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Will the site conform to W3C Recommendations?

Sample text for brainstorming ... not final product

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international industry consortium dedicated to "leading the Web to its full potential". It’s led by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web. Founded in 1994, the W3C has more than 450 member organizations - including Microsoft, America Online (parent company of Netscape Communications), Apple Computer, Adobe, Macromedia, Sun Microsystems, and a variety of other hardware and software manufacturers, content providers, academic institutions, and telecommunications companies. The Consortium is hosted by three research institutions - MIT in the US, INRIA in Europe, and Keio University in Japan.

The W3C develops open specifications (de facto standards) to enhance the interoperability of web-related products. W3C Recommendations are developed by working groups consisting of Consortium members and invited experts. Working groups obtain general consensus from companies and other organizations involved in creating applications for the Web, and create Working Drafts and Proposed Recommendations. These are then submitted to the W3C membership and director, for formal approval as W3C Recommendations. More information regarding this process and the review stages can be obtained from the W3C website.

Complying with web standards can give your web pages greater visibility in web searches. The structural information present in compliant documents makes it easy for search engines to access and evaluate the information in those documents, and they get indexed more accurately.

Because use of web standards makes it easier for server-side as well as client-side software to understand the structure of your document, adding a search engine to your own site becomes easier and gives better results.

Standards are written so that old browsers will still understand the basic structure of your documents. Even if they can’t understand the newest and coolest additions to the standards, they’ll be able to display the content of your site. The same, of course, applies to robots - systems that collect information from your site on behalf of search engines and other indexers.

Compliant code gives you the opportunity of validating your page with a validation service. Validators process your documents and present you with a list of errors. This makes finding and correcting errors a lot easier, and can save you a lot of time.

Compliant documents can easily be converted to other formats, such as databases or Word documents. This allows for more versatile use of the information within documents on the World Wide Web, and simplified migration to new systems - hardware as well as software - including devices such as TVs and PDAs.

Accessibility is an important idea behind many web standards, especially HTML.

Not only does this mean allowing the web to be used by people with disabilities, but also allowing web pages to be understood by people using browsers other than the usual ones - including voice browsers that read web pages aloud to people with sight impairments, Braille browsers that translate text into Braille, hand-held browsers with very little monitor space, teletext displays, and other unusual output devices.

As the variety of web access methods increases, adjusting or duplicating websites to satisfy all needs will become increasingly difficult (indeed, some say it’s impossible even today). Following standards is a major step towards solving this problem. Making your sites standards-compliant will help ensure not only that traditional browsers, old and new, will all be able to present sites properly, but also that they will work with unusual browsers and media.

Some consequences of ignoring standards are obvious: the most basic consequence is that you will restrict access to your site. How much business sense does it make to limit your audience to only a fraction of those who wish be a part of it? For a business site, denying access to even small portions of a target audience can make a big difference to your profit margin. For an educational site, it makes sense to allow access not only to affluent, able-bodied school-children with graphical browsers, but also to children in Third-World countries who only have text-based browsers access, or disabled students using specialized browsers.

The same principle applies to all types of websites — while straying from the standards and taking advantage of browser-specific features may be tempting, the increased accessibility which comes from standards-compliance will lead to far greater rewards in the long run.

Most web standards are generally designed with forward- and backward-compatibility in mind — so that data using old versions of the standards will continue to work in new browsers, and data using new versions of the standards will "gracefully degrade" to produce an acceptable result in older browsers.

Because a website may go through several teams of designers during its lifetime, it is important that those people are able to comprehend the code and to edit it easily. Web standards offer a set of rules that every Web developer can follow, understand, and become familiar with: When one developer designs a site to the standards, another will be able to pick up where the former left off.

Web content providers are granted the right to use the "W3C valid" logo on pages that pass validation (though the use of the W3C Markup Validator) for the W3C technology represented by the icon, and only on pages that pass validation. The icon must be used as a link to revalidate the Web page, thus providing a way to verify the page author's assertion that it passed validation.

Note that "W3C Valid" icons are not an endorsement by the W3C of the page's author, the substantive content of the page, nor its design. Instead, the icons are only a mechanism to identify pages that have been determined to be valid, and to easily re-validate pages as often as as they are modified.

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