Jeffrey has written two books, notably the foundational web standards text, Designing With Web Standards, currently in a 3rd Edition coauthored with Ethan . Designing With Web Standards has ratings and 80 reviews. Craig said: Forward-compatibility. Reduced site maintenance. Increased extensibility. More. Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition by Jeffrey Zeldman. “A web designer Dan Cederholm, author, Bulletproof Web Design and Handcrafted CSS.

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Jump to main content. For episode of The Web Aheadwe have Jeffrey Zeldman, the Godfather of Web Standards or Web Design, depending on who you askto talk about the past, present and future of making things for the web. We stadards the pros and cons of everything from parallax scrolling to data mining. This is The Web Aheada weekly conversation about changing technologies and the future of the web.

Designing with Web Standards – Jeffrey Zeldman – Google Books

I’m your host Jen Simmons and this is episode I want to say thanks to our sponsors today, Squarespace and Code School. I also want to say thanks to Pantheon for powering the The Web Ahead website.

And CacheFly for delivering all of the audio files that you are listening to. The fastest, most reliable CDN in the business. Kind of a meaningless, yet monumental number. To do something special, I thought I would have someone on the show today who has not been on the show yet.

It seems weird that I’ve been doing this for three and a half years without having this guest on. Here he is today: Eric Meyer calls me the grandfather.

Everybody else calls me the godfather. The Godfather of Web Standards by me, secretly, with hand puppets. And The Godfather of Web Design, which is even more ridiculous.

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I’ll take it because Jeffrey Honestly, so many people contributed to web standards, it’s just ridiculous. But I’ll take it. I was the person who made other people notice who hadn’t paid attention. Jen I feel like you were the big standarcs. There were a lot of techniques that evolved, and a lot of wisdom among people who knew what they were doing. Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of people. Slowly, this group wisdom emerged.

A lot of the techniques that were used in the 90s were not good. They were actually really bad. There began to be jeffdey new way of doing standarcs. This is what the web actually is. There was no other way to do web design except with invisible pixel divs, spacer GIFs, setter tags, and table layouts.


Because browsers didn’t support standards. There webb no standards for the web, period. They had these recommendations. They got the big browser company at the time, Netscape. Later, when Microsoft got into the business, they got Microsoft. And they got other companies sitting at the table.

These eggheads would propose, “Hmm, it might be nice to have a visual layout language. But the browser companies had no reason to implement those standards — they were competing on features. Netscape made up its own tags. In the very beginning of the web, that wasn’t a bad thing. There weren’t enough tags. Tim Berners-Lee conceived the web as document sharing, and was very agnostic about how things looked.

That was cool, and that is still what the web is.

But there began to be commercial applications for the web almost immediately, as soon as the Netscape browser came out. Netscape said, “We don’t have a way meffrey get pictures in here.

Later, Microsoft kind of did the same thing. Around — before a lot of listeners were born — some friends and I had been designing websites for three years. We saw that it was all broken. At the time, the two browsers were coming into equity.

Not equity in features, but they were both equally popular. Lots of stuff was going on that was shifting the balance away from Netscape toward Microsoft. Some of it was political, some of it was criminal. Anyway, there were basically two phases of web standards.

In the first phase, my friends and I got together and made the Web Standards Project.

It seemed like the best name — we could make WaSP out of it. A wasp is a little creature but you don’t want to get it mad.

Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman

That’s how we felt about individual developers: We had a character called The Wasp that wrote these editorials. The Word from the WaSP. At first we were pretty aggressive. Originally, Glenn Davis was the chair of the group. For whatever reason, he had to step down. George Alston did it for awhile. Then he stepped down. I designed the site and helped write the copy. There were lots of other people involved. People who knew a lot more about technology and the web than I did, because I was self-taught and I was just making it up as I went along.


The first phase was getting the browser makers to support web standards. That was a struggle and it took some going. I think you’ve had Tantek on the show? People said a lot of stuff about Opera. I don’t want to get into that. He came up with a new standards-compliant rendering engine. There was the first phase, and then the other browser makers were shamed into it. The first thing was really for us, our group, calling the stuff “standards,” and insisting that other people call them that, even though the W3C didn’t call them that.

When you name something, it gives you power over it. It’s the Peacekeeper Missile. You know what I mean? And let’s not have the web go the way of VHS and Betamax. Three, five years into the web, let’s not have it get fragmented. Let’s have the web content be accessible to all. Let’s keep doing design and behavior and advancing, but let’s do it in a way that all browsers support. The first phase, from towas really that.

Designing With Web Standards

Aroundthe browsers were good enough at CSS. Inwe were jsffrey CSS for type size, to prove that it could be done. But still doing it in the context of a table layout. There was no choice if you wanted margins and gutters. Once the compliance set in, the strange thing was, nobody was using it. There was the same tiny, avant-garde group of design and development nerds. Because they believed in accessibility or because they were coders by nature — whatever it was — they were writing semantic markup and using CSS.

The next phase was to get designers on board. That was really hard. In my book, I was talking about making type bigger for jefftey who needed it.

They could push a button. There was lots of abstraction of layout. But I didn’t figure out the persuasive piece of making the design really cool. I was trying to do good design, but I didn’t figure out what Dave figured out: Not necessarily a usable web layout. Maybe creatures under the ground reading the copy, or a strange and tranquil garden.