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.

Skip to comment form

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 Warren Parsons replied:

As a longtime proponent of web standards, I would love to help out on the content side of things in any way I can.

Thank you.

#2 On February 2nd, 2010 12:21 pm Ryan Brunsvold replied:

I’d be happy to help in any way you guys see fit. Adoption of Web Standards was the one of the primary reasons I’ve been able to continue to happily stay in design/development for years now. I’d love to give back in any way I can.

#3 On February 2nd, 2010 12:36 pm Garrett Coakley replied:

This sounds interesting, I’d be interested in helping – to what degree I can’t say yet – but put my name down.

#4 On February 2nd, 2010 1:43 pm Emily Lewis replied:

Aaron – I think this is a brilliant idea and would like to lend some support. I run a monthly AUG for web professionals in New Mexico, and I think I can get some of them involved as well. I look forward to hearing from you.

#5 On February 2nd, 2010 1:56 pm Chris Poteet replied:

Loved to help.

#6 On February 2nd, 2010 1:59 pm Stephanie Hobson replied:

I’d like more info about what would be involved in helping, drop me a line when you start work next week :)

#7 On February 2nd, 2010 2:02 pm John Rainsford replied:

I run a small web design company in Ireland. I will give whatever help I can, count me in.

#8 On February 2nd, 2010 4:04 pm Elaine Nelson replied:

I’m interested, especially in collecting/writing/organizing.

#9 On February 2nd, 2010 4:54 pm Brady J. Frey replied:

I wish you luck, it’s been too quiet on here and yet it’s still a valuable need in our community, especially the designers moving up!

In regards to small businesses (I have many vendors I work with in Property Management), I’d love to see a membership or rule of standards such as AIGA

Although some of us are AIGA members, it really doesn’t associate itself as a web industry, and their technology is often still of the mentality towards ‘flash’ and code-is-not-design (wrongly so I’d say). I’d love to see an associate more modern I can wear with a badge of respect; much like when I handle the Architects we hire for our build outs, who hold LEED certification. I don’t expect them to be LEED geniuses, but I expect them to have a focus on the green industry, and take it seriously.

I will say that more and more, the issue I have are websites and developers/designers teaching standards and publicly ignoring things such as validation, accessibility, and in some cases openly bashing it. In my small nook of designers I manage for my team at &, atleast monthly I’m shown a website or a tutorial site with a professional is bombing said techniques. It seems odd to still have these arguments now a days, but they come up often… unfortunately, I know now solution save debating with them.

So if you need the help, I’d love to help! One thing I was already planning is a huge tech event at our – the focus was to bring in not only our tenants, but our vendors and their vendors, and associates for a few days. Merge the worlds of technology and design, teach, network, and do more. If this is something you’d like to join us for in San Francisco, we were planning on June, and I’d welcome any of your staff! As a trade off, you’d get to meet high tech folks from MS to Google on the IT spectrum of things; both of these worlds would do a great good to collaborate more, they are gatekeepers.

#10 On February 2nd, 2010 10:27 pm Daniel Hendrycks replied:

I might be able to help, there are few small business where I live, of those they do not have sites. Please shoot me a message being more specific in the things you would like me to do.

#11 On February 3rd, 2010 4:10 am Mark Nicholas Wales replied:

I would certainly be interested in helping out – although I’m not sure how much help I’d be, I only started out quite recently.

However, I have been thinking a lot about how people could tell if their website has been poorly made. I thought maybe some sort of automated validator that tests for nested tables, lack of css, inline HTML, and errors on the HTML validator – but I suspect there’d be too many false positives and not enough hits.

I would certainly be keen to help promote the scheme once it’s finished though. I’m part of a network in Sheffield that’s designed to get newly formed businesses in contact and it would be great if there were some way to let them know how to find a good wed-designer.

#12 On February 3rd, 2010 8:51 am Phillip replied:

Hello. I’m a mid-life career change student currently studying HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, AJAX and MySQL along with design and UI concepts. I am very interested in the Small Business Outreach effort that you are developing. My interest is driven by the desire to provide myself with the highest level of education and to eventually provide a line of quality products with strong foundations in standards. As your article states this project will help developers and designers target areas where they are weak. Those that are willing to look at their own practices will not only to survive
today’s market but will thrive in the future.

During the course of my studies, I have considered questions that may be directed my way, in order to determine the level of quality I can provide as a website developer and designer. As those thoughts have only been passive, I have yet to compile a list of these questions. However, I would be willing to share my thoughts if it would help. I would also be very interested in reviewing questions as the project is developed. I have a strong background in customer satisfaction and project management as a Business Systems Analyst. My background may be useful in the review process of the questions as I am very aware that questions asked can easily direct the answer and skew data.

Thanks for your time
Phillip Ballew Sr.

#13 On February 3rd, 2010 8:58 am Alex McGibbon replied:

This sounds like a great project, and I’d like to help out in any way that I can.

#14 On February 3rd, 2010 11:51 am simon r jones replied:

Sounds interesting, we’re currently hiring and have had to think about those sorts of questions. Glad to help

#15 On February 3rd, 2010 12:11 pm Matt replied:

What can I do? Let me know.

#16 On February 3rd, 2010 12:57 pm Phillip Lovelace replied:

I have actually emailed some folks with WaSp lately asking how I could become involved and help out. Although I received no replies, I am highly interested in helping out in any way possible. Content collection, organization, or promotion – sign me up!

I am really looking forward to see WaSp rolling again!

#17 On February 3rd, 2010 1:54 pm Brett Jankord replied:

This sounds rather promising. I’d be interested to help out exposing individual designers to web standards.

#18 On February 3rd, 2010 6:34 pm Phil Pickering replied:

Hi Aaron, I’d love to help the WaSP make this new, exciting project a success — from putting the material together to actively promoting it out in the field when it’s completed.

#19 On February 4th, 2010 12:38 pm Michael Spellacy replied:

I’ve been in this business for twelve years and would love to give back if I can.

#20 On February 4th, 2010 12:40 pm WaSP Member agustafson replied:

Many thanks to those of you who are volunteering to help out. I will be compiling a list of “hand raisers” over the weekend and adding you all to the Basecamp project for this effort. I expect we will get things underway by the middle of next week. Hold tight and thanks again!

#21 On February 5th, 2010 3:28 am Nico De Backer replied:

For sure I’m interested in promoting the resources. I would also be more than happy to do my share of the initial work. Let me know what you need/expect so I can see where I can help out!

#22 On February 5th, 2010 9:42 am Beth Dean replied:

This sounds great! I am one of the organizers for a local group called The Cleveland Web Standards Association, and we’d love to help however we can.

#23 On February 5th, 2010 12:22 pm Michael Arcement II replied:

I would be willing to donate time and talents.

#24 On February 5th, 2010 1:40 pm Paul Drummond replied:

Aaron, I’d be happy to help out with content and promotion. Awareness of web standards is improving in my area, but projects like this are still needed.

#25 On February 7th, 2010 8:34 am Ben Millard replied:

PAS 78 has a list of questions which seem similar in purpose to what you are after. It seems all my bookmarks to PAS78 have become 404s during the past few years. Including the locations WaSP has linked to in the past.

It seems the current download for PAS 78 is here…hope it lasts!

#26 On February 8th, 2010 11:22 am Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-08 – Daniel Koskinen replied:

[...] for teaching-related articles. #A New Direction and a New Project – The Web Standards Project #Just visited @hubtampere . Very interesting concept, a bit pricey though. Still, I hope it takes [...]

#27 On February 9th, 2010 10:51 am WaSP Member agustafson replied:

Thanks again for all of your interest. I have added those of you who expressed interest to our Basecamp project for this endeavor. We’ll continue this discussion there.

@Ben Millard: Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll download the file and if the link goes down again, we may need to host a copy.

#28 On February 9th, 2010 9:37 pm Felipe Plets replied:

Hi Aaron, I`d like to help to support and improve the promotion of web standards.
Specialy for small business, here on Brazil it will be very nice and very useful.

#29 On February 19th, 2010 4:20 am Juan Giordana replied:

I’d be glad to contribute if I can be of any help.

#30 On February 19th, 2010 12:49 pm Karen Norman replied:

I would be very interested in helping collect and organize the content. Cont me in!

#31 On February 22nd, 2010 1:19 pm Phillip Senn replied:

I think this is a wonderful idea.

#32 On February 24th, 2010 4:00 am Fiifi Baidoo replied:

Would be glad to help anyways possible.

#33 On March 1st, 2010 10:31 pm Mike McDonnell replied:

As the owner of a small development company that is always trying to figure out the best development strategies, a place to find best practices is enormously beneficial. I am not sure how I can help, but always open information which will help my companies success. Best of luck to any small business, it is never an easy road for us.

#34 On March 4th, 2010 6:52 pm Shawna Lytle replied:

Please add me to your list of people getting involved in this. I stopped learning about the time AJAX was starting to come on the scene so I’m really behind the times and I fall into that category of people that is currently upgrading my skill set. I’m interested in the interview questions, especially, as a guideline to be able to compete in the workforce. Good stuff here, glad you guys are still around.

#35 On March 7th, 2010 2:21 pm Max replied:

I’m certainly interested. Not sure whether I can contribute something though as my knowledge is not as good as your guys knowledge.

#36 On March 8th, 2010 5:55 am Galini Beach replied:

Well these two goals are indeed vital to new developers and small businesses. I happen to be connected to both as I have a small family business and I’m a new web developer myself. Of course I created my business website but when it comes to find some clients I do not have the power to compete against the sharks. I think the only way these days is get the necessary knowledge to become more or less an expert in a certain field..web development gets to be a burden at some point, I am a graphics artist, developer, marketer and security engineer at the same time..?!

#37 On March 8th, 2010 3:39 pm Randolf Richardson replied:

We need more people involved in preserving basic standards. I am always in favour of these types of activities because they only benefit people in the long-run.

The web sites I create use the most basic HTML with minimal CSS, and most of my sites actually work well in Netscape 5 as well as all the current web browsers, yet in the current web browsers they definitely look better and up-to-date.

Sadly, most web developers ignore this aspect of HTML coding. Hopefully your efforts to preserve standards will make a bigger difference in the long run.

#38 On March 10th, 2010 4:59 am Rak replied:

Great! Really nice to hear that there are still a lot of people who care about web standards. Keep up the good work!

#39 On March 11th, 2010 10:19 am vpi79 replied:

A very wide scientific research program lead in France about nutrition should have better read your advices about browser standards compliance.

Unfortunately, the site is fully written with Adobe Flash, but even worse, it will only support Internet Explorer (on Windows only), Safari (on MacOSX only), and Firefox (on Windows or MacOSX), and refuse to run on more recent but still very valid modern browsers (despite they can fully support Adobe Flash).

So why using a proprietary GUI technology (Flash) if it does even worse than plain HTML/CSS, just to support a site that will only allow filling basic forms (select items in a list, enter a few free-form text if needed, then process to next screen, and a few presentation videos).

The study is very interesting du to its uncommon scale on scientific areas:

Why did they not learn about current web standards? There was absolutely nothing requiring Flash, even for the most modest and antiquited browsers. But they refuse my installation of Chrome, or my alternate installation of Safari (on Windows) : you can’t even subscribe if you don’t have the correct browser. Also, despite I have Windows 7, I don’t have Internet Explorer (and will never want it again).

Why should I use Firefox when I much prefer the much faster (and compliant) Chrome, which causes less hassle for its updates to maintain it secure, and does not need any of the poorly written plugins, and its horrible GUI that takes too much screen space?

You may need then to inform and train scientific research programs, so that they completely ban the services of those webdesigners that produced a so horrible site that does not work with all most famous current webbrowsers.

#40 On March 16th, 2010 8:32 am Jeff Van Campen replied:

I’d definitely be interested in doing whatever I can.

I help organize London Web Standards (, where some of the attendees might be able to offer even more help.

We’d love to promote the curriculum and the Open Web Education Alliance, perhaps having a meeting entirely focused on the subject.

#41 On April 1st, 2010 11:44 am Lee Gilbert replied:

What we really need is some way of enforcing web standards….
But keep up the good work

#42 On April 16th, 2010 5:59 pm Lindsey replied:

I too would love to help with the ‘gospel’ and fully agree that education through to enforcement is the real hurdle.

I actually just started at a utility company and am working with established employees to create / implement site and marketing standards that meet with current market standards. So I growing intimately familiar with this struggle, especially as many of the site management tools I have been encountering at times negate these very principles.

Return to top

Post a Reply

Comments are closed.

All of the entries posted in WaSP Buzz express the opinions of their individual authors. They do not necessarily reflect the plans or positions of the Web Standards Project as a group.

This site is valid XHTML 1.0 Strict, CSS | Get Buzz via RSS or Atom | Colophon | Legal