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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Using The Right Tools Makes Web Design More Accessible

By Jeff Wagner

Since the invention of HTML in the late 1980s the focus has switched to web design. Early web pages were hand coded using a text editor, while this is still possible there are many tools that make things much more accessible for the average user. It's no longer the case of coding a document but more one of designing one with the right tools.

There is a multitude of site standards in use. Initially standards were there to display simple text based sites that allowed images and hyperlinks. This was a very functional standard that limited options.

Due to the limitations browser developers started to develop their proprietary standards, which meant that pages designed for one browser might not display correctly with another one. At this stage of development sections of the code had to detect the browser and offer different pages, although this is still the case later improved standards has made things easier although it has relied on compliance from both the designers of browsers and from designers.

The well designed web page is tested against the standards. There are online tools that inspect a web page and alert the designer of errors in the code that breach the standards. Most of the better designed applications for creating pages are standards compliant. This means that sites will have less compatibility issues with different browsers and lessens the need to recode pages.

Page creation applications help to make things significantly more straightforward. With the tools it's possible to create the bulk of most pages dragging and dropping content in a similar way to desktop publishing. Basic pages can be created with little or no knowledge of HTML, however more advanced pages still need advanced skills.

Web standards have largely been pushed by web browsers. The best tools are standards compliant, which helps to ensure pages work cross platform. This makes basic design possible for the typical designer while more advanced pages still need specialist knowledge.
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