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Making CLUAS a W3C compliant website

Jul 15

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009  RssIcon

While for many surfers the WWW often resembles a modern Wild West where just about anything goes there are - believe it or not - some formal standards in place. The particular standards I'm talking about are for HTML code: how HTML should be used when creating a webpage (and how a browser should interpret HTML and present it on a page). The setting of the standards is overseen by the all important World Wide Web consortium (also know as W3C, which is headed up by Tim Berners Lee, no less than your man who invented the World Wide Web).

W3C logoNow to be honest, up to about a year ago, CLUAS did not care about these standards and there was not a single page among our thousands that was even close to being compliant. This did not stop me having a begrudging respect for websites that spouted on about their "W3C compliancy". I was after all only too keenly aware that CLUAS would need to overcome a proverbial mountain to enter the hallowed corridors of compliant websites.

All the same, last year I looked into it and I started - slowly - to update our HTML code, with a little change here and minor tweak there, all with a view to making as many as possible of CLUAS.com's thousands of pages compliant. To be honest it was initially just one of those pointless personal challenges you set yourself once in a while, the motivation of which few people would ever understand (and if they ever did understand the motivation they'd doubt your sanity).

The exercise is ongoing however already the result is that already a massive number of pages on CLUAS.com are at last complaint to W3C's "HTML 4.01 Transitional" standard. Basically the vast majority of pages whose address does not end in .aspx are now complaint (for example 73% of last month’s top 100 most visited "non aspx" pages are now compliant).

So what about these non-compliant .aspx web pages? Well these pages are generated using the DotNetNuke content management system we use and just a handful of them are already compliant (to the different "XHTML 1.0 Transitional" standard). However the level of their compliancy will improve in coming months as the next release of DotNetNuke Blog Module (which is used to publish our album and gig reviews, blogs, and interviews) should be fully compliant, meaning in one swoop huge numbers of CLUAS pages will step in the world of compliancy.

So why bother about compliancy? Put simply there are a number of advantages, such as:

  • File size and loading times are reduced.
  • Sites are easier to update in terms of content or styling because of the smart structure (i.e. separation of content from styling) that is implicit in W3C compliant websites.
  • Greater assurance of future proofing your website - if a site obeys established rules, they should continue to work in browsers and devices of the future.
  • And having a compliant website means the webmaster feels all smug and elitist compared to pitiful other sites that have not clue about the wonders of compliant HTML code.

The gas thing is that while all this effort may result one day in CLUAS.com being a website fully compliant with W3C standards, the next generation of HTML standards for web pages are already in the pipeline. So we may have to start this compliancy effort all over again…

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