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How web standards feels

When talking about web standards many of us have started using marketing terms. Every day we hear about the bandwidth savings, the increased user base that are able to access your site, how well it affects SEO and so on. But none of that was what got me into all this. Let me tell you about the thing that convinced me: the feeling.

For me the web standards revolution started with a feeling that something was wrong. “There has got to be a better way”, was a thought that buzzed in my ears when nesting my tables to create some padding.

I first saw CSS in other people’s code, often embedded in style attributes with text-decoration: none; to remove underlines. I started experimenting, but the deeper aspects of how it could change the way websites were built didn’t occur to me. It was just another tool to place things where I wanted them, and make things look like I wanted.

At that time I didn’t know any server-side language so all my sites where frame based static HTML, often with a fancy javascript enabled select box for navigation. I did use some CSS just to remove the underlinings on my links, but that was it. Something still felt wrong, was this really the best way?

The “AHA!” feeling came much later; I’d love to say a certain moment when I understood but it wasn’t a certain text or piece of advice, it grew on me. Suddenly everything felt like it had its place. It wasn’t always obvious where that place was, but you could reason your way there. When the strength of CSS occurred to me, it was like finally understanding a tough mathematical formula. Yes!

So go ahead, show me your pretty charts of workday savings, CSS Zen garden remakes, or new techniques you can use. I like them, I really do, but I’m pretty convinced it’s the “AHA!” feeling that finally wins people over to the web standards side.

What won you over? Can you convince someone else using that method?

(Inspiration from Motivating others)

Friendly Bit is a blog by Emil Stenström, a Swedish web developer that occasionally gets ideas of how to improve the internet.