Web standards: a Win-Win-Win situation

Today is the fourth annual “Blue Beanie Day,” a tradition established by the father of web standards, Jeffrey Zeldman.

What are web standards? Simply put, they’re awesome. But seriously… the goal of web standards is to establish a set of best practices for web designers and developers, and a set of open, shared languages and tools for building websites and displaying them in a consistent manner.

At the heart of the modern web standards movement are a set of three core languages: HTML5, for organizing and structuring content; CSS3, for designing the presentation of that content; and JavaScript, for providing rich interaction with that content.

HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript are all open standards. The specifications are published for anyone to see; they’re open and evolving, for anyone to contribute to; and they’re freely available for anyone to build an application for rendering content delivered via these languages (in common parlance, a web browser, but we’re starting to see “web” content appearing in all sorts of applications for computers and mobile devices these days).

But why are these three web standards so great? Because they create a win-win-win situation:

A win for web designers/developers. By establishing a common set of tools that are open and free to anyone, web designers and developers can get started with no barriers to entry. Plus, by standardizing these tools, the same skills can be applied anywhere a website is being built. And as web browser makers adopt these standards, the last 15 years’ worth of browser-to-browser inconsistency will fade. Our job is made easier, we can get more done in less time, and, with powerful frameworks like jQuery built on top of these standards, this power to do more with less will grow exponentially.

A win for site owners. If you’re paying to build a website, you want to know you’re spending your money wisely. You want your investment to last, and you want to make sure everyone who wants to access your site, can. Web standards are the key to an accessible, reliable, “future-proof” website. Some Internet technologies may come and go; jumping on the latest trend may make your site seem “with it” today, but tomorrow it will be painfully dated… if it even works at all. But these three core web technologies will always be at the heart of the web. Plus, a site built with web standards will automatically be structured well for search engine listings, without the need for expensive and questionable SEO tactics.

A win for Internet users. Web content that is built and delivered with a diligent adherence to web standards will work reliably with any device, any software, that is used to access the Internet. Plus, no well-formed, standards-compliant HTML page ever crashed a web browser.

Web standards: Win-Win-Win.

This proves my theory!

Further knocking Apple down from its pedestal (not that I’m not still a rabid fanboy as mentioned in the previous post), we have this further proof of my theory that although Steve Jobs usually has impeccable instincts, once he gets something stuck in his craw, no matter how outlandish it is, Apple simply must go through with it.

I’ve been thinking this a lot in regards to the grand trilogy of Leopard GUI design decisions that have been widely criticized by the world of Mac users (including myself): the translucent menu bar, the 3-D Dock, and the Stacks icons. But now here’s some proof that this really does go on (if you accept it as proof, which I do in this case), from the hardware side. The left side, to be specific, of the current MacBook line. I happen to be sitting in front of one right now, and I can vouch for this. The left side is “squishy,” right where those two screws are. They’re clearly not attached to anything! Therefore, they must be purely cosmetic.

Which is pretty ridiculous, when you think about it.

Even I am not this much of an Apple fanboy

Wow. I mean, wow. This guy freakin’ loves Apple. He must have a giant poster of Steve Jobs in his bedroom. Either that or he owns a mountain of Apple stock.

Whatever the case, Tom Yager finds Mac OS X Leopard to be without flaw. Not only a “10” but a “Perfect 10.” There’s no way that even I can say that.

Granted, my gripes with it are petty and purely visual: the translucent menu bar; the glossy, glassy Dock; the stupid Stacks icons. I love its functionality and performance, and haven’t run into any actual problems using it (other than the fact that iPhoto is flaking out on me, but I’m running an old version and I have over 7000 photos in my library, neither of which is Leopard’s fault; and I had to upgrade Photoshop for compatibility, but with CS3 I’m glad I did that anyway).

But still… perfect? Come on. And it gets even more nauseating as the article goes on.

So yes, if you have a Mac, by all means buy Leopard; it’s $129 far better spent than on Vista. (Not that you can get a usable version of Vista for that price… but if you could, you could run it on your Mac too.) If you don’t have a Mac, now’s a great time to give one serious consideration. But if you’re still on the fence, don’t read this article first; with friends like Tom Yager (and of course the ever-insufferable Guy Kawasaki), Apple needs no enemies: this kind of sycophantic Apple-can-do-no-wrong drivel only proves the point for people who think Apple products are just for the fanboys.

For an antidote to this sickening lovefest, check out this anti-Leopard rant a former coworker just emailed to me.