Thursday 12 August 2004
AS CONTEMPORARY WEB professionals, I believe we have a duty to re-hash standards arguments. Revisiting these issues might seem overkill or inappropriate, but each time we do it, we enlighten a new audience.
I’ve seen people debate whether “leading” web designers are all using the h1 header element exactly the same way on their personal sites. The question isn’t meaningless but it feels small and slightly beside the point. Likewise, the same ancient arguments about XHTML keep slopping to the surface. Don’t we have bigger water animals to sauté?
In his post, Zeldman discusses the fact that he’s focused away from speaking and writing to design these days, and points out how standards is an aspect of design rather than the whole potato, which is a point I heartily agree with.
However, there is grave danger in stopping these conversations. Those of us “leading” the industry and standards argument are decidedly elitist. We think that because we get it, everyone does. Well, the reality is that it’s not top-tier, well-known designers who have already been exposed to these concepts doing the majority of the work on the Web these days.
Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has 600 people associated with its Web workgroup? At a keynote I did for their conference this week, the vast majority of the 150 or so representatives from that group had never seen or heard of pure CSS design. This, despite the fact that they are hard-working, knowledgeable folks who have to pay attention to Section 508 concerns.
Word to my sometimes isolated colleagues: The people doing the mass document management at this time need to see these discussions, read these concerns, and be exposed to standards because for many of them, it’s the first time.
I say keep asking the same questions. This of course does not preclude the asking of new ones. But to name these issues “noise” insults the hard work of the masses who are building the Web now and simply strokes the privileged few who have the knowledge and experience to consider these questions old and in the way.