All power to web standards!
What have you done to the site?
I've re-designed the site structure to take advantage of "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS) and to try to build a site that will be accessible to a greater amount of people. In short, I'm now taking notice of this thing called web standards.
What are web standards?
These standards are established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and help to produce a common set of rules to be followed by all different types of browsers, as well as other electronic devices which can access the web (for example, palm pilots and screen readers for the sight-impaired).
For further reading, take a look at http://webstandards.org/about/.
Why does it look crap in my browser?
Older browsers don't support web standards, because they were made in a time when there was little pressure on the browser makers to make good, standard-compliant browsers. Netscape 4 and Internet Explorer 4 came out five years ago, when people were just catching onto the web and just wanted web sites to look good and work reasonably well — they weren't as worried about the underlying structure of web sites.
I'm not discriminating against older browsers. The problem with old browsers is that they don't support web standards. I decided to take advantage of this support in new browsers, as the site statistics showed the majority of visitors were using version 5+ browsers.
What's wrong with the old HTML? It looks great in my old browser.
HTML was originally designed to help scientists publish their physics papers. It wasn't meant to look great! However, when ordinary people started getting on the web, they found the standard HTML way too boring. So people (and browser makers) began to hack HTML in a way which would let them make the web look great and exciting.
This created a lot of problems — for example, basic structuring principles of web sites were left in the dust, and the major browsers came up with their own HTML tags and document structures in order to dominate the market.
What's this thing called CSS?
Cascading Style Sheets, released by the W3C in 1996, gives both designers and users fantastic control over the appearance of web pages. It help web designers and developers to separate "style" from "content". It's like getting a HTML document has no formatting whatsoever, and then linking it to a set of rules which define the formatting.
You can learn CSS at sites like w3schools. If you've ever made a web page, you'll love it! For example, you can control the font of a whole site by changing a single line in a single text file. And you don't need to use "spacer gifs" and tables for page layout anymore!
So why should I upgrade my browser?
The more people use standard-compliant browsers, the more web designers will be encouraged to design standard-compliant web sites, which load faster (no HTML workarounds), separate content from style, display consistently across different browsers and devices, and are accessible to everyone.
The latest major browsers have great support for web standards. These include Internet Explorer 6, Netscape 6, Opera 6 and Mozilla 1.0. Most will run on a variety of operating systems. You don't need super-fast computer to use a standard-compliant browser! The point is to make the web accessible to everyone.
Please visit the webstandards.org Browser Upgrade page for information and links to the best standard-compliant browsers. It explains everything in detail.
With your help in upgrading to better browsers, designers can be confident in producing web sites that take full advantage of a common set of web standards, and therefore make sites accessible to everyone. And then the web experience can only get better.
Thanks for reading! And since you haven't dropped off just yet, check out these interesting links:
- To hell with bad browsers
- MaKo 4 CSS
- Web Page Reconstruction with CSS
- House of Style tutorials
If you have any questions or comments on any of this, please let me know! If you like, you can send a question anonymously and I'll post a reply on this page.