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This report explains the significance of web standards for web designing. A brief introduction depicts the requirement of web standards and further w3c consortium Standards has been discussed. The discussion then focuses on the different web standards Accessibility, Device-Independence, Backwards Compatibility, Web Interoperability and Web validation. The report critically evaluates the importance of web standards and potential use of the web.
The web was framed for the purpose of sharing knowledge among the internet users. These users could be geographically and culturally different. For a few years websites were used only as a tool of communication; however, with the development of social networking sites web applications have found global applications among a wide variety of users.
Web standards are a set of rules and guidelines for website designers. Web standards form a road map for rational, sophisticated and cost effective web development (Zeldman and Marcotte, Jeffery, Ethan, 2009). Web standards include various aspects of website designing such as coding, accessibility, platform independent, web crawler etc.
Using web standards the coding of one webpage can be reused in the webpage of another website by making different CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) as we do in HTML web pages. The designing of style sheet separately irrespective of coding page increases efficiency of whole webpage. Moreover web standards help to locate errors in coding page very easy. The designing of style sheets separately from coding page, downloads the web page quicker and increases efficiency and flexibility of the website. (Khristine, Annwn Page, 2006). Moreover web standards also provide rules for easy accessibility of websites by every user; a user could be blind, deaf, motor impaired etc. Thus the use of web standards makes websites accessible to even people with disabilities.
Web standards also help the web designer to develop a website where the web sites need not to be dependent on particular device. The web sites made under the guidelines of web standards run on every machine without any required compatibility. Designing of websites under the shadow of web standards ranks the websites on top of the search engine.
2.0 Web Accessibility:-
Web accessibility removes the barrier for the person with disability (e.g. blind, deaf, motor impairment, photosensitivity, learning disability, speech disability and the people feels disability due to aging) to access or contribute to web.
Web accessibility means that people with disability can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web. (Thatcher, Jim, 2006).
The primary focus of web accessibility is the potential use of websites for people with disabilities. Few users can't visualise the text unless it is large or high contrast colour, few can't move their hand to type text because of physical disability and few older people can't control mouse because of lack of enough precision control. To encompass all these disability effects in web accessibilities, Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web introduced the World Wide Web Consortium (W3c).
2.1 World Wide Web Consortium (w3c):-
The World Wide Web consortium is an organisation that provides web standards for the web as well as the rules and specification to design the web. The consortium consists of an international group of members, public web developers who work together to develop standards, guidelines to ensure long term growth of the web. (Millhollon, Castrina and Lothamer, Mary, Jeffy and Leslie, 2006)
W3c's main goal is to promote accessibility and the purpose of the web content guidelines is to explain how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities (Chisholm and Wendy, Gregg and Vanderheiden 1999). Different standards and guidelines are available to help web designers to design their web to be accessible. A global survey report conducted on 20 countries and on 100 web sites examined by the United Kingdom, based on a study on web accessibility by the agency Nomensa, concluded that 97% of tested web sites fail to achieve minimum accessibility level. The survey was mainly conducted to measure the extent to which people living with disability are able to take web services benefits or not (Knights, Miya, 2006).
The inaccessibility of web pages may be because of different perceptions of webmaster, lack of time, lack of training, lack of managerial support, inadequate software tools, and confusing web guidelines as per the survey conducted by Lazar Jonathan (J, Lazar, 2004).
4.0 Device Independent:-
Day by day enhancement in the technology introduced wide variety of devices to run huge amount of websites with different resources. Device independent depicts certain guidelines so the web contents and other applications should have potential to run on any kind of devices. (Golding, Paul, 2004)
The steady increase of web accessibility in mobile, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), interactive television system, voice response system, kiosk rather than to hang on desktop, made important for web designer to refer different device independent guidelines so the efficiency of web resources remains advantageous for different device users.*Furthermore, in some countries because of legal concern of the web accessibility for the disabled people. (Paciello, Michael G, 2000. ).The web accessibility requires device independence according to their use approximating people need voice interaction rather than text, to alter image with text etc.
Even though the Device Independent attribute of web pages helps users to browse websites on small screens, most websites are designed for large scale screens making it extremely difficult to browse websites on mobile phones (http: //xhtml.com. 2008). Similarly, flash web pages do not support most mobile browsers including iPhone, which is why a site designed with Flash on a mobile phone will display a blank page rather than a Flash page (Warner, Janine, 2010).
5.0 Backwards Compatibility:-
Backwards Compatibility is a feature that promises the function of previous version or standard with the new one (Murer, Bonati and Furrer, Stephan, Bruno and Frank J., 2009.). Backwards Compatibility has its major impact in the era of technology. *The feature of backward compatibility made technology independent. Older software, older hardware devices have great independence attributes which help to be compatible with new technology and protect them from getting obsolete.
*Plenty of applications are being introduced progressively which have an impact in our daily life. Thus the feature of backward compatibility in different operating systems always cheered the computer user. Otherwise every time user needs to require installing new operating system as and when they run different kind of new applications. Therefore the application should support non-traditional gadgets or devices and web enabled mobile phones, so that Braille readers or people with other kind of disabilities can also use the application without any conflict, moreover cost of designing a new version to run the old application can also be reduced. Furthermore, the web needs to be designed in such way so that the design and build works on today's and tomorrow's standard and also performs acceptably in older browsers even if they do not render pixel - for- pixel in the same way in the older browser as they do in newer one (Jeffery, Zeldman, 2007).
6.0 Web Interoperability:-
A web service is exchange of information between heterogeneous computers located in the globe with different operating systems and different manufacturers. An interoperable web service works across different platforms, languages and applications designed by different vendors (Shetty and S, Sujala D and Dr. Vadivel, 2009).*Web service interoperability organisation works as a standard integrator and helps web services advance in structure in a coherent manner. (Endrei, Arsanjani, Chua, Comte, Krogdahl, Luo and Newling, Mark, Jenny, Ali, Sook, Philippe, PÅ'l, Dr Min and Tony, 2004). The fundamental requirement of interoperability is a system, which provides cheap exchange of information and multiple vocabulary adaptation in widely separated computer systems.
Owing to the gradual increase in number of connecting nodes on the internet, the semantic and diverse format will become challenging in coming days (Yu and Bouguettaya, Qi and Athman, 2009). The diverse recipient system requires interoperability between the systems to be fast, secure, cost effective and adaptable.
Web services are a kind of software components that follow some computational task (exchange information) through standard protocols. Interoperability works in web services now-a-days to overcome from old platforms (Common Request Broker Architecture), RMI (Remote Method Invocation etc. There are several interoperability middleware languages and technologies built to cater for interoperability tiers suiting the smart home requirement, Microsoft Component Object Model (COM), .Net Frame Work, Sun's Java 2 Enterprises Edition (J2EE), Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) (Perumal, Ramli, Leong, Mansor and Samsudin, Thinagaram, Abdul Rahman, Chui Yew, Shattri and Kaairulmizam, 2008). However, web services provide interoperability across languages and platforms but as commented by Sujala D.Shetty and Dr.S.Vadivel the difference in approach and technical challenges between .Net and J2EE are sometimes the hindrance for interoperability (D Shetty and Vadivel, Sujala and Dr S, 2009). Thus to create web services across organisations all technology partners require to follow similar standards and avoid exposing proprietary implementations (Wangming Ye. 2004).
7.0 Web Validation:-
Validation is the process of assuring data against the requirement or the standard, whereas web validation is the check of accuracy of codes used to create a website following computer language specification. The accessibility of web application in different devices such as mobiles and PDA increased the importance of web validation because valid code is easier to reinterpret to create different views of web page content (http: //www.motive.co.nz/index.php. 2006).
Web validation is an important aspect of web designing because the incorrect web code may render the web information in an incorrect way. A valid web code does work on internet in better way because browser also works excellent for valid code (Fawny. 2004).
World Wide Web Consortium (W3c) provides mark-up validation service to point out the error and the detail about the particular error line by line. When the web page displays the contents in an irrelevant way instead of locating errors throughout the code page of web site, W3c validation service saves time and ensures easy tracking of errors with a suitable solution to fix the errors (Christopher and Nicklas, 2009). However, web validation makes the web page layout appear correctly, which makes the pages accessible for other devices and search engines to index web pages on top but improper coding or not using web validation may not realise the potential of the web. As the website home page validation survey conducted on 745 web sites by SEO Consultancy Directory concluded the average error rate to be 49.78% and average warning rate to be 21.89% in all home pages of web sites (SEO Consultants Directory, 2010).
The website is a good information resource to share knowledge among people across the world from different cultures or regions. The accessibility of websites for disabled people really shaped the new era of web technology. Thus for easy availability and long term visibility of web contents at a lower cost a web design should follow web standards. Furthermore, web standards play a vital role in accurate web page designing and realisation of the true potential of the web. This report critically analyses every aspect of web design. With a good web accessibility approach, websites would be accessible not only to the general population but also to people with disabilities. Furthermore, device independent and backwards compatibility web standards also play a crucial role for good presentation of web contents without the awareness of particular product compatible issue. Similarly web validation standard validates or checks the accuracy of web codes written for web page design. So the website should be accessible to other alternate devices (Mobile and PDA) rather than the desktop. The future of website accessibility can therefore be seen as a transition from text to symbol/sign format to include users with learning disabilities.