The majority of the Internet users should have heard about the World Wide Web Consortium or better known as W3C.
The W3C is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (W3). It is arranged as a consortium where member organizations maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the W3.
The W3C is the internet’s daddy. They created HTML, CSS, and dozens of other specifications that govern the use of the technologies that makes the internet thrive today. Valid code is code which meets their guidelines, and can be tested in a validator, such as the HTML and CSS ones.
I don’t want to discuss if using valid code should be used in a blog or if it is actually helpful for a blog. To be honest, I had it in mind, but somehow ProBlogDesign.com beat me to it, which is actually helpful because I can skip this part 😉
To sum Michael Martin’s article up I dare to say that it is useful to use valid code, or better: Web Standards, in a blog.
His reasons are all great, but I have to add one more reason why you should use Web Standards: chances are higher that your blog is accessible by all humans, especially those with disabilities.
Less known among the Internet users is the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the W3C. Although some webmaster and „webcoder“ know and follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) put together by the staff of the WAI there are way more webmaster / „webcoder“ who are not following these guidelines.
I’m aware that these guidelines are not a must have for a website, however I try to write templates and websites following the WCAG as closely as possible. I’m not perfect on this part and I know that my blog template still needs to adjusted to follow the WCAG, but I’m working on it and I’m using one of the many WAI validators.
So, why I am talking about the whole accessibility thing?
As you know, there are many different browsers out there. Most of them showing the nice designed content of your website, however, there are text-only browsers like Lynx. These users won’t be able to appreciate your nice layout, but they are able to either enjoy your website or just ignore it because of it’s structure. Have a look at your website without the usage of images and CSS, does the „layout“ show up in an order which allows you to easily navigate through your page? If not, I’d guess that text-only browser user will ignore your website.
I’m aware of the fact that text-only browser users are a minority, on most page statistics they won’t even show up, but do you really want to loose the few percent of possible customers?
Aside the text-only browser users there is a minority which most people tend to ignore if not forget. I believe it is really sad and of course wrong.
I’m talking about people with a disability. Yes, believe me or not, there are people browsing the Internet who are suffering from blindness or they are deaf or they have epilepsy…I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
It doesn’t require much additional time to make your template more friendly for this target group. For instance, you can avoid using animated gifs so a visitor with epilepsy can enjoy your website. Also, you can avoid the excessive usage of Flash. I know, there are people who would like to lynch me, but be honest. Can you easily navigate through a flash animation without the usage of a mouse? Not really, additionally the animation could prevent the visitor with epilepsy to visit your website at all. Last but not least, (I’m pretty sure that I missed many examples) are the people with some kind of color blindness, like the Red-Green-Blindness. If you use a red-green template you should make sure that either the colors are ok for people with red-green blindness or that you have at least an alternate design available.
Everything I mentioned here is my personal opinion. I know that it can be difficult to maintain a accessibility friendly website and I’m also aware that many major websites like Amazon or Microsoft are not accessibility friendly, but maybe you can make a change.
Whenever I discuss this topic with other people, I hear many excuses for not following the WAI. In return, I always have a solid argument against the excuse.
Bad vs. Good – The Accessibility Discussion
- It will take more time to finish my site!
Not really, if you follow the WCAG right from the beginning, you will be done at the same time as you would without following it.
- It will make the page more ugly.
Sorry, but you are wrong here. Actually even the average visitor can benefit from the accessibility optimized website because of the clearer navigation and so on…
- Those disabled don’t have to visit my site and/or shouldn’t use the Internet.
Ignoring the fact that this is really racist, you should keep in mind that one day you could also suffer from some kind of disability. Of course, it is up
- Major websites like Amazon or Microsoft are not following the WCAG either, so why bothering?
True, but you know you could make a change? Just because „famous“ websites are not following the WCAG doesn’t mean your website wouldn’t help to spread the word and encourage other people to optimize their own websites.
Of course at the end it is your own decision if you try to follow the guidelines or not. I myself will continue to optimize my website(s) into this direction.
What about you?