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Chapter Three. The Trouble with Standard... > The Power of Language to Shape Perce...

The Power of Language to Shape Perceptions

The phrase “web standards” might be at fault. The Web Standards Project coined the phrase as an act of propaganda. We sought a set of words that would convey to browser makers exactly what was at stake—a set of words whose underlying ethical imperative would remind browser makers of their commitment to technologies they had helped to create and pledged to support. We needed a phrase that would convey to developers, clients, and tech journalists the urgent importance of reliable, consistently implemented, industry-wide technologies. “Recommendations” didn't cut it. “Standards,” we felt, did.

We had no budget and few hopes, yet somehow we succeeded. Today, companies like Netscape, Microsoft, Adobe, and Macromedia strive for standards compliance and brag of it as an expected and desired feature—like four-wheel drive. But although those companies “get it,” many in the design community do not. Some mistake “web standards” for an imposed and arbitrary set of design rules (just as some think of usability that way—as do some usability consultants, unfortunately). It should be explained to these designers that web standards have nothing to do with external aesthetic guidelines or commandments.


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