Well, the simple answer is to certainly follow W3C standards. But to those not savvy in the world of websites, what does this esoteric guideline mean exactly? According to the www.w3.org website:
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web
In other words, W3C standardises the internet and provide best practice. It makes the worldwide web a much friendlier place for users and agencies (like our good selves) and furthers the main goal of the internet to enable more effective human communication, commerce and opportunities to share knowledge.
There are a plethora of reasons why meeting the W3C standards is a good idea, from data binding to tracking protection but I’ll not go too deep into all the details. The main benefits to compliance with W3C are search engine optimisation (SEO) and accessibility.
We all know that we want good SEO. Not everyone is sure what it is or how it works but they know that it is a good thing for their company. This isn’t a blog about SEO so I won’t drill down into that subject but I will impasse a golden nugget of info to you: if your website is not W3C compliant then it is much more difficult for the search engines to find your site and also index it. This doesn’t just apply to Google (although that should be reason enough!); it goes for the others such as Bing, Ask and Yahoo! too.
So when the bots from these engines search your website they look for certain things. If your website is according to W3C standards, they can be found much easier, you get more quality enquiries from your search rankings and more money coming through the site. Everyone’s a winner!
This topic covers two aspects. The first is user accessibility. It is important that your users are able to access your website from every browser, on every device at any time. Otherwise, you are cutting out an audience that may want to use your fantastic product/service! Following W3C standards will ensure that your website has all the correct code in the standard format so the browsers have no problem displaying it. Accessibility also means that users that have disabilities (like poor vision) are able to still get the information from the website that they need.
The second aspect of accessibility is from the coding perspective. Developers need to follow a standard structure to avoid a spaghetti effect with the code. Again, this allows the search engines to trawl the site much easier but it also means that if another developer (apart from the ones that built your website) needs to work on your website, life will be a lot easier for them too. If all developers have a standard to follow then uniformity prevails and all is good for the World Wide Web.
So, in conclusion, the W3C standards were implemented for a reason and to ignore them would not be wise. If you are thinking about having a website built, check with your developers to see what they are going to do to implement this.