Tokyo PC Users Group • 12 May 2005
They're Not Just For Purists Any More
Eric A. Meyer
Complex Spiral Consulting
Using Web standards means no proprietary lock-in and a wider support base
The browser market is actually shifting again; the new entrants are standards-savvy
Page weights can be reduced by at least half, sometimes by even more
Reduced page weight means faster sites and lower expenses
Multimedium support and accessibility are much simpler
They're 99% the same, really, so it's a 2-for-1 deal
What about search engines?
Standards don't hurt, and can help in small ways
Who's Using Standards?
A sampling of a few small organizations...
, ABC News
, Disney Store UK
, Sprint / Sprint PCS
, Kansas City Chiefs
, Amnesty International
, Los Alamos National Laboratory
, and many more...
In addition, there are countless personal sites, academic sites, government organizations, etc., etc.
Bottom line: any site that's interested in improving user experience and reducing maintenance costs should seriously consider using Web standards
Aren't All CSS Sites Boring?
This is an old stereotype that has no validity (along with "all CSS sites look the same")
Early CSS-driven sites (mine included) were often boxy and plain, but that was due to the site designers,
Canvas and paint gave us Bob Ross...
and also Dali, Mondrian, Monet, Picasso, Pollock, Seurat, van Gogh...
Think back to the list of sites on the previous slide: are they all boring, or look the same?
And then there's the
CSS Zen Garden
What About Incompatibilities?
Some problems do exist, but they're far less of a problem than they were, say, three years ago
The biggest stumbling block is frankly Internet Explorer, but it's only biggest by comparison
Various approaches (e.g. "transitional design") have emerged to help bridge the gap between browser perdition and standards utopia
Sites can realize 90% of the benefits of Web standards while still maintaining consistent appearance
How Do Standards Help My Users?
Honestly, it's all about the page weight
Users don't care about your markup or how much CSS you use; they
care about how long they have to wait for a page to load
The #1 factor in page response time is the raw number of bytes shipped over the wire
Cutting page weight by 50% means the page takes about half as long to load (on average)
Reduced server load helps, and reduced bandwidth consumption can mean real savings for large sites
Using the Windows Performance application, we can actually see how pages do
Tests were run on variants of a typical "portal"-type page
56Kb dialup connection used for testing
Cache completely cleared before each test; page loaded and then re-loaded to compare uncached with cached performance
Profile: Initial Page
Profile: Whitespace Stripped
Profile: Simplified Structure
Profile: Non-Table Layout
How Do Standards Help Me?
It's all about the (lack of) page complexity
lighter your markup
, the less you have to worry about breakage when you edit it
Content is much easier to find as well
Design updates are much, much simpler
Presentation is centralized, so a few files control the whole thing
Design prototyping can be much faster
Complete ground-up rebuild and redesign in committee in two months? Yes!
Are Standards Always Appropriate?
In theoretical terms, absolutely!
More practically, it depends on your particular situation
weigh costs against benefits
Look at your user logs!
Remember that current site behavior may skew your logs
Aggregate browser-share statistics are worse than useless: they can be deeply misleading
Support matrices can be highly useful
Often divided into full exp. / minimal exp. / raw content / upgrade page
Where Can I Find Out More?
The Web Standards Project (
World Wide Web Consortium (
Buy standards compliant Web sites
Web standards deliver a multitude of benefits
The stronger and leaner your structure, the better for all your visitors
Accessibility and multimedium support are much easier with Web standards
Reduced maintenance and redesign costs provide extra long-term benefits
Ancient browsers need not be completely frozen out
The trend is definitely in the direction of standards, and away from browser-centric development
It just makes sense
As if all that weren't enough, you can also use standards-oriented design to rapidly develop design prototypes
Wireframes, thematic variants, "live" Web behavior — all possible with a single development environment
Redesign time can be dramatically shortened
Browser workarounds come at the end
Let's see a live example!
It's been a pleasure. I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.