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Chapter Four. XML Conquers the World (An... > Faddishness…with a Purpose

Faddishness…with a Purpose

As the CSS/XHTML combo took hold in the realm of personal and independent sites, accessibility was added to the mix via conformance with Section 508 or WAI accessibility guidelines. As of this writing, leading independent sites fall into one of two categories (as indicated by the dual productions of Todd Dominey):

  • Forward-compatible, standards-based sites that use CSS for layout and XHTML for structure and comply with Section 508 or other accessibility guidelines

  • Full-on Flash sites that exploit the power of ActionScript (a Macromedia scripting language based on standard ECMAScript)

It's fair to say that if your personal site does not exploit web standards or Flash, many of your peers in the design community will consider you hopelessly out of step. Such snobbery might appear faddish and trivial, and indeed it is. But by harnessing flaws in human nature, it serves a higher goal: the adoption of forward-looking techniques on mainstream sites.

Leadership Comes from Individuals

Personal and independent sites have always pushed boundaries, and their innovations have always inspired subsequent change in the mainstream. JavaScript, frames, and pop-up windows first appeared on bleeding-edge personal sites. When no one died after viewing such sites, commercial designers reasoned that it was safe to incorporate JavaScript, frames, and pop-up windows in client work. Hence, we get DHTML drop-down menus on e-commerce sites (www.coach.com/index_noflash.asp) and heinous pop-up and pop-under ads with our daily fix of www.nytimes.com. (Obviously, this hasn't always been a good thing.)

The transfer of technologies from cutting-edge sites to mainstream ones will be better this time around because this time, the cutting edge has focused on interoperable standards and accessibility instead of gimmicks. Prompted on one side by inspiring personal sites and on the other by emerging laws, the change has already begun.

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