Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

En plus des versions anglaise et chinoise, l’article est désormais également disponible en français. Merci Armony

In early October I was lucky enough to spend some time in China talking to web professionals and students alike about web standards and their current status. It was an interesting couple of weeks that really opened my eyes to what the challenges are when following best practices. What hit me most is that those who support standards are a small and often isolated voice with little or no resources in Chinese to help back up or explain why we need standards and what the benefits are. Here I give a broad overview of what I learnt, challenges and hopefully some ideas of how we can help improve things.

Please do leave a comment if you have any suggestions, thought or insights. I’d also like to expand on the list of resources below so if you have any then post links and I will update the list.

Market forces

In the main those drivers that we see supporting web standards in some European countries, Australia and the States almost act as the opposite in China. There is no legal requirement to make your website accessible and market forces don’t seem to provide a significant enough push. Market forces is an interesting one. I’ve long held that the business case around web standards is essential even in a country that has a legal requirement for sites to be, for example, made accessible. The reasoning for this is that a site owner may be aware they legally have to make a site accessible but unless they see the direct benefit to them they may not implement accessibility properly and instead merely opt to do the bare minimum that needs to be done to comply with the law.

Currently in China there is a weak business case for web standards for a number of reasons. For one Internet Explorer 6 is still the dominant browser with a 95% market share. In general people are tied into using IE6 as most e-commence sites rely on ActiveX to work. This means that there is a trend towards building web pages that only work in IE6 with other browsers given less focus. This is gradually changing however with the rise of alternative browsers such as Opera, Safari and Firefox and Google Chrome. In fact the arrival of Google Chrome did a lot to raise awareness of alternative browsers in the web design community. Developers I spoke to however were very quick to point out that while they may use an alternative browser to IE when building and testing sites they still made heavy use of IE in day to day browsing simply because so many sites depend on it.

This lack of demand for compliant websites is a problem as without the demand there is little incentive for individual developers as well as companies. This may change however, especially as more and more multinationals outsource and base their development work there. With this increasing hopefully the trickle down theory will hold true and multinationals will have an impact on raising knowledge and awareness. When I asked one developer from Microsoft how he got into web standards he said that it was because the company sent over someone especially to train employees in standards based development. This was great to hear and certainly a key channel for advocating web standards. Opera, a long time champion of web standards (disclaimer, I work for Opera but all opinions are my own) are also playing an active role in advocating web standards. It’s at the heart of the development cycle in the Chinese office and the team are also very active in taking part in meet-ups and conferences.

Legal support

While there is a lack of concrete law to support accessible websites it was interesting to see how the Olympics had affected awareness. Public spaces, streets and buildings were much more accommodating and accessible as a result of the games and had done much to make people more aware. This is a start at least and links in well with the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which China ratified in July of 2008. The Convention is the first international legally-binding convention designed to protect and promote the rights of persons with a disability. As China has ratified the Convention they now have to legally support access to information, recreation, employment and education. As Article 9 states:

“State Parties shall also take appropriate measures to…promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet”.

It remains to be seen the direction this will take but at least China is signed up.

Grass roots advocacy

Most exciting of all was the passion and commitment shown by many web professionals I spoke to. There are some influential bloggers in China who are doing great things to promote standards. Notable bloggers include Jun Chen Wu and Xian An AKA Real Lazy. When talking with Xian An he mentioned that back in 2005, when he first started blogging about standards, he was getting around 1000 hits per day. This seemed to prove that there was a desire for people to learn more or, even if they were not researching for information about standards directly, they are landing on his site which was able to introduce standards.

This seemed to make sense as all the developers I spoke to said they they were more or less self taught. As with many countries web development and standards aren’t always covered in university courses so designers and developers have to self teach. One big drawback here however is the lack of resources in Chinese. This is compounded by the fact that while some ebooks exist they can be too expensive to buy for many people.

Probably most exciting while I was there however was the opportunity to take part in the first ever Web Standards Cafe in Beijing sponsored by Opera. The subject was Web Standards and Web 2.0 and focused largely on how we can support web standards in China. Combining grass roots advocacy such as this with BarCamps I think is a positive way forward.

Supporting web standards in China

There a few things that we can start doing now to help promote web standards and accessible web design in China. It may seem like a daunting task but if this is tackled bit by bit there is no reason why standards can’t become more popular. As the old Chinese saying goes “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”. It’s not long ago that in Europe, Australia and the States that we were fighting for basic adherence of web standards, it’s worth while to look back and learn from that experience. For now I see the following as being instrumental to enabling web standards.

  • Translated resources – top of the list has to be the availability of translated and free resources for people to use. Currently many individuals have contributed their time to translating (see the resources section below) but I can’t help thinking that larger organisations should contribute to these efforts. Check out instructions and guidance on translating W3C resources for more information.
  • Multinational responsibility – large international organisations who actively promote and support web standards internationally should do what they can to help support web standards locally in China. This could be done via training in-house, sponsoring free or affordable courses or helping translate resources into Chinese. This should not be restricted to China only.
  • Grass root advocacy – developers understand the challenges and problems developers face better than anyone else. Advocacy through blogs, forums, BarCamps and Web Standards Cafe are always a useful way to go. This may take a different shape in China to suit cultural norms but communication and sharing have to be at the root.

So if you are a blogger, a developer, someone in a position to translate or communicate knowledge within your organisation then share what you have. As I mentioned above please do leave a comment if you have any suggestions, thought or insights. I’d also like to expand on the list of resources below so if you have any then post links and I will update the list.


For a full list of translated standards in Chinese visit the W3C translation page.

Finally, a huge thank you to Jun Chen Wu for the translation.






目前在中国,Web标准因为一些原因在商业上比较脆弱。比如IE6仍然占据浏览器市场份额的95%。大部分依赖于ActiveX控件才能运行的电子商务网站使得人们必须用IE6。这就导致了在制作网页的时候趋向于满足IE6,而很少的关注其他浏览器。伴随着Opera、Safari、Firefox、Google Chrome使用率的上升,这种状况正在逐渐改善。实际上,Google Chrome的问世让Web设计届更加关注浏览器兼容性。开发者们也谈到了,虽然他们经常使用IE外的浏览器来开发和测试网站,但仍需要不时的使用IE,仅因为很多网站依赖于它。



因为没有具体的法律要求网站具备可访问性,我们来看看奥运会对此的影响,很有意思。因为比赛,公共区域、街道和建筑已经具有很好的适应性及无障碍措施,也让人更清醒的意识到这一点。最起码这是一个开始,且中国已与2008年7月批准了联合国 残疾人权利公》。这是历史上第一个保障和促进残障人士权利的国际性法律公约。中国批准了此公约,意味着残障人士在获取信息、康复、就业和教育方面都有了法律依据。如公约第九条所说:




最让人激动的是我从很多Web领域的专家身上看到的激情和责任感。在中国有一些有影响力的博客在推广着Web标准。比如 JunChenRealazy。与Realazy沟通时他提到了2005年时候他第一次开始写关于标准的博客,每天能有接近1000的点击。这或许意味着人们渴望学习更多相关知识,即使他们并不是真正在搜寻这些信息,但他们访问到他的网站,看到了关于标准的介绍。


我最激动的事就是参加了在中国的第一次Web Standards Café。在北京举办,由Opera赞助,主题是Web标准和Web 2.0,基本上讨论集中在在中国我们怎样支持Web标准。结合开发者和BarCamps这种聚会,我认为这是一条正确的道路。



  • 翻译资源- 首要的任务就是有中文的、免费的资源供大家使用、学习。当前很多个人已经投入到翻译中(见最后的资源部分),但我忍不住想那些大公司也应该贡献他们的力量。详见W3C资源翻译介绍和指南
  • 跨国公司的责任 – 大的国际公司在国际范围内推广和支持Web标准,也应该尽他们所能帮助中国的Web标准发展。比如通过内部培训、赞助或者提供课程或者中文化Web标准资源。当然也不仅限于中国如此。
  • 基层的拥护 – 开发者比任何人更了解面对的机遇和挑战。博客、论坛、BarCamp聚会、Web Standards Café 等形式都是比较有效的途径。这可能会根据中国文化的不同采取不同的形式,但本质上一定是交流和分享。



Your Replies

#1 On November 24th, 2008 8:13 am Jedi replied:

The Chinese translation of Dive Into Accessibility (深入親和力) is basically Web Standard in Taiwan, not in China. Web Accessibility Toolbar 2.0 Chinese language version ( ) is also something in Taiwan, not part of China.

#2 On November 24th, 2008 10:55 am Christophe Strobbe replied:

Some other resources:
* CSS Zen Garden in traditional Chinese characters:
* Why tables for layout is stupid: problems defined, solutions offered: in simplified Chinese characters: and in traditional Chinese characters:

#3 On November 24th, 2008 12:07 pm John Dowdell replied:

In Beijing, it’s difficult to get around without climbing significant stairs.

And there are more mobiles than computers.

Thanks for including a tested translation of the English article!

#4 On November 24th, 2008 9:57 pm Yuancheng replied:

Real Lazy is Xian An, not Xia Nan.

#5 On November 24th, 2008 10:29 pm Lewis' Blog » Web 标准在中国 replied:

[...] 文章被发表在 网站,包括中文翻译和英文原文,地址在: [...]

#6 On November 25th, 2008 1:01 am » Web标准在中国 | BoBo Blog replied:

[...] 原文地址: [...]

#7 On November 25th, 2008 1:26 am » Web标准在中国 | CSS Ku replied:

[...] 原文地址: [...]

#8 On November 25th, 2008 5:29 am greengnn replied:


#9 On November 25th, 2008 5:37 am rainaxin replied:

Thank you for attentting the Web Standard,we are the people who are going in for the perfect of the struct and We hope there will more articles about this in order to study!
Thank you very much!

#10 On November 25th, 2008 5:37 am s5s5 replied:


#11 On November 25th, 2008 5:40 am pufen replied:

Worked at Web Standard in shenzhen of chna,hope you discussion about web standards with us to shenzhen!

#12 On November 25th, 2008 5:58 am WaSP Member Henny Swan replied:

Thank you Jedi, Christophe and Yuancheng for your updates – these have all been added.

Thanks to everyone else for your comments as well; it’s good to know that you are all out there supporting standards in China. Feel free to contact me off list if you want to discuss standards further or the possibility of translated resources, it certainly seems there is a demand.

#13 On November 25th, 2008 10:31 am Robin replied:

We need standards for accessibility ,easy to use and easy to maintain. Not a dogma standard.

#14 On November 25th, 2008 1:08 pm 50 Greatest html Web standards in SNS - [米随随] s5s5 replied:

[...] Web standards in China 在十月初的时候,我有幸在中国呆上了一段时间,与Web领域的专家、学生等交流Web标准以及他们的现状。很有意思的几个礼拜,也让我大开眼界。印象最深刻的,在中国推行Web标准的仍在少数,并且通常是孤立无援的,无法实施、无法去解释为何需要标准及标准的价值。所以这里我想写一下我所了解的情况、面对的挑战和一些希望能有效的方法。 [...]

#15 On November 25th, 2008 8:55 pm 则名 replied:

@Robin, 完全赞同你的说法!

#16 On November 26th, 2008 3:53 am April replied:

That’s really headache for web developers ( as me ) to built sites in China, cause we have to make sure the web pages work fine in IE6 ( really hope it die soon! ), and i’m sure that it’s much better for all web developers and users to support Web Standard!
P.S. thanks a lot!

#17 On November 27th, 2008 8:29 pm Web标准在中国 | 数码艺术港湾-上海工艺美术职业学院数码系 replied:

[...] Swan / co-lead of WaSP ILG 译者:JunChen / member of WaSP ILG 原文: 作者:Henny Swan / co-lead of WaSP ILG 译者:JunChen / member of WaSP ILG [...]

#18 On November 29th, 2008 7:51 pm Steven Clark replied:

Henry, I’ve wondered about China, India and other cultures a lot since listening to a Richard Ishida presentation a few years ago about the difficulties of tranlsation and internationalisation. The cost of translation is prohibitive and then there are dialect issues, so I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

That being said, from our angle the economics is there (at least in my opinion) for us to be interested in creating websites in Chinese. What’s that saying – a cent from every person in China and I would be a very rich man. The difficulty that I see is the basic communication and cultural barriers that prevent me from moving towards that market in the first place. Because everything, in my world, has cost – including time and research. And volunteerism has it’s limits.

As an interesting note, Chinese is now the second most spoken language in Australia (in general terms) so we do have the resources here and the technical experience. The key would be to push the convergence of culture and communication in western countries with chinese speaking web standards advocates. i’m not sure how many of these are blogging in multiple languages, or translating resources.

And, at the heart of me, I still want that 1 cent from everyone in China. :)

#19 On November 29th, 2008 7:57 pm nortypig » Blog Archive » Web Standards in China replied:

[...] Swan discusses Web Standards in China on the Web Standards Project. With 95% of users working with IE6 and most ecommerce sites reliant [...]

#20 On November 30th, 2008 4:38 am Working for International Web Standards : replied:

[...] Swan on the Web Standards Project (WaSP) site this week posted a thought provoking article on Web Standards in China. It’s easy to get caught up in the mental box that everyone in the world is of Anglo origin, [...]

#21 On December 3rd, 2008 5:07 am Henny replied:

Hi Steven,

Really interesting what you’re saying about talking to people from China that live in Australia as a stepping stone to localisation and internationalisation of sites reaching out to mainland China. Makes a lot of sense to use resources and understanding that is on your doorstep. I wonder if there may be subtle differences in what people based on Australia may say in comparison to people in mainland China? Having Chinese so widely spoken is a definite plus.

I noticed your article about working with International Web Standards, really good and again, some great insight and a great read.


#22 On December 3rd, 2008 8:04 am Web standards in China | Brass Blogs Web Design replied:

[...] In early October I was lucky enough to spend some time in China talking to web professionals and students alike about web standards and their current status. It was an interesting couple of weeks that really opened my eyes to what the challenges are when following best practices. What hit me most is that those who support standards are a small and often isolated voice with little or no resources in Chinese to help back up or explain why we need standards and what the benefits are. Here I give a broad overview of what I learnt, challenges and hopefully some ideas of how we can help improve things. read more » [...]

#23 On December 5th, 2008 2:38 am Findings 12.05.08 | 8164 replied:

[...] article on the awareness when designing for international audience. His article was prompted by Henny Swan’s. The example he used happens to be on China, a country I’m quite familiar [...]

#24 On December 7th, 2008 6:32 am Armony replied:

Thanks a lot for your article. This is a subject I am really interested in and it is not very easy to find information about that.

I made a translation of your article into French on my blog, anybody can use it if needed.

#25 On December 8th, 2008 9:02 am WaSP Member Henny Swan replied:

Many thanks to Armony for the translation – much appreciated. I’ve added it to the post as a translation.

If anyone else would like to translate it by all means go ahead, the more the better. Just let me know and I’ll update the original post.


#26 On December 9th, 2008 6:02 am 中国的Web标准现状 » china-amb replied:

[...] 原文: Filed in 前台设计 « Fedora 10下用Yum安装Apache+PHP+MySQL环境 [...]

#27 On December 24th, 2008 8:52 am SEO replied:

I enjoyed reading your article concerning what bloggers and others are doing in China to promote web standards. Thanks for the list of resources.

#28 On December 29th, 2008 8:43 pm Max Design - standards based web design, development and training » Some links for light reading (30/12/08) replied:

[...] Web standards in China [...]

#29 On December 29th, 2008 9:58 pm tee replied:

I’d been paying attention to Web Standards in China since 2005. A lost case and rather depressing situation I would say. The mass as a whole just don’t have that type of mindset to care, I also think that their advanced mobile phone culture has attributed to it.

To me, web standards and accessibility are based one one principle: “people oriented” with Laozi’s philoshopy – 以人为本. It’s ironic that the Chinese communist party’s core principle is also based on “people oriented” – 以人为本.

Despite this, a small group of web developers do care and understand the importance of Web Standards. Speaking of Web Standards in China, a big credit should go to (蓝色理想) – one of it’s forum is a Mecca of web standards movement. There are many fine web developers in China do care, and I humbly think you Western web developers should give them lots of credit and encouragement for the reason that they lack the resources and often time have to learn the knowledge second hand or rely on bad translations from online translation tools.


#30 On December 30th, 2008 3:28 am Peter Van Dijck’s Guide to Ease » Blog Archive replied:

[...] Web standards in China. [...]

#31 On February 2nd, 2009 10:36 am WEB标准在中国(转载) - 好吃分一半 replied:

[...] 作者:Henny Swan / co-lead of WaSP ILG 译者:JunChen / member of WaSP ILG 原文: [...]

#32 On February 6th, 2009 12:55 am Web标准在中国 | 一直在努力 - 园子的博客 replied:

[...] 原文: 相关日志网站布局设计原则WEB标准的一些常见问题如何向web标准过渡如何结构化HTMLDIV布局和table布局的区别 如果你是第一次来这儿,欢迎订阅 [...]

#33 On February 11th, 2009 2:07 am Mark Stanton replied:

Hi Henny

Over the past couple of months a number of people from Gruden have been busily translating articles and tutorials into Chinese & Portuguese. These translations are available at and a bit of background at Hopefully there will be more coming soon.

Thanks for the inspiration.


#34 On February 11th, 2009 9:29 pm Web标准在中国(转) | Raselion replied:

[...] 作者:Henny Swan / co-lead of WaSP ILG 译者:JunChen / member of WaSP ILG 原文: [...]

#35 On February 20th, 2009 6:41 am WaSP Member Henny Swan replied:

Hi Mark, this is great, thanks for letting us know. I’m working on adding a translations page to the site so will check out your links and see about adding them there.

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