Web Coding Standards: What You Need to Know

Created by the World Wide Web consortium (W3C), web coding standards are technical guidelines and specifications for building website and other web applications. These standards define an open web platform that helps web designers/developers to create rich and interactive applications for the diverse range of devices.

In today’s post, we will look at web coding standards, why you should choose to design using standards and how the same standards can affect the website in terms of future development and business in general. Enjoy and please remember to share your thoughts at the end :).

Web Design and Application Standards

This section outlines the standards for developing web pages and applications, otherwise (and informally) known as WebApps.


At the core of every web page, you will find HTML and CSS. The former provides structure for web pages and the latter provides visual and aural layout. To flesh out the foregoing statement, HTML uses markup (elements, tags etc) to construct the skeleton of any page. On the other hand CSS, allows you to define colors, fonts and website layouts among other things. HTML5 and CSS3 are the latest versions of HTML and CSS. You can learn more about HTML5 and CSS3 standards at W3schools. XHTML is another form of HTML that uses XML (Extensible Markup Language) to add a bit of a twist. W3C provides detailed specifications for HTML/CSS and XHTML.

JavaScript Standards

JavaScript is used to add a degree of dynamism to web pages. This language helps developers to create programs that run when a page is loaded or the user triggers an event. Have a look at the ECMA standards that govern developers working with JS documents.


W3C has technologies and provides guidelines that help web designers to “…enable and enhance the representation of an idea or feeling, in order to reach the web site user.” In other words, the World Wide Web Consortium provides standards that govern visual representation of ideas. You will find guidelines for all types of graphics including photos, maps, diagrams, blueprints, line art and charts among other image forms. Learn more at W3C.


It’s your responsibility as a web designer to create web applications that are universally accessible. Or as W3C puts it:

The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability.

W3C provides standards that help developers to build web applications that are accessible to users with a wide range of cognitive, movement, hearing and sight ability.

Audio and Video

Sound, music and moving pictures can greatly enhance the user experience (UX) of any website. W3C provides you with the specifications for correctly embedding and rendering audio and video media on any website. Discover more at W3C.


If you overlook the needs of people culturally different from you, you will only create web technologies that present barriers to many people around the world. W3C knows this very well and offers internationalization web standards that will enable you to author web applications that are accessible and useful to more people around the globe.


Privacy is a major concern in the online world. Users are transmitting or storing personal information on web systems at all times. As such, it is important to have guidelines that help users to keep personal info private. Learn more about privacy standards at W3C.

Web Architecture Standards


Web architecture involves a number of principles and technologies that support the web including HTTP and URIs. The World Wide Web Consortium provides detailed standards that provide guidance around specific issues such as:

Semantic Web Standards

Semantic web technologies help developers to build data stores on the web, put together libraries and define rules for handling the data. W3C provides guidelines for:

  • Linked Data – This is the sort of data you will find in a database. It is facilitated by technologies such as OWL, SKOS, SPARQL and RDF.
  • Vocabularies – It’s possible (and quite important) to add additional meaning to data, and you can use technologies such as OWL (used to construct vocabularies) and SKOS (used to build knowledge organization systems).
  • Vertical Applications – To boost collaboration, development, innovation and research through the use semantic web technologies, the World Wide Web Consortium works with stakeholders from different industries. This allows technologists to bridge various forms of information across institutions.
  • Query – Where you find a database, you will find a query. What is a query? It is a technology or protocol that developers use to retrieve data from databases. According to W3C, “SPARQL is the query language for the semantic web.”

Other W3C Web Coding Standards

W3C provides further specifications for:

  • Browsers and authoring tools – Guidelines governing web browsers and authoring tools
  • Web of Services – If you’re familiar with enterprise software, then you must know a thing or two about Web of Services or rather message-based design. Web of Services depends on technologies like HTTP, SOAP, XML, SPARQL and WSDL among others.
  • Web of Devices – With more and more users taking to mobile devices to access the web, W3C is working hard to enable web access anytime, anywhere, using any device. Web of Devices standards provide the guiding principles for mobile web, multimodal access, voice browsing as well as web and TV browsing.

Why Do We Need Web Standards?

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Do we really need web standards? How do we, as web designers/developers, stand to benefit from adhering to the recommended web standards? Let’s look at some benefits of using the best web coding standards:

  • Website development is simplified when designers follow web standards
  • Web standards help make the internet a better place for developers and users alike
  • Using web standards guarantee browser compatibility
  • Websites that follow web standards are search engine friendly
  • Web standards provide stability in web application development. The specifications are crafted with forward and backward-compatibility in mind. This means your website will work in old and new browsers

More Resources…

This post is like a teaser and provides just but a quick sneak peek at W3C web coding standards. To learn more about web standards, I will direct your attention to the following resources:


Any thoughts? Please share with us in the comment section below!

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About The Author
Freddy Muriuki
Freddy Muriuki

Freddy is a WordPress theme reviewer at WP Theme Raves, writer, web developer and founder of Vista Media Enterprises, a nice place dedicated to the online entrepreneur looking to boost conversion rates using effective web content.