Semantic, Accessible HTML is Good for Business


I had the very big pleasure of speaking at the April 2008 MinneWebCon, the first year of this annual Minneapolis-based web design and development conference. My topic was something I am incredibly passionate about: valid, semantic, accessible (X)HTML. I've been a downright zealous advocate of this in the years leading up to my presentation, and it is something I continue to promote and defend.

The title of my presentation was "Semantic, Accessible HTML is Good for Business." Not only is semantic and accessible markup something that is technically and academically superior, but it bridges the gap into every day reality by being financially and strategically advantageous.

Here is the abstract I submitted for this talk:

With wide support for CSS by today's browsers, you can make your visual design a reality and use semantic, accessible HTML. This session explores what semantic HTML is, describes the business returns you can get from designing with standards, and demonstrates how CSS enables you to honor your visual web designs with even strict semantic markup and advanced accessibility considerations in place.

Please check out my full slide deck online.

For those of you who don't like reading, here are some of those business reasons for semantic, accessible markup straight from my conclusion slide:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Speak Google's language so it can send people to your site.
Accessibility - Legal and Ethical Mandate
Spend less money on lawyers and feel good, too.
Accessibility - Mobile Devices, Future Uses
Takes almost no effort, so why not?
Quick and Easy (Cheap) Redesigns
Leave more time for innovation, or redesign more often.

One could certainly add a couple more things to this list, namely:

  • CSS layouts created with semantic markup use less bandwidth than old crufty <table> layout code
  • Valid, semantic markup plays nicely with JavaScript, including great libraries and extensions (e.g. jQuery).

One last cool tidbit of information about all of this is a small personal joy. I actually spoke immediately after Eric Meyer's morning keynote on the exact same stage as him! Pretty cool experience. For the record, he's a pretty swell guy.