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Rockin’ a Blue Beanie for Web Standards

Nov 28, 2008

Published in

Emily wearing a blue beanie

Today is the 2nd annual Blue Beanie Day to promote the awareness of web standards and accessibility. Of course, as a self-professed standardista, I just had to participate.

Join the Cool Kids

The event is the entire day today (November 28), so it isn't too late for you (my four beloved readers) to get involved as well. All you have to do is:

  1. Get your hands on a Blue Beanie (blue hat or cap; black or grey is acceptable).
  2. Take a photo of yourself wearing the Blue Beanie.
  3. Add your photo to the Flickr Blue Beanie Day group.
  4. Switch your Facebook profile photo to your new Blue Beanie picture (and maybe your other social network profiles if you want to get really crazy).
  5. Promote Blue Beanie Day in your blog and tell all your friends, including those on Facebook who you should invite to the event.

Embrace, Implement & Promote Web Standards

But even more important than the folly of Blue Beanie Day is the cause: web standards.

What Are Web Standards?

At the most superficial level, web standards are commonly–agreed–upon guidelines for using XHTML, CSS, Javascript, etc. that ensure web sites are more accessible and more usable.

More specifically, the "holy grail" of web standards is:

  • Valid (X)HTML and CSS
  • Semantic markup and styles
  • Separation of content/structure, presentation and behavior
  • Works in any browser

All to help make web sites more accessible and usable.

But, It's 2008. Do We Even Need to Talk About It?


Just over a month ago, Opera announced results from its MAMA study, which found that only 4.13% of web sites crawled passed W3C validation.

And this is just validation. Who knows how many sites use <table>s for layout, obtrusive JavaScript, non-semantic markup, etc.

I do know that there isn't a single day I spend online that I don't see at least two sites that follow one or more of these non-standards practices.

Resources to Get You Started & Keep You Going

The web being what it is, there are oodles of free resources on practicing web standards. Here are a few I always recommend:

And here are some of my favorite books that promote web standards:

The Book That Changed My Life

But the ultimate resource on web standards is a book that (and I'm not exaggerating) changed my life: Designing With Web Standards.

Written by the hero to standardistas everywhere, Jeffrey Zeldman, this book is a must have for any web designer or developer (and the inspiration for Blue Beanie Day). It covers:

  • Standards-based design (duh)
  • Best practices
  • Browser advances
  • Search engine friendliness/findability
  • CSS layouts
  • Accessibility
  • And more

I hear Jeffrey is working on the 3rd edition, so it might be prudent to wait for that release.

Blatant Self-Promotion

Or you can check out a presentation I recently did on web standards.

At BarCamp Albuquerque 3 this past September, I presented Web Standards Primer.

This presentation covers the very basics of web standards, as well as the benefits. Not to mention, it uses Eric Meyer's standards-based slide show system.

Make Every Day a Blue Beanie Day

For me, every day is a Blue Beanie Day. I live and breathe web standards. I annoy my friends, family and colleagues with my "soapbox" ramblings about web standards. Web standards are always at the forefront of my mind when I take on any web-related project.

But it isn't just because I'm a standardista. I believe that talking and writing about standards is just as important as designing and developing sites that adhere to them.

Enthusiasm and passion are contagious. I'm happy to be a carrier monkey.

Balance Is Essential

That said, standards are a goal, not an absolute.

Given time and resource constraints — or, in my case, an employer who doesn't give a rat's ass about standards or accessibility — reaching the aforementioned "holy grail" of web standards isn't always possible.

And there are issues with some facets of web standards, including lack of browser support and slow specification timelines.

But these aren't reasons to not support web standards.

These are reasons to balance idealism with reality, all the while promoting and following web standards as much as possible so that someday this discussion won't be necessary.

Until that day, I'll be wearing a Blue Beanie.

HTML5 Cookbook

Interested in HTML5?
Get the Cookbook!

I was a contributing author for HTML5 Cookbook, available for sale on Amazon! Get yours now! (I hear chapters 1, 4 and 5 are particularly good.)

P.S. Don't forget my book Microformats Made Simple is still for sale!


Share the Love

Toby's Gravatar

Toby opines:


There seems to be a slight error on your primer presentation - The very first slide runs over my screen, reading - “Web Standards Pri”.

I am using FF3 on XP.

Emily's Gravatar

Emily responds:


Toby - Thanks for mentioning the rendering issue. It is likely tied to the font size, which I optimized for display on the MacBook I used to give the presentation.

If you are having issues reading the content due to CSS font size issues, just disable CSS and you can get to the core of the information.

Heather's Gravatar

Heather opines:


I didn’t get time to run out and buy one so I photoshopped myself one on - next year I need .

P.S Love your blog!

Teh Dude's Gravatar

Teh Dude opines:


Your site does not pass the CSS validation.  You don’t seem to practice what you preach ;)


Emily's Gravatar

Emily responds:


Teh Dude - Thanks so much for pointing out the two minor errors in my CSS. Forgot to validate after a few additions the other day.

Should all be kosher for you now ;)

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The Coolest Person I Know

Emily Lewis

Yeah, that would be me: .

I'm a freelance web designer of the standardista variety, which means I get excited about things like valid POSH, microformats and accessibility. I ply my trade from my one-person design studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106 USA.

A Blog Not Limited is my personal blog where I pontificate about web design, web standards, semantics and whatever else strikes my fancy. Head on over to Emily Lewis Design if you'd like to see my work or, even better, hire me.


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