It's been known in the Web-development community for several years now that well-designed, semantic, standards-compliant Websites use dramatically less resources (such as bandwidth) than 1997-era tangles of nested tables and invalid HTML. But it's still refreshing to read confirmation that that truth is pretty universally applicable - especially when that reading doesn't depend on what we now know as the "latest and greatest" Web browsers.
Let’s take another example. Here’s how a link to a story in the Arts section looked before standards:<img src="../site_images/sfex/homekickerarrow.gif" width="6" height="8"> <span class="kicker">Movie Review: Dickie Roberts<br></span> <a href="../templates/story.cfm?displaystory=1&storyname=090503a_dickie" class="headlinesm">Problem 'Child'</a> <hr noshade size="1" color="#EEEEEE">Here’s the same thing following standards:<h5>Movie Review: Hero</h5> <h4><a href="/article/index.cfm/i/082704a_hero">Holding out for a 'Hero'</a></h4>Again, once it is styled, the second version can be made to look identical to the first. When you can simplify markup in this way, it starts to make a big difference in bandwidth.
Comparing last year’s table-based site to our new standards-based one, the amount of information on our homepage is strikingly similar. Both contain basically the same elements and yet the HTML is 13K smaller on the CSS-version at 19.6K.
As a result, even though our traffic was about 40% higher in July 2004 than in September 2003, our bandwidth was almost exactly the same for those two months.
"[E]ven though our traffic was about 40% higher...our bandwidth was almost exactly the same..." What other development practice allows you to simultaneously:
- boost your traffic by nearly half without similar increases in bandwidth costs;
- improve your search-engine results without expensive, error-prone twiddling;
- open your site to a potentially much wider audience, by not limiting what platform or browser your audience uses; and
- significantly reduce the cost and complexity of maintaining your site?
I'm not (quite) to the point of some of the more, um, evangelical developers out there in equating broken, invalid sites with actionable incompetence — but if our craft has serious hopes of making it out of "hobbyist" status in the eyes of non-technical business people, to where they treat practitioners as members of a profession, then we need to get some meaningful, practical, well-defined standards. This (standard-compliant, semantic development) is at or very near the top of my list of such standards.