Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about web standards – those confusing and sometimes arcane set of guidelines to building a ‘standards compliant’ website. Firstly, you have to pick a standard!

But I’ve been more interested in what competitive advantage a company in the web biz can gain by deciding to only build sites that are standards compliant.

I’ve discovered quite a few New Zealand web companies are now really emphasising that they develop sites that comply with W3C standards – most of them also putting links to an HTML validator (warning here for web firms – don’t link to a validator if your code doesn’t actually validate, as there is always someone out there like me who will check).

Ok, so it might be cool to write clean valid code, but do the clients care? Right now, in New Zealand anyway, I don’t think many clients have this on their list of criteria for picking a web firm, but I believe that will change in the next 18 months.

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