Webstandards back in perspective

Sometimes you get the feeling all web standards discussion is getting a bit esoteric. XHTML versus HTML or Atom versus RSS discussions, for example are all great in the name of science, but let's hop back to the real world for a second.

Last week I published a website called Rijnwoude Digitaal. It contains virtually every website in the municipality with a .nl or other paid domain. Rijnwoude is a small municipality, it has only 18.883 inhabitants.

Still, I managed to find 182 websites. But here comes the sad bit. Only six of the websites adhere to web standards. Of those six, all are developed by my company Plerion. All remaining websites are hopeless frontpage, tag soup, frame contraptions, technically equivalent to 1996-era design.

Anne once mused whether we should continue to talk about web standards as such, as they are only W3c recommendations anyway. While he does have a point technically, sadly, If they were to rise above the academic goo, the web would probably be a better place. The World Wide Web consortium as a standards organization like ISO would make a lot of sense.

I think the fact that in one municipality, only 3%% of websites is ‘standards’-compliant, says a lot about the current web-scape. If you extrapolate this, you could probably conclude that only about 6%% of Dutch websites have some resemblance to web standards.

Sometimes it’s good to remember only 9%% of the American population knows about arcane technologies like RSS. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The standards movement has to reach these lower, though mainstream levels (small business, non-profit, etcetera) before we can accept our practices as “everyone should know this by now”.