Web Standards: Where the ROI isDec 5, 2008 In Web Culture By Molly Holzschlag
Editor's Note: Web designers and developers seem to talk a lot about "Web Standards", but what about the people who sign the contracts and pay the bills? Are Web Standards just another tax that businesspeople are being asked to pay, or is there truly sustainable business value in adopting Web Standards? Why is Microsoft investing so heavily in improving Web Standards support in our line of products. We asked Molly to write this article to succinctly explain the business value of Web Standards to business decision makers
The Web Standards movement is now in its 10th year. The goal of this world wide movement, which we see manifest in such organizations as the Web Standards Project (WaSP), Web Standards Group (WSG); a slew of specialized conferences and workshops is to unify professional best practices for the Web in order to establish a truly interoperable platform.
Whether you’re on your Vista machine or a Mac, using your iPhone or PDA should be irrelevant when it comes to the user experience. This is a prime initiative of the movement, and has its roots in the vision of the Web as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, its creator, saw it.
Okay, you think, great. This is a technology issue more than a financial one per se. But with ten years of observation under our belts, those of us within the movement can clearly define the savings, return on investment, and value of using Web standards when creating Web sites and applications. This article will help readers,particularly those interested in better business and technology practices,gain an understanding of where the ROI is when it comes to Web Standards.
- Future-Proof Your Investment. The Web is a truly universal platform, and will continue to be supported and maintained long after other platforms have fallen by the wayside. New systems in the future will use the Web as the foundation. When you build using established Web standards, you are using those parts of the web most likely to survive and thrive in the future. You can be sure that your creation will continue to be supported by multiple vendors and devices far into the future. Building on Web standards now protects your investment in the present and continue to reap dividends in the future.
- More Efficient Management. Designing across browsers and managing documents efficiently has been the bane of the Web designer/developers existence. Following standards and practices allows for the creation of a workflow that saves not only time, but wear and tear on Web designers and developers working with these difficult challenges. Using a Web standards workflow, time, money and the quality of life for the most valuable of resources: the people on your teams can help improve this ongoing challenge in the standards environment.
- Universal Access. Whether designing for a PDA or a visually-impaired individual, the concept of Universal Access (which includes numerous modalities such as phones, print, web site all coming from the same document as well as access for those with specific disabilities) is far more easily achieved using the techniques advocated by Web standards, making a document significantly more style-able and scriptable for those multiple reasons.
- Scalability. As sites grow, and they have a tendency to do so, a great deal of effort can be saved by having an existing standards workflow and corporate/organizational design guide. This empowers people to scale, refresh and even redesign sites with greater ease than in non-standard design, in which each page “carries” its design with it rather than being controlled by external style sheets. By separating document, presentation and interaction behavior on the technical side, a very significant amount of time, money and frustration can be avoided as a site grows.
- Improved User Experience. The lighter-weight files associated with standards-based design mean an improved experience for the user. In order to be effective, sites have to be easy to use and allow the user to get to their goal quickly. A clean infrastructure and the smaller files typically resulting from a Web standards workflow can have a significant impact on the load time and responsiveness of a site, keeping your users happy customers.
These are the key business reasons that Web standards and practices are essential in today’s professional Web building. We have process and standardization in almost every other area of computing, but the Web is truly a new frontier. It’s the savvy Web pioneers who build strong foundations for future bounty and success.