How web standards to save you time and money


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At the J.Boye conference in Aarhus I was asked to speak about web standards. As this was a busniess audiance I was presenting to, I decided to give a business case as to why you should use standards. Working for the British Museum, I used the British Museum website for case studies and examples.

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  • My name is Philip Poole I work at the British Museum as the Senior web developer Manage all technical work with a small team Includes following web standards
  • British Museum Worlds first public museum Opened in 1753 6 million visits a year Aim to make its collection accessible by the world Use the WWW to help do this: Website – large part of this strategy 28,000 pages 1.5 million records available online
  • Web standards what are they: - Standards have been used throughout history - This is a 13 th Century bronze weight in the form of a lioness, whose weight conforms to the Mesopotamian standard of the time. - standards are used from weights to the internet Image from:
  • When we talk about standards, what are they? The W3C – The World Wide Web consortium publish standards which browsers then (or should implement) – does not always happen. Many standards but I will concentrate on - HTML – how content is marked up - CSS – how the content is shown / presented - Accessibility – making web pages accessible to all people The British Museum uses XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1 People are already starting to use HTML 5 and CSS3 for some project although they are not finalised yet. Also checkout:
  • British Museum use standards In the constrains of our CMS Not religiously To create a website that is 100% standard compliment can result in a high effort (especially in the website is large – like the British Museum’s 28,000 pages and 1.5 million records). However to create a 99% standards compliment website is significantly less effort The last 1% of effort has the highest cost But you still get the benefits of standards without the final 1%. Source code from:
  • What's in a webpage This page could be coded in many different ways and we could produce exactly the same output. However some ways of coding are better than others. Standards is one of the better ways But why use them? Page from:
  • Standards save time and money? But how? Image from:
  • How? In regards to maintenance of a website, you still need to code well, a badly coded standard based website will still have a high maintenance overhead. Even a small organisation will feel the benefits The benefits come from making changes and maintaining the website.
  • Cost of not using standards: Coding a website in standards ensures a firm foundation If you do not have this firm foundation you will find that you have a higher overhead to maintain the website As time goes on this overhead gets higher and tasks take longer Eventually the foundation will crumble and you either replace the website or pay a high cost to fix it
  • Benefits of a standard based website: A standards based website means that the website would have: Good SEO Accessible Work in more browsers Work in mobile phone browsers Also use Open Standards to increase the reach of your content
  • SEO: Increase your placements by Improve your ranking in search engines Through keywords, headers and text Standards with good keywords increase your placement Good accessibility improves the SEO further
  • SEO: Example on British Explore section of approx 5000 objects written for the general public Migrated from an old website before modern web standards existed Pages did not appear in Google or other search engines Migrated the code into a standards format and most objects now appear on the first page of Google’s results Example for the museum page on the left: “Mosaic mask of Tezcatlipoca”, search “Mosaic mask” and the page appears in first 10 results of Google Links:
  • Browsers: There are to may browsers to count (over 50) plus different operating systems including Windows and Mac. We test the website on browsers that 98.6% of our audience use This means we do not test for 1.4% of our audience. 1.4% includes a large amount of different browsers but in small amounts Large amount of effort to test for all of these. Coding with standards mean that the website should work for most other browsers. This is a picture of a page from our Moctezuma exhibition section of the website in FireFox, a browser we test for.
  • This is the same page in Opera, a browser we do not test for. We honestly did not test or change this page to get it working This is because we use web standards. Now if we did not test 1.4% of people may not be able look at our website
  • Browsers: 1.4% of audience is over 12,000 people on If we did not use standards over 12,000 people may not be able to use the website, including buying tickets for the major exhibition of the year.
  • Mobile phones now support browsing the internet Increase use in this especially with the introduction of the iPhone and other high end mobiles (Palm Pre, Nokia etc) This will lead to: New audiences Different content will be required for mobiles Different audience segmentation (younger) The future: More devices supporting the web including: Wii Xbox 360 Set top boxes Standards based websites increase the chance of the website working on these new devices - future proofing your website.
  • From 2008 to 2009 compared to with 2007 to 2008 there are 25% more people using the website. 35,000 people a year compared to 8,000
  • Accessibility: A standards based website means you are well on the way to having an accessible website. You still need to make additional effort to have a completely accessible website. As a standards based, the British Museum website was already on the way for being accessible and while we built the front end we also took accessibility needs into account while coding
  • British Museum aims to make our website accessible to the widest possible audience includes Accessibility British Museum is a government institution so should be accessible including: - screen readers - Cognitive disabilities - motor impairment including keyboard only
  • British Museum had a project to audit the website for: Usability Accessibility Included people looking at the code as well as lab testing. (Cannot recommend lab testing enough.) Reported website was accessible but areas for improvement – but not too much additional work The usability audit and access were very closely aligned in pointing problems out on the website – accessibility testing can be seen as extreme usability testing Now we still need to make further improvements and we see this as a work in progress, for example improve our Collections database interface for instance
  • Also in regards to accessibility, standards based means you can alter the design more easily as well. Got a developer to work on an accessibility style sheet - for example, this will change this page too….
  • - Good for partially sited and people with dyslexia Will be integrating this into the website’s CMS some point in the future.
  • Using standards to increase access the reach of to your content: Very simply this can be with RSS feeds, similar to news feeds on BBC. RSS feeds make it easy for people to be told when there is something new to look at Other people and developers can also use the feeds to show your website information on other websites increasing the reach of your content and increasing audience. British Museum now offers RSS feeds on any page now, change the extension of the page to RSS and you get an RSS feed of all the child pages Now slowly starting to make these available to the public.
  • OpenSearch is an extension of RSS and has allowed us and 9 other museums to create a federated search which is in Beta at the moment. When you search you are searching across all 9 institutions.
  • You could create a website and ignore standards and then try and code good SEO into a website and then test and make sure it works in different browsers and then code to work in mobile browsers. But by making a standards based you have already done most of the work. This therefore means an standards based website saves you time and money and also provides: More traffic More revenue Different audiences
  • Any questions?
  • How web standards to save you time and money

    1. 1. How web standards save you time and money Philip Poole
    2. 2.
    3. 3. HTML HTML 4.01 XHTML 1.0 CSS XHTML 1.1 CSS 2 HTML 5 (future) CSS 2.1 CSS 3 (future) Accessibility Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) WAI-ARIA
    4. 4. Web standards save time and money
    5. 5.   Less code   Increases accessibility   Future proofing   Improved maintenance of code   Still need to code well Even if you are a small organisation
    6. 6. SEO More Browsers Accessible Open Standards Mobile / Devices
    7. 7. Web standards help optimise websites for search engines
    8. 8. 1.4% = 12,000 people a month
    9. 9. Standard based websites will work on more mobiles
    10. 10. 25% more iPhone users this year 35,000 people a year
    11. 11. Standards based websites are more accessible
    12. 12. Aim to make our website available to the widest possible audience
    13. 13.   SEO benefits across whole website   Usability improvements   Won Jodi award for Web accessibility
    14. 14. More traffic More revenue Different audiences Increase reach
    15. 15. Philip Poole http://twitter/ilovenicethings