Web Standards Project Relaunches

June 12, 2002

But only if designers and developers understand and “use” web standards. And many simply aren’t doing so.

Thousands of web designers and developers are still using old-school methods that disregard document structure, ignore accessibility, and favor proprietary code over standards such as the W3C DOM. As a result, personal sites, small business sites, and the sites of corporate giants including MSN and Sony continue to frustrate and block access for millions of potential visitors — resulting in ill will, lost revenue, and the possibility of costly litigation initiated by accessibility advocates.

To help site builders and owners grasp and harness the true power of web standards, The Web Standards Project (WaSP) relaunched this week with new members, a new look, new site features, new content, and new initiatives focused on developer education and standards compliance in authoring tools as well as browsers.

“Standards in browsers was half the battle. We didn’t think we’d win,” explained group leader Jeffrey Zeldman. “Now that we have what we asked for, it remains to persuade our peers of the importance and benefits (to themselves, their clients, and the folks who use their sites) of designing and building with web standards.”

In addition to lowering development costs and increasing overall usability, the group points out that the use of web standards can help site owners and builders comply with the demands of web accessibility. Such accessibility is crucial if site owners hope to avoid needlessly losing customers. In addition, under U.S. and other laws, many sites are required to provide full access. Web standards help site owners and builders comply with these laws; proprietary and old-school methods ensure the opposite.

In “Phase 2” of The Web Standards Project, the group has also focused on standards compliance and accessibility in the tools professionals use to design and develop websites. Among its first such initiatives, The WaSP created a Dreamweaver Task Force to work with Macromedia, makers of the market-leading Dreamweaver visual web authoring tool, to help the manufacturer improve its product in this area. The resulting product, Dreamweaver MX, includes nearly all the improvements requested by the WaSP’s Dreamweaver Task Force, and is a clear win for web standards and accessibility.

Founded in 1998, The Web Standards Project is a grassroots coalition of web designers, developers, and users fighting for standards that reduce the cost and complexity of development while increasing the accessibility and long-term viability of any document published on the Web. The group works with browser makers, authoring tool makers, and its peers in the design and development community to deliver the true power of standards to the Web.

The relaunched site is available at http://www.webstandards.org/ and the group’s new mission statement may be read at http://www.webstandards.org/about/. Information about the Dreamweaver Task Force is posted at http://www.webstandards.org/act/campaign/dwtf/. For more information, contact The WaSP at http://www.webstandards.org/about/contact/.

CONTACT: Jeffrey Zeldman of Web Standards Project, +1-212-725-0847, or info@happycog.com, or wasp@webstandards.org.