I recently emailed my local ISP Orcon telling them why they should switch to a web standards based design. As always it was a compelling argument. A week or two later I found that they’d started converting their website as I had suggested. I haven’t heard anything from Orcon so I’m not sure whether or not it was my email that convinced them but never the less, I should have been happy that they’d made the jump right? Well, yes and no.

They say that beauty is only skin deep. In Orcon’s case ugly was only skin deep, the beauty was a little lower in the View Source button. Their header and most of the start page has been converted to semantic XHTML and the W3C Validator only found eight errors. So I’m going to take the time right now to congratulate Orcon on getting this far, it’s a big step in the right direction already. What mortified me was that the website had become substantially less attractive. I’d have loved to have given you comparison screenshots but this was posted from uni.

It is highly likely that whoever did the changes is only just starting out on the web standards path (Welcome to the family). I understand if they haven’t completed the re-learning phase. But it scares me that people may be linking web standards with ugly websites. I know that there are some very sexy standards based websites around, but does everyone else? Are people giving up on standards before they’ve really begun because they don’t know how to achieve the same look that they could with nested tables.

To end this largely non-coherent rant I have to say that Web Standards ≠ Ugly Websites. If you’re just starting into the realm of web standards, don’t get discouraged, keep at it and your efforts will be rewarded. If you haven’t yet made the leap, please do.