Building on Open Standards More Crucial Than Ever


The rumor mills are turning, and what they are saying is that Internet Explorer 8 could well be the last iteration of Internet Explorer to be released by Microsoft. Despite the fact that this is hardly validated information, the idea has been met with excitement from some groups of Internet users. Indeed, this appears to be especially the case for the FOSS, or Free and Open Source Software community.

The reason behind the glee is probably Internet Explorer's generally broken implementation of Web standards. From my personal experience, I have come across many situations in which Web pages are programmed to accommodate or even depend on specific Internet Explorer bugs or idiosyncrasies. Despite massive improvements over the last few iterations of Internet Explorer, it is still not uncommon to come across sites or Web-based GUIs of appliances that will only work properly with Internet Explorer.

In the report at TechNewsWorld, one blogger sums up the situation for the FOSS crowd. He notes:


"For Linux users this will be truly wonderful news, as the reason why many Web pages don't work correctly to this day on Linux is IE and their hobbled page designs."

So what lesson can we learn here that pertains to small and medium-sized businesses?

In a short series of posts two weeks back on SMB and the Web, I outlined the reasons SMBs should take to the Web, and went on to some common design mistakes companies make when setting up their Web sites, ending off with tips on how to succeed in creating a Web site.

It is against this backdrop that I would like to emphasise the importance of adhering to open standards. Whatever Web-based sites your SMB is investing in, be it a new Web site or an in-house CMS, be sure to specify conformance to proper CSS and HTML standards. It would be erroneous to instead cater to specific Web browsers, regardless of their current popularity and market penetration.

This will ensure that the site that you just ploughed your money into will continue working correctly, even if Microsoft never releases an Internet Explorer 9.