W3C Standards


Although not a regulated or fully formed "industry", the Web (sites, applications and services) is still subject to certain standards for technical specifications. The World Wide Web Consortium – W3C – is an international community that has developed these standards to promote the long-term growth and usability of the web. Web Developers can adhere to the numerous standards defined by W3C to gain endorsement by the consortium and the wider web development community.

There are thousands of W3C standards covering all aspects of web development, and to list them all here would probably bore you to tears! Instead we are going to summarize the most commonly used standards, helping you to ensure that your chosen web developer is building you a site which is recognized and approved by W3C. Full details of all the W3C standards are available on their website.

Web Design and Applications

  • HTML & CSS – These are the fundamental technologies used for building web pages, HTML / XHTML is used to define the structure of a page and CSS is used to create style and layouts.
  • Scripting and Ajax – These are the standard Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for client-side Web Application developments.
  • Graphics – W3C has specified the use of PNG raster, SVG vector and Canvas API formats for web graphics.
  • Audio & Video – W3C approved formats for AV presentations include HTML, SVG and SMIL.
  • Accessibility – The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has created and published Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAH) to help developers create content and applications that are accessible to the disabled community.
  • Internationalization – web technology needs to work across all languages ​​and cultures, and W3C has ensured this by creating HTML and XML standards which are built on Unicode.
  • Mobile Web – W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices promotes the use of "One Web" and provides developers with the tools to create content which is viewable on a variety of mobile devices.
  • Privacy – The privacy and security implications of the web are a critical part of technology development and design.
  • Math on the Web – MathML enables maths to be served, received and processed on the web for business reports, education materials and scientific research.

Web Architecture

  • Architecture Principals – provide guidance and information to design web technologies.
  • Identifiers – web items are identifiable by their names – URLs, URIs, and IRIs are all WC3 approved web names.
  • Protocols – HTTP is the web's core protocol and is the vehicle used to exchange ideas.
  • Meta Formats – Extensible Markup Language (XML) helps developers efficiently and cost-effectively build new meta formats.

XML Technology

  • XML Essentials – infoset and namespaces are some of the essential XML technologies which address XML issues in specific application contexts.
  • Schema – SML (W3C's XML Schema) provides quality control tools for XML data.
  • Security – XML ​​signature, xkms and encryption can create the integrity and privacy focused secure environment for XML.
  • Transformation – XSLT and XPath have been created to allow developers to transform XML content into other recognized formats.
  • Query – XQuery is used by web developers to extract data from XML content.
  • Components – Further components such as style sheets, xlink, xinclude, xpointer, xforms and xml fragments have been created to provide a better environment to use and manipulate XML content.
  • Processing – Defines the operation which need to be performed in chronological order on an XML document.
  • Publishing – W3C have created XSL-FO for developers to publish large, complex or multilingual XML documents to HTML, PDF and various other formats.


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