The Importance of Standards Compliance and Accessibility

The aim of this article is to underline the importance of standards compliant web pages in promoting usability, compatibility, and accessibility – therefore allowing equal opportunity and equal access to content for all.

A History of Non-Compliance

When Netscape lost the "Browser Wars" in April 2002, Internet Explorer was in complete dominance of the web browser market – with a 96% share (source: For web developers at the time, this meant that designing for Internet Explorer was all that mattered. The dominance of a single web browser led to a disregard for standards compliance.

  • Accessibility & usability problems when sites were accessed using other browsers.
  • Decreased efficiency due to increased file sizes, and website code not following a standard set of rules
  • Misuse of HTML as a design tool

The Benefits of Standards Compliance

The number of different ways to access the internet are increasing. Some of the less common user agents include:

  • Mobile phones
  • Televisions
  • Text-mode browsers
  • Text-to-speach synthesisers
  • Braille browsers
  • Robots (such as search engine spiders)

Standards compliance can be seen as a way to "future-proof" a website. New browsers will still correctly render websites constructed using past standards.

In the United Kingdom and Australia, accessibility is the law. The implementation of standards is a vital step towards accessibility. Accessibility benefits those with and without disabilities.

The use of standards is the only way to ensure that a website is accessible by all visitors, no matter how they access the web. By ensuring accessibility you are not neglecting any of your potential visitors.


Adherence to standards = a big step towards a functional, compatible, and accessible website.

Further Reading