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Thus Web Standards (Kind of) Enter the Mainstream September 25, 2006 – 9:24 p.m. – Permalink
Paige: Mom says you’re designing a Web page for school.
Jason: Yup.
Jason: And not just any Web page, but the ultimate Web page.
Jason: I’m using every tool in the box. HTML... XHTML... CSS... SOAP... Ajax... Flash... Perl... JavaScript... you name it.
Paige: What’s the page going to look like?
Jason: I’ll figure that out when I’m done.

Last week on FoxTrot, the famous comic strip featuring the Fox family by Ben Amend, the topic consisted of a website project Jason has to submit to his teacher at school. I was thoroughly surprised to see Amend’s proficient literacy in Web standards terms in Tuesday’s strip. But is it really that surprising?

After all, Web standards have been around for a very long while now, and although the people who use them constitute a significant minority, many surfers, at least, know what it is. The problem is that nobody’s actually utilizing it to great effect.

As 456 Berea Street’s Roger Johansson aptly states in “Don’t stop advocating best practices” from September 20, “If you look at the Web now and compare it to the Web of a few years ago, you will find that a larger number of websites make proper use of Web standards now than back then. However, the markup used on the majority of sites produced in the year 2006 is not very different from what I used to use back in 1998. In some cases it’s even worse (I used my last font tags in 1998).”

Of course, Jason breaks the golden rule of aesthetic Web design in the last panel above, but that is beside the point. The point is: Web standards have entered the mainstream. Why isn’t every site now standardized and valid? For larger sites, it’s the work and the energy required to do just that. It’s simply too cumbersome a task.

What is there not to admire about Web standards anyway? It offers a chance for handicapped people to view websites and their content with relative ease, and it just makes the entire Web cleaner. Compare standardization to, say, a revolutionary form of renewable energy that is the wave of the future. No one embraces it immediately, but eventually, it will morph into dominating ubiquity.

Whatever the case, perhaps the inexplicability of this concept is part of the reason why Jason’s website got beaten by his archenemy Eileen Jacobson’s on Friday’s strip.