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Web Coding Recommendations

Universal Web Development Standards

The future of web development is based on W3C standards, namely XHTML and cascading style sheets (CSS). The purpose of these standards is to facilitate web development while making the web a more usable and accessible medium. XHTML and CSS achieve this through separation of presentation (look, appearance, colors, fonts, layout) and structure (content, headings, paragraphs).

With this in mind, it is recommended that web developers migrate their sites to comply with W3C standards. This includes XHTML 1.0 for document structure and CSS 2.0 for both visual style and content positioning. This strategy is recommended since the percentage of the target audience using standards-compliant browsers is increasing.

For further information about universal web development standards, check these resources:

Tips for Building W3C-Compliant Websites

Advantages to Complying with Web Design Standards

  • Your website is widely accessible to people across a wide range of computers and browsers.
  • Compliant sites rank better in search engines.
  • Changes in technology, such as new versions of browsers, are less likely to affect the way your website is displayed.
  • The design of your website will look similar in different browsers and computers.

Keep It Simple

The more complex your HTML markup and CSS is, the more there is to go wrong. Keep your layout simple: a header, a couple of side-by-side columns, and a footer.

Write Your Pages to Provide Access to a Broad Range of Users

When coding your webpages, keep in mind that viewers will be using a variety of browsers and devices to view your pages. Whenever possible, code your pages so that people using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Opera on PCs, Macs, cell phones, or tablets will be able to access the information they need. While it is impractical to code your website so that every version of every browser will render the pages the same way, it is important that your site be readable by most current browsers.

Test Your Website in as Many Browsers as Possible

When designing a website, you can never be sure how it will appear to all users. Your website may look good in your browser, but different in other browsers. This is because people use different browsers, different screen resolutions, and different computers and Internet connection speeds. This is why you should test the usability of your site in different browsers. Browsershots is a free online web application that provides a convenient way for you to test your website’s browser compatibility by making screenshots of your web design in different operating systems and browsers.

Validate Your Pages

Use a code validator on your webpages to test their compliance with HTML specifications. Validating your code will ensure that the page displays correctly in current browsers and is one of the easiest ways to be sure they will display in future browsers. The W3C HTML Validator and CSS Validator are good places to start. You can also use a browser plug-in, such as the HTML Validator Firefox Add-on.

Keep the File Sizes of Images as Small as Is Practical

Images with smaller file sizes will load more quickly on all kinds of devices. First select the correct file format (.GIF, .JPG, .PNG), then make use of the many applications available, such as the free GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) or commercially available programs, to compress images.

Check Links Regularly

Broken links can frustrate viewers and reduce the credibility of the information on your site. Use a link-checking program such as Xenu’s Link Sleuth to find broken links on your site. While you are checking links, remember to check and double-check your site for spelling and grammatical errors, and make sure your images are viewable.