Transitional -- it's beautiful: a handful of templates that are simple, logical, hierarchically correct, fast-loading, and easy to maintain. I even did a "Business Benefits of Web Standards" presentation for mangement and they thought it was great (even though it's "behind-the-scenes" kind of stuff). However, our lead developers recently convinced management that all our site applications should be coded in ASP.NET, which is fine except for the fact that the HTML that .NET generates is absolutely horrific (I would say it's not even HTML 3.2 compliant), and the development environment the developers have created is such that those of who would normally clean up their crappy code can't access it anymore. So much for my beautiful templates... Has anyone else encountered this kind of issue, either with .NET or other development tools? Or developers with huge egos who just think the purpose of HTML is simply to make their apps "look pretty"? (a direct quote)
Personally, I have been reading up on web standards for a few months now. That, of course, includes blogs, and I have been following them aplenty. Asterisk, Mezzoblue, SimpleBits, Zeldman's Daily Report ... you name it. The problem I see is that everyone appears to be talking about the same topics over and over again ... the advantages of web standards, ROI, CSS vs Tables ... multiple blogs point to the same article/story on another blog. Well, that's great ... nice little community. Sure. What I want is code, ideas and tips helping me to become standards compliant, how to become standards compliant, not why to become standards compliant. I've heard the preaching plenty of times ... I'm SOLD!! Any post or article that sells standards to me I ignore ... show me how to implement them! Sure, it certainly is good to recap once in a while, but really, it gets quite tedious to read about the "cons and pros" every couple of days. I love A List Apart, among others, for that reason. Those guys get down to the point and show us the techniques and ideas that we, the begginers, can experiment with, perfect and adopt on our road to web standards compliance ... creatively, at that. Thanks to such articles/posts, I started converting my own personal site, which the main reason for existence is to serve as ground for experimentation, and now I am slowly bringing the techinques I am comfortable with to my professional work. Hearing preachers preach does little to further my progress in that regard ... ib.
Has anyone else encountered this kind of issue, either with .NET or other development tools? Or developers with huge egos who just think the purpose of HTML is simply to make their apps "look pretty"? (a direct quote) 8D ib.
ooops ... hah hah ... it appears my post above wasn't standards compliant ... my ears are burning up ... here is another try: Has anyone else encountered this kind of issue, either with .NET or other development tools? Or developers with huge egos who just think the purpose of HTML is simply to make their apps "look pretty"? (a direct quote) Julianne, funny you mention this. I am a .NET developer myself, who has been quite ignorant of web standards in the past, though subconciously I felt the need for them. .NET does a horrible job of standards compliance ... no doubt about it ... this will thankfully change with the upcoming Visual Studio 2005, and new release of the framework, which promises XHTML 1.1 support! Even now, solutions are available for .NET to ensure XHTML compliance ... it's a matter of taking the care to implement them. Personally, I'm considering developing a .NET-centered blog, showing .NET developers how to make their work compliant based on my own personal experiences. Believe me, .NET programmers take pride in their work ... it's just a matter of educating them that what they are doing right now is not the quality work that it could be. 8) For starters, share this link with your .NET crew ... it takes a little work, but it may keep your beautiful templates intact, and tickle their egos to have created something few other .NET developers are sophisticated enough to be aware of ... 8D ib.
What I find missing from the web lately is discussion and examples of new approaches to information architecture. It seems like everyone has turned a blind eye to this topic... even boxes and arrows is barely scratching the surface.
Has anyone else encountered this kind of issue, either with .NET or other development tools? (a direct quote) I too have recently come up against the .NET code and the horror if have the preview function on (tip: code view only people). At the company I work for we now have a system in place where we create the standards complient XHTML / CSS and then drop that in to .NET and code the functionality into it from there. It's working out pretty well until VS 2005 comes out. I agree with Nick's point though. I became standards convert and have brought it to the table at work successfully, but now where to go from here? All of the coders are on board but how do you convey what the benefits are to the sales guys, who in turn tell the clients? Should the clients even be told? Do they care? I think it'll take a long time for a client to understand why their site doesn't look like the creative in the copy of Netscape Gold they use - but if we give the sales forces technical backup and solid reasons to adopt this, it will happen. I'm looking forward to see what MACCAWs can come up with.
I think some of the self appointed advocates have hurt Web standards, with their in your face attitude towards others. The other major problem, designers that came from print. They can't seem to get past pixel perfect design at all cost. These people will do anything it takes to implement their design. In the end there is no such thing as pixel perfect design for the web. Standards are not that hard to implement. All you need is a good understanding of how design, coding, and browsers work together as a whole. Yes, we have to deal with IE, but once you have learned the bugs and quirks of the different versions, you can work around them. If you have been practicing Web standards, they should become second nature, after a learning period. There should be no need to even think about them as you design/code a Web site.
Gary: I agree, however it's not as simple as it sounds. There are several factors that determine if a developer will build to web standards, one of those factors is simply laziness, another factor is dependency on tools that produce non-standard code, and lastly is the issue that some software isn't picky enough about standard compliance to let the author know they have an error... you only see this with XML apps as far as I know. Shawn: That's a bit harder than you make it out to be. Every site is different, what works perfectly well in one site may be totally off base for another site. There are also factors of companies no allowing their developers to write about any of the stuff they have done... non-disclosures and those kinds of issues. Lastly, there is the time factor. Most IAs I know are busy working and don't have the time to contribute articles... I am surprised B&A can publish as often as they do. No matter how many calls for articles we post, we never have enough articles coming in.... and it seems every time we do post a call for articles, 90% of them are unusable (i.e. totally off topic, poorly written, trying to pitch a product, etc.) It's not easy being a independent publication. Ireney: What you are asking for is "show me the code" which is a good thing to do but a hard thing to really pull off in practice. I am sure if we wanted to switch from 1 to 2 articles a week and change our schedule to being only 1 article a month we could probably "show you the code" ....I guess what I am saying is it's really hard to show you the code, it take a lot more research, testing, re-testing, revising and so forth to even have some code in an article. Go check out those great ALA articles and read the comments on them on the ALA site you will see that often the article's author made some error in the code and everyone start to jump up and down screaming and pointing about one little error. That's not what I want Digital Web Magazine to be about. Too many books do a better job at showing the code than articles could ever do. I suggest you re-think your approach to learning this stuff and pick up a book by Eric Meyer, Molly Holzschlag or Jeffrey Zeldman. It will be much more efficient for you to read those books than to wait for an article to come out that shows you the ins and outs of web standards. We will try to talk about the "basics" of designing with web standards and what makes a good web design, but I can not promise you that we will always be able to show you code, because as I said before, every site is different, every problem involves different kinds of code, different architecture, and so forth.