Does your website comply with web development standards and guidelines? Part 1

by | Nov 13, 2018 | Web development standards | 2 comments

For almost a year now, I have been conducting a survey of Australian websites as an ongoing research project for my business. Each day, I visit websites and compare and contrast their elements against the web development standards and guidelines, which I have introduced and discussed in earlier blogs. I also test website functionality. The results of my research indicate that there are an alarming large number of websites, which do not adhere to basic web development standards. Furthermore, very few are accessible for the vision impaired.

However, a few days ago, I was running some personal online errands and discovered a number of websites that are truly exceptional. These were websites for the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). Although I had expected these to meet the guidelines, I was delighted with their high technical standard; these truly adhere to web development standards and have attained the highest level of web accessibility I have come across.

After visiting these sites, I was inspired to write this blog to help to raise more awareness about these standards. In particular, I wish to explain some key processes that need to be followed when developing an accessible website. By understanding the process, website owners will be able to ask developers to raise their work to meet these standards.

Why do we have web development standards?

Few website owners realise that there are web development standards and these serve to assist and guide Web Developers and Web Publishers to create well-presented websites that are ordered, logical and accessible to all users. These standards are a fairly recent development. When I first began developing websites back in the 1990s, there were virtually no guidelines. While the industry grew in leaps and bounds, without clear guidelines, websites were often poorly edited, used blinking text, extremely bright colours and unnecessary animation. Meanwhile, little attention was paid to content. In a previous blog, I have discussed the development of these guidelines mainly inspired by legal action and how they are now requirements in the UK and the United States.

Even though these standards exist in Australia, many web development companies continue to use the same and now outdated techniques developed in the 90s, but disguise them with more advanced applications and templates. This means that websites continue to feature excessive animation, bright colours and other kinds of visual trickery. I can’t say whether web developers choose to continue to overlook the website requirements or standards because they lack knowledge of them or simply wish to appease their clients, who are unaware of the standards, but want a visually appealing website to attract their targeted audience. In the end, the standards exist and they must be followed regardless.

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