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Introduction > The Smell of Change

The Smell of Change

Such changes are taking place everywhere, sometimes quickly and other times slowly. These changes will materialize anywhere thinking people face the task of creating or updating web content. Almost unnoticed amid economic and political worries and the grind of daily deadlines, our shared understanding of how the web works and how it should be built is undergoing a profound and continual metamorphosis. Web standards will soon be as widely discussed and studied as web usability and information architecture, and they will be considered every bit as essential as those disciplines—because they are every bit as essential to the health of our sites and of the medium in which we toil.

This book is large and has been crafted with care, yet it barely scratches the surface of what standards mean to the web. There is more to CSS, more to accessible, structured markup, and far more to the DOM than what this book or any single reference could convey. And as we've already mentioned, there are more ways to look at the issues we've covered than the way this author looks at them.

Put two designers in a room and you will hear three opinions. No two designers are likely to agree on every aspect of typography, branding, navigation, or color. The same is true of standards. There are as many disagreements in this realm as there are practitioners and theorists.

No book can deliver all things to all people, and this book is merely a pointer in the general direction of a journey whose path you must find for yourself. This book will have done its job if it helps you understand how standard technologies can work together to create forward-compatible sites—and provides a few tips to help you along your way.

I stumbled onto web standards after three years of designing sites the old-fashioned way, and it took me another five years to reach the understanding on which this book is based. You might disagree with any part of what I've said in these pages. I might disagree with some parts myself six months or two years from now. The point is not to bog down in differences or reject the whole because you're uncertain about one or two small parts. The point is to begin making changes that will help your projects reach the most people for the longest time, and often at the lowest cost.

If not now, when? If not you, who?

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