Web Standards proposal – help needed

I’m looking for articles, statistics and any other relevant information that can help me argue a case for the implementation of Web Standards in my company. I don’t have much time to prepare my proposal (like, tomorrow) that’s why I’m asking around.

The main problem is that Web Standards aren’t really that important if your job is about making a website look attractive to a target group. You can be good at coding pages but who will know (unless you create some massive JavaScript problem that prompts a popup/security alert)?

The truth is, bosses don’t read code and it’s not one of our key performance indicators (KPI). If the page loads, the page loads. Saving a few KB of space per page means little to them. Only you (and God) will know the extra effort you put in. Meanwhile, everyone else around you who doesn’t bother doing it, has more time to complete other work.

The power of stylesheets has also been eroded by another technology – the Content Management System. Most big organisations already have a CMS, so why utilise stylesheets to their full potential when everything’s in a template already? The CMS takes away some of the controlling elements that stylesheets have (in terms of positioning and colour schemes).

We codies may love Zeldman, Eric Meyer and CSS Zen Garden, and I know Jeffrey Veen’s written an article but that’s too general and targetted at an audience that is somewhat enlightened already. We can’t push through a vague paper without looking foolish and having our proposal backfire on us. I mean, try talking web standards to these groups:

  • Senior business managers who don’t know much about technology and don’t want to spend money on intangibles when they do not lead to substantial savings for their company. (Reduction in bandwidth costs isn’t good enough. Corporate web hosting fees are much bigger and those who are paying it, can afford it as it is)
  • Busy executives who are simply trying to get their websites launched in the shortest time, satisfying all the content and visual requirements, usually on a fixed budget, with their performance reviews at stake, working with companies who know nuts about web standards

In fact, in all these aspects, usability ranks pretty much above web standards. In my case, I am responsible for a public service so my team needs to ensure that customers can find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible; that their needs are met; and if not, that they should have a channel of communication to request for more information. You can have a website that’s beautifully coded, with valid XHTML and stylesheets, that is difficult to use. You’d have won the battle, but lost the war. A lot of things need to work hand in hand for an optimal result, but some things are more important than others in satisfying the objectives.

But a little part of me (the part that joined WSSG – our Singapore web standards group) is nagging at my conscience, knowing that the job could be done better, that web pages could load a microsecond faster, that thousands of web pages could be controlled more easily with proper use of stylesheets.

And that comes back to why I need your help.


  1. Found a presentation on Standards but it may not be suitable for management level as it’s too technical
  2. I forgot – who needs Web Standards when all we are allowed to use is IE?
  3. Griping aside … maybe I could argue that using Web Standards makes it easier to migrate pages into other mediums like handheld computers and phones? (However that’s still a fringe activity as our mainstay will always be computer browsers).
  4. Sadly, coming to think of it, none of my marketing or business books mention using Web Standards. Instead, it’s all about strategy and communicating to your audience. Web Standards still belong in the realm of the geeks.
  5. How do we explain the importance of XML or web services, in a country whose news websites don’t even have XML newsfeeds? People are not exposed to these possibilities in the first place, so they do not understand their potential.
  6. God’s Smuggler, by HicksDesign, is a spanking good example of how to create a beautiful, usable website with web standards. More of this, please! I need to show it to management …


  1. Terrence Wood

    I have found that it is better just to adopt web standards as a way of working and not bother getting into a discourse with your client about it.
    If pressed you should talk about the benefits to the client’s such as “more responsive, faster to download”, “future-proofed” (then talk about web trends such as syndication, if you need to expand on it), “easiliy updated”, “search engine friendly”. It’s best to talk in analogies and metaphors so people can grasp your concepts (e.g. a web site is a book, and the www is a library).
    I’d also like to point out that a lot of the web is created by amateurs and that professional design is required to set your client apart and quickly establish a high trust relationship with consumers.
    Have a conversation about meeting your customers needs, not about web standards.
    On your point about only using IE: don’t fall into that trap… you may not be using IE in 6 months!

  2. bogyit

    You can tell them about WASP:
    And tell them that using Standards will make the pages usable by the next generation of browsers. This means that while the other pages will break, your standard-compliant-pages will work without any problem.
    I hope you understood me, my English isn’t very well.
    Bye 🙂

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