Not all guidelines are meant to be restrictive. Quality standards, the guidelines for web development, are meant to establish a semblance of uniformity in all web services delivered.

Issued by W3C, Quality Standards stipulate the various parameters any web development service/product must match up to, to be considered up-to-the-mark The Internet today is a beehive of all sorts of web services. Some are good, some are top-of-the-line, and some are a waste of time.

Quality standards aim to eliminate this discrepancy by promoting researched standards so that all web products and services are user-friendly and make good sense to invest in.

The need for standards

Web designers and developers are humans, which means their work reflects their viewpoints to varying extents. These viewpoints can be broadly classified under:

  • Scripting of Websites

Using XHTML standards

XHTML is an extension of HTML that is cleaner and leaner. It allows websites to be viewed on various devices (mobile phones etc.) which was not easy with HTML.

Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standards

Websites have varying degrees of complexity in their underlying codes. With HTML <font> tag, re-writing or changing the content of the website becomes tedious as it involves extensive re-configuration of the existing code.

To overcome this, W3C Quality Standards stipulate the use of CSS standards. It is a potent way of separating the style of a webpage from its content. In doing so, it enables very easy re- configuration of the page’s content.

Using CSS greatly improves the browser compatibility of a website and also improves its readability, while the lesser development time involved cuts development costs.

  • Readability of websites

Text used in website content varies widely in terms of font size, color, font style(bold, italic), character/line spacing etc. Thus, the same block of text :

“Einstein had bad grades in school.”

can be written as :

Einstein had bad grades in school. or Einstein had bad grades in school.

Reading both the types requires concentrated effort. This hampers easy readability of websites.

Thus, Quality standards decree the use of easier text representation (font, color contrast, spacing etc.) for maximum readability.

  • Website Accessibility

The spectrum of Internet users ranges from the top-end users with the latest technologies at their disposal, to the other end of users with the bare minimum required for browsing.

Clearly, websites designed to hog system resources are viewed best only on high-end systems. Such websites deny accessibility to the rest of the users, which in a way harms the website owners themselves as they lose out on the bulk of the potential visitors.

Quality Standards save the day here by stipulating user-friendly web development guidelines that maximize the website’s accessibility. The more the visitors, the better the business opportunities.

  • Internationalization of Websites

Most modern browsers use the internationally accepted Unicode (UTF-8, UTF-16 etc.) character set. However, not all documents transmitted over the Internet conform to the standards of this set owing to the uniqueness of language scripts used. This results in a discrepancy among the browser being used and the text to be displayed on-screen.

Quality standards thus recommend the labeling of each document used with the character set in use for easier identification and representation.

Also, other commonly experienced discrepancies like which format to use while writing dates is taken care of by W3C guidelines. Thus, the accepted date format is yyyy-mm-dd. (letters with their usual meanings).

Eg. : 04-05-1984 could either mean 4th May 1984 or April 5th 1984.

But with the use of quality standards, 1984-05-04 can only mean May 4th, 1984

Although not exhaustive, this brief overview of the prevailing quality standards in web development is an endeavor to give you a better understanding of the guidelines we, at Vinove, while designing web sites for our clients.