why have Web standards?
Displaying text and graphics on the Web involves using a programming language called HTML. If there is a standard way of writing HTML, then every piece of software used to browse the Web (you are probably using Microsoft's Internet Explorer) knows what to expect, and can interpret as appropriate.
why are they not adhered to?
The main reason for Web standards not being adhered to is that Web browser manufacturers (Microsoft is the current chief culprit) favour adding extra features which only their software will interpret correctly. This is a business tactic to shame the competition: when a site using these proprietary features is viewed in another browser, it will not display as intended. Thus the compliant browser is made to look bad, when in fact it is the nonstandard behaviour of the extra features which is to blame. I recommend using Mozilla's Firefox browser.
does this really matter?
The prevailing opinion amongst most Web designers (particularly those who use HTML-generating software to make websites) is that if a site works in Internet Explorer, then that's good enough. This is not the case, for five main reasons:
■Mozilla's standards-based Firefox browser is making heavy inroads into Internet Explorer's vastly entrenched user base. This browser - as with most - will not tolerate sloppy Web pages.
■People with failing eyesight use specialised screen reading software to give them access to websites, whose correct display may be a legal requirement.
■Mobile users are unlikely to use Internet Explorer (they will probably be using a cut-down version of the excellent Opera browser).
■Search engine rankings are greatly aided by simple, clear page construction.
■Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 7 (when released) will have greatly increased CSS support, which will vastly increase the need for standards-based websites.
what can I do about it?
Web designers such as myself who are able to create websites which are both 100% standards-compliant and display correctly in Internet Explorer are your solution to this issue. There is no reason why all but the quirkiest of Web page designs cannot be constructed using standards-compliant HTML, it simply requires knowledge, skill and the willingness to produce a top-quality product.
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