KillerSites Blog

The Web Standards Lie: How the Web Standards movement has gone too far.

February 24, 2005

People have gone a little ‘cucu for coco-pops’ when it comes to the Web Standards.

The Web Standards zealots have taken a specification (that was created to serve as a guide for browser manufactures,) and made it into a set of ‘holy commandments’ for web designers.

This ‘movement’, that is largely based on false and erroneous claims; claims that have caused counted countless wasted hours, and has brought many web designers to tears … and all for little to no practical benefit.

The Web Standards are a great thing … it is the Web Standards movement that has gone way to far – and to the benefit of who I wonder?

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This is just the first in a series of articles that will reveal the truth about this mess.

I will challenge (and disprove) the (supposed) advantages of zealous adherence to the Web Standards.

Don’t get me wrong, I AM NOT saying:

  • That you should use browser specific features.
  • That you should break basic rules of coding.
  • To not use CSS – rather I am saying to use it when it makes sense…

My position is about temperance, common sense and keeping your eye on the ball … read on, and all will be revealed.

Silly nerds, the Web Standards are for browsers!

As I just said, the Web Standards are for browser manufactures and not for web designers. Much to the contrary (to what Web Standards zealots think,) the competent web designer’s TRUE guiding ‘standard’ should actually be the browsers that people are using!

Wow! What radical thought … that we should pay attention to the ‘reality in the field’ and not some ivory-tower specification.


This is how it should work:

  1. The Web Standards sets the …uh the standards.
  2. The browsers implement the Web Standards – they have a hard time doing this it seems…
  3. Web Designers build websites according to browser capabilities.

Like in the military, the chain of command must be respected, else the system breaks down.

In web design, (if the chain of command is not respected,) what results is the appearance of dozens of hacks to compensate for the poor judgement of those who have ignored the chain of command.

Let’s just hope a bunch of nerds don’t try to break the chain of command… wait a minute! It has already happened! Crap!



The Web Standards have yet to be properly implemented in the majority of the browsers BEING USED – namely Internet Explorer. It is just plain silly to waste even a moment of time trying to shoe-horn your websites into pseudo compliance of the Web Standards.

Note: I’ve edited out a part of this post that was off topic and an admittedly weak argument about floats and the meaning of semantics etc … That being said, I still hold my initial position.

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In my next article, I will answer each of the arguments made in support of Web Standards based design:

Part 2: The Web Standards Myth’s Debunked

BTW: I am not the only one who has seen this: Mystical belief in the power of Web Standards, Usability, and tableless CSS.

Stefan Mischook