Website Promotion And Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Website Design Standards
It is hard to believe that the World Wide Web is only 25 years old. It has developed at a helter-skelter pace, and has become a dominant technology in a short space of time.
The evolution of the technology has had its dead-ends and wrong turns, as competing interests tried to dominate and push their own interests. The software industry had to adopt some common ground and web standards became a necessity.
The World Wide Web Consortium
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the original architect of the World Wide Web. The W3C, an international consortium of companies involved with the Internet and the World Wide Web, was created to ensure compatibility in the adoption of standards. The Web interoperability standards and guidelines include HTML, XHTML and CSS.
Compliant web design ensures that:
- The Website is accessible from all web browsers
- The Website is accessible from devices like mobile phones
- Each web page is search engine friendly
- Each web page is consistently presented
This Website was successfully validated by the W3C.
Web Style Sheets allow the separation of presentation (the visual layout or style) from content (the text) in designing a web page. This design approach supersedes the original concept of HTML, where a page's mark-up defined both style and content.
The style is defined in the HTML or in an external Style Sheet file using the language Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). CSS is used to describe the presentation (colours, fonts, borders, margins, etc) of a document in the HTML mark-up. CSS is the recommended way to add style to Website pages.
The Benefits of CSS
The separation of style and content has many benefits.
- Speed – The initial page load time includes the time to download the HTML and the Style Sheet. Thereafter the Style Sheet file will be in the browser's cache, and the reduced size of each page will result in load times that are quicker than pages without a Style Sheet. Also, a Style Sheet will eliminate code that is duplicated in each page.
- Search Engines – Slow Websites will be penalised by the Search Engines. Faster page loads makes the Search Engines more efficient. They will be able to crawl a greater number of pages in the allotted time. And with more pages indexed there will be a greater chance of your Website being found.
- Maintainability – Having the presentation style in a file significantly reduces maintenance time. It also reduces the chance of error and improves consistency. A change (font, colour, margin etc) to the CSS file need only be made in one place, to affect all the pages in a Website. The alternative approach of using CSS embedded in each individual page, is time consuming and error-prone. It should only be used for presentation exceptions.
- Printing – A different Style Sheet should be used to control printed pages. This will allow the use of a different font, font size or font colour for the printed page. It can also be used to exclude different sections (like the menu or a footer) from the printed page.
- Consistency – Sites that use Style Sheets with either XHTML or HTML are easier to modify so that they appear similar in different browsers. Headings, images, paragraphs and lists all receive consistently applied styles from the external Style Sheet.
The HTML 5 Standard
The W3C stopped developing HTML version 4.01 in 2009 and XHTML 2 in 2009. HTML 5 (taken over by the W3C from WHATWG, which was formed due to the slowness of W3C) is now dominant.
New features handle bar charts, multimedia and graphical content, without having to resort to plug-ins like Flash or SilverLight. The new standard also has a range of tags to document segments of a page, like section, header and article.
The standards are slowly emerging from a constant state of flux. HTML 5 and CSS3 have now reached finalisation. HTML 5.1 is in draft form and continues to introduce new features.
Microsoft catches up