World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

What is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)?[1]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international organization committed to improving the web. It is made up of several hundred member organizations from a variety of related IT industries. W3C sets standards for the World Wide Web (WWW) to facilitate interoperability and cooperation among all web stakeholders.

History of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)[2]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee after he left the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October 1994. It was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) with support from the European Commission and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which pioneered the ARPANET, one of the predecessors to the Internet.

The organization tries to foster compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

It was originally intended that CERN host the European branch of W3C; however, CERN wished to focus on particle physics, not information technology. In April 1995, the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) became the European host of W3C, with Keio University Research Institute at SFC (KRIS) becoming the Asian host in September 1996. Starting in 1997, W3C created regional offices around the world. As of September 2009, it had eighteen World Offices covering Australia, the Benelux countries (Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium), Brazil, China, Finland, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and, as of 2016, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In October 2012, W3C convened a community of major web players and publishers to establish a MediaWiki wiki that seeks to document open web standards called the WebPlatform and WebPlatform Docs.

In January 2013, Beihang University became the Chinese host.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) - Mission, Vision and Principles[3]

The W3C mission is to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Below we discuss important aspects of this mission, all of which further W3C's vision of One Web.

Open Standards Principles On 29 August 2012, five leading global organizations jointly signed an agreement to affirm and adhere to a set of Principles in support of The Modern Paradigm for Standards; an open and collectively empowering model that will help radically improve the way people around the world develop new technologies and innovate for humanity. Learn more about OpenStand: the modern paradigm for standards.

Design Principles The following design principles guide W3C's work.

  • Web for All: The social value of the Web is that it enables human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share knowledge. One of W3C's primary goals is to make these benefits available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability. Learn more about:
    • Web Accessibility Initiative
    • Internationalization
  • Web on Everything: The number of different kinds of devices that can access the Web has grown immensely. Mobile phones, smartphones, personal digital assistants, interactive television systems, voice response systems, kiosks, and even certain domestic appliances can all access the Web. Learn more about:
    • Web of Devices
    • Mobile Web Initiative
    • Browsers and Other Agents

W3C's vision for the Web involves participation, sharing knowledge, and thereby building trust on a global scale.

Web for Rich Interaction The Web was invented as a communications tool intended to allow anyone, anywhere to share information. For many years, the Web was a "read-only" tool for many. Blogs and wikis brought more authors to the Web, and social networking emerged from the flourishing market for content and personalized Web experiences. W3C standards have supported this evolution thanks to strong architecture and design principles. Learn more about:

  • Web Design and Applications
  • Web Architecture

Web of Data and Services Some people view the Web as a giant repository of linked data while others as a giant set of services that exchange messages. The two views are complementary, and which to use often depends on the application. Learn more about:

  • Essential XML Technologies
  • Semantic Web
  • Web of Services

Web of Trust The Web has transformed the way we communicate with each other. In doing so, it has also modified the nature of our social relationships. People now "meet on the Web" and carry out commercial and personal relationships, in some cases without ever meeting in person. W3C recognizes that trust is a social phenomenon, but technology design can foster trust and confidence. As more activity moves online, it will become even more important to support complex interactions among parties around the globe. Learn more about:

  • Semantic Web
  • XML Security, Web of Services Security
  • Privacy

W3C Standards[4]

So far, W3C has generated more than 90 standards, also called “recommendations,” that have passed through its rigorous process of review, formulation, and implementation. These standards ensure that the web works equally well for everyone, regardless of their location or technology.

In particular, W3C standards for XML and CSS ensure that every website will function the same on any browser. Using W3C-compliant XML and CSS coding also improves search engine optimization by allowing search engine robots to “crawl” through websites quicker and more efficiently. W3C standards also improve issues of accessibility, privacy, security, and internationalization, while helping to balance speed, fairness, public accountability, and quality on the Internet. W3C-compliant websites are cross-platform compatible. This means that, in addition to working on any browser, they can also be accessed via mobile phones, screen readers and text browsers, interactive televisions, and other devices. Websites that use XML/CSS markup are cheaper to run because they use less bandwidth. And W3C’s royalty-free patent licensing commitments ensure that everyone has access to the technology they need to build their websites with the desired functionality.

W3C standard technologies are downloadable at no cost, maintained in a predictable fashion, and strengthened through rigorous interoperability testing. Conversely, websites that don’t use W3C protocols will be slow to load, which can frustrate visitors. They won’t work well with all browsers, which could eliminate many potential viewers. And they won’t work as efficiently with search engines, which could lower search rankings and make it harder for people to find the site. W3C standards are the primary reason the web works so well today and will work even better in the future. They’re good for web designers and for web users and should be an integral part of every web design project.

The Importance of W3C Validation[5]

W3C validation is the process of checking a website's code to determine if it follows the formatting standards. If you fail to validate the pages of your website based on W3C standards, your website will most likely suffer from errors or poor traffic owing to poor formatting and readability. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) allows internet users to check HTML and XHTML documents for well-formatted markup. Markup validation is an important step toward ensuring the technical quality of web pages.

  • Help Improve Rankings in Search Engines: W3C validation helps you to get better rankings in search engines. Errors in your code can affect your site's performance and also make a big impact on your site's SEO, search engines check the HTML or XHTML code of your website when searching. If they find invalid HTML or XHTML code – meaning code that does not follow the official rules, you might be removed from their indexes. If there is an error on your web page code, robots will stop searching the content of your whole website.
  • Validation helps teach best practices: Having standards-compliant code is the best practice for web design. It also teaches and encourages best practices for web design. While many veterans have learned to create error-free code and make relatively few validation errors, most beginners make more errors. Computer validation checks can help beginners learn from their mistakes.
    "These technologies, which are called “web standards,” are carefully designed to deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of web users while ensuring the long-term viability of any document published on the web. — Web Standards Group"
  • Improved Website User Experience: W3C-validated websites will be easily accessed by people with modern browsers. Validation improves usability and functionality because your users are less likely to run into errors when displayed on browsers compared to non-validated websites. Validation is fully compatible with a wide range of dynamic pages, scripting, active content, and multimedia presentations. The website validation process allows website designers to correct formatting errors that impact website performance and by following international standards, the code used in websites is reduced in size while improving efficiency. Because of this, web pages are displayed much faster and flow much better compared to websites that have not been validated
  • Make Website Browsers Friendly: Making website browsers friendly is one of the biggest reasons why W3C code validation was introduced. Websites that are not validated may display correctly in one browser but not in other browsers. Cross-browser problems are faced by many websites. Websites that are not validated may display formatting problems when used in certain browsers. On the other hand, W3C-validated websites are displayed without errors regardless of what browser is used. There are five major web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari; and usage among each of them translates to millions of internet users.
  • Multiple Device Accessibility: With the recent boom in smartphones and tablets more people will be accessing the Internet from mobile devices than desktop computers. By 2015, mobile commerce reached $119 billion worldwide and some sectors saw an even higher proportion of mobile traffic so there is a growing need for website owners to maximize the usability of their websites in new devices. Unfortunately, many website owners do not take advantage of this growth and forego W3C validation that makes sure their websites and web pages are mobile-friendly too. If you want your website to be visited by as many users as possible then accessibility should be a big factor.
  • Validation help for easy Coding and Maintenance: Websites or web pages that validate using W3C website validation have code formatted efficiently and are easy to edit and it helps website owners to create a new page or another new website with similar formatting. The validated code used in W3C HTML validation, W3C XHTML validation, or W3C CSS validation can be used in future sites.
  • Validation as a debugging tool: Validators tell you where you have errors in your code. If your page isn’t displaying as expected a validator might very well point you to the cause of the display problems. Also, invalid code that may display fine in one document may cause show-stopping errors in another because of the encompassing code.

See Also

World Wide Web (WWW)


Further Reading