Post Web Standards

PWG DesignEveryone in the Web community has their niche. That thing, or for some who make the rest of us look dumb, things that they are really good at. For some it is information architecture, or social network marketing, or front-end CSS/(X)HTML layout, or database engineering, and others it is Flash Action Scripting, or back-end Ruby on Rails development. The list could really go on and on, but you get the point.

What’s strange is that you get the point, but many of these people who are highly skilled in a particular field don’t get it. They are still striving to be the “Web Master”; Jack of all trades in the Web design/development industry. They want to be all things to all people; the one-stop-design-shop, and they don’t want to say, “That’s not my expertise. Let me recommend you to someone else.” In some cases I think it is pride (not being able to admit they aren’t perfect), and in other cases I think it is fear (afraid they may miss out on a job, and what if another one doesn’t come along). Whatever their reason, they need to recognize that everyone’s skills are needed for developing on the Web today.

Over the last few years there has been a large group of people pushing for standards in the Web community. There has been a coming-together of Web designers, developers, strategists, browser software makers, and many others who are interested in working together to push the capabilities of the Internet forward, and the limitations of the Web out. Theses people have lead the way to a cleaner Web, what many people call Web 2.0. It may mean different things to different people, to some it is a design style now, but to most it is a philosophy; a way of thing about the Web and it’s future. It has evolved from a drive to create some standards.

What is different today is that for many design companies they have done everything possible to comply with these standards, and have now realized that because the Web has always been a hack, keeping up with the standards will often be to the sacrifice of common sense business. There is a new movement; a post standards-based movement. Designers and developers recognizing that although it is important to the future of the Web, a site, or portions thereof, cannot not always be strictly standards compliant. There needs to be some business sense in the design and development process, and sometimes sacrifices need to be made in meeting standards so that the business goals can be met.

For many, this is a fact that can be hard to swallow. Like Jeff Croft said, “not being standards compliant will not hurt anything but standards-purest people’s pride when they are viewing the source [code] of a site.” But this is where we recognize our need for the skill sets of others. Whenever compromises need to be made we can always benefit from other experts to minimize what the compromises are. This is the post Web standards era. Purest, helping strategist, helping marketer, helping businesses grow. After all, that is the bottom line. Isn’t it?

  • Chris

    First time reader and frist time poster. Wonderful topic here. Really hit home for me in the Jack of All Trades. I see now that for me it was the fear of loosing the job. But reallt, great things can be done with a great time so I need to find my team.

  • Harry Roberts

    “In some cases I think it is pride (not being able to admit they aren’t perfect)”

    Spot on! That’s why I am trying to learn all sorts. Great post! Great site.


  • Chris Vincent

    In my case it’s not so much I want to do everything, but the fact that people are only able to see my designs, and therefore only see me as a designer. I have to continually say that if they’re going to want a design from me it may not look as good as they may first think… because well… I’m truly a PROGRAMMER.

    Many people still don’t understand that.

  • Paul

    Yo. Nice topic Dawg. I totally agree with you. I’m primarily good at front end coding and graphic making, but through the years, I’ve chosen to learn some PHP and Actionscript, and a slew of crap that really bores the hell out of me. I just want to make static, simple web sites because that, to me, is fun. I CAN do dynamic sites built with PHP and SQL databases, but it’s utterly boring as hell. So I’m about to create a small business that makes only static, small sites. I’m not in it for money, I already have a day job, this will be because it’s my fun hobby. Also, I’ll make a little extra money.

  • Anthony

    Yea this hit home for sure. I know where my weaknesses are (when it comes to being the jack of all trades, which i’m not) and therefore I work to get better at the things that interest me. But over there years, I’ve been adding to my contact list the people that are damn good at the things that I suck at like programming, and flash scripting and all that jazz. I’ve been in my comfort zone just straight designing and coding xhtml for sometime and I love it – Outsource, and share – the product will wind up being way better in the end.

    But that doesn’t mean being well-rounded isn’t appreciated, because that’s just common sense.

  • Joe

    Fantastic work Jon! Is it safe to say that you’ve learned this one from experience? (wink, wink).

    Interestingly, this is the same reason that the most solid, consistent, browser independent medium Flash will not leave, but will get stronger. We’ll see the useless stuff ditched as the result of natural selection, and the interactive tidbits will become more valuable. Indeed, it’s not the perfect medium, but used rightly, just like Web 2.0 standards, it is the appropriate solution when interactivity is highly valued.

  • Funner

    There are so many things to learn to be a Web Master. Many people know programming, but they do not how to design; many are good designers but they do not know so good PHP or ASP…It’s really hard to know all these…

  • Hot Bertaa

    I’d say javascript is the route for interactive sites. I don’t discredit flash, but it currently isnt good enough for large scale websites. I see it as good for banners and boutique style sites, but that may change.

  • Joe

    Good point Funner. It’s impossible to be a jack of all trades these days, better to be a specialist in one discipline and do it well. Development & design are really quite different.

    Hot Bertaa, you’re right in one sense. But that wasn’t my point. When interactivity is highly valued, there is nothing better at the moment. Also, ActionScript 3 and JavaScript are starting to look really, really close to each other. As web 2.0 goes OOP, Flash goes OOP…and the differences become less distinct.