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Improved Standards Will Benefit Us
By David Taylor -- August 6, 2003
There was no real reason why the Witheridge site should suddenly need to become W3C Compliant; it was doing fine just as it was, so why embark on a long and stressful exercise that would involve forgetting most of what I had already struggled to learn, and to start a new learning curve. The site had exceeded all my expectations and those residents who had followed its development wanted it to stay just as it was, and anyway, I was tired of struggling to maintain the quality and the content to the standard I demanded without input from others, and yet, like most webmasters, there was that ever present desire to keep tinkering. 

David Taylor

As my personal health has continued to deteriorate I have begun to view many thinks that I once took for granted in a new light, and I have come to realize just how many things that most of us take for granted are not always the same for those less advantaged, and that this is certainly true in many areas of web design. If it is truly to be a World Wide Web, then it has to be accessible to all, irrespective of our own abilities or disabilities, and so the decision was made.

With the aid of a couple of very valued friends for advice and assistance I set out on a journey into the unknown with much trepidation, but I have to confess that once my journey had started, it became challenge. Throwing away the old preconceived notions I learned the importance of using a template for the site design, and the benefits of having all the principal design elements being controlled by CSS.

The importance of an organized and consistent structure cannot be over emphasized, the benefits are simply enormous, both in load times, and in presentation, and once I came to realize this, I began to see how this would help improve accessibility. A fuller description on the alt attribute to provide a description of the visual image together with copyright information followed, together with a visual check to ensure that all Text made sense when read out of context, for example "click here" means nothing to many people unless you make it clear why you are doing so.

I was fortunate in having people I could turn to for help and advice, and I in return will gladly offer such help as I can to others if requested, and I am sure I know several others of like mind. It is a journey that has far reaching benefits to all, and it will leave you with not only a greatly improved site, but also a far better understanding of those less fortunate who have probably far more to gain from internet access.

It will leave you with a sense of real achievement, and the knowledge that you have made a valuable contribution to the growth of the World Wide Web. I believe strongly that we should do all that we can to encourage greater compliance with W3C/WAI standards, and with that aim in mind it is my intention to make compliance with either of these standards mandatory when applying for the Witheridge Award.

Copyright 2003
All Rights Reserved
David Taylor

About the Author
I am the owner of the Witheridge - A Gateway to the Two Moors Way website and Award Program.    My involvement in site design and the web awards community came about when I retired early due to failing health.   While it turned out to be a steep learning curve, I have thoroughly enjoyed, and in May 2003 the Witheridge site gained entry to the Award Sites! Hall of Honor.  I am also currently the CEM/CEMA  Applications Panel Director.

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