eb standards aren’t just an abstract idea (though the creators of Internet Explorer seem to think that they are). There are a concrete set of rules for developing well formed markup in html which were established by the WC3. Most modern browsers follow this standard when determining how an html page will display to the user; however there are some browsers (IE in particular) which have snubbed their noses at the standard. This makes building standard layouts that work in all browsers particularly challenging, and it is the main reason that my job exist. I insure that my code is WC3 validated as XHTML 1.0 strict by validating them with the WC3 validation service.
So how is Standards Compliant html different than non-standard?
- Consistent Display of content: A non standards compliant layout may work in some browsers, however the results are often unpredictable and if your site is coded improperly you shouldn’t be surprised when you find that your right menu is floating out off the page in Firefox, or not displaying at all in IE. To put it simply if your page isn’t standards compliant there is no telling what your users will see.
- Search Engine Friendly: Most search engines aren’t run by people; they use programs called spiders that scan the content of websites to build their listings. If your page has broken markup and incorrect page layout you can confuse their spiders and as a result you may lose ranking.
- Accessibility Issues: Proper tagging and layout for your Html is essential for those with disabilities such as the blind which rely on page readers to understand the content of your pages.
In summary, there really isn’t much room for argument when it comes to web standards. All pages should validate as WC3 compliant to insure that your website succeeds.
(Note: there are many contributed modules for Drupal that output html. Most are standards compliant, however there are some exceptions. If a module outputs non-standard code within a themable function I will override it.)