Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


A New Direction and a New Project

By Aaron Gustafson | February 2nd, 2010 | Filed in Education, Outreach, Small Business Outreach, Training, WaSP Announcement

In an effort to increase adoption of web standards, we’re going to try something new.

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A lot of you are probably wondering where the WaSP of the late ’90s or even the early ’00s has gone. Where are the actions? Where is the advocacy? Who should we be mad at today?

The truth is that this organization is evolving. For the last two years, a large amount of our focus has been placed on education, realized in our creation of the InterAct curriculum framework and the birth of the Open Web Education Alliance. With the lion’s share of our talent and energy devoted to these efforts, things have been noticeably quiet on this blog, but that’s not an excuse…we can and should be doing more to promote the understanding and use of web standards. After all that’s what we were formed to do.

For the last two or three years, WaSP’s relevance has definitely diminished. With a few exceptions, browsers are doing a darn good job of promoting standards. Techniques we championed, such as Unobtrusive JavaScript and Progressive Enhancement, have become engrained in the methodology of many great web agencies and in-house web teams. In many ways, it seems WaSP has won the war for web standards, but has it really? There are still a ton of small web companies and small to mid-sized businesses building websites with little or no regard for cross-browser /cross-device compatibility. Inaccessible sites and applications, especially in this age of Ajax, seem to pop up every few seconds.

These projects have been put together by web designers and developers we’ve never reached and, for the last few years, we’ve been trying to figure out how to change that. Sure, our education effort is a logical means of teaching the next generation of web designers and developers to do things the Right Way™, but what of the practicing professionals who either have not been exposed to web standards or have been reluctant to upgrade their skill set? How do we reach them?

One way we hope to move this group in the right direction is by doing an end-run around them in reaching out to small businesses.

Small businesses drive our national economies and are responsible for millions of websites worldwide. Of course, most small businesses don’t know (or even want to know) about the technical aspects of web standards, but they do want to know what will save them money and help them run their businesses more efficiently.

As the first project in our small business outreach effort, WaSP will be developing a resource to be used when interviewing individuals and teams to do web work. The focus of this effort will be a series of questions that, when asked of applicants, will help a small business determine whether or not they have the skills necessary to build a modern website. Each question be coupled with background on the associated topic that outlines why it is important and tips for determining how well the question was answered.

Our goals for this project are two-fold:

  1. To support small businesses by protecting them from bad developers and making sure they get the best websites possible; and
  2. To expose individual designers and small web shops to web standards when they go out to bid on projects in hopes that they will choose to upgrading their skills in order to continue getting work.

In order to make this project a success, we need your help. Whether you are interested in helping us collect and organize the content or are keen to promote the resource once it’s complete, we want you to be involved. If you can lend a hand, please say so in a comment on this message and I will be in touch at the beginning of next week.

Your Replies

#1 On February 2nd, 2010 12:16 pm