Forward Progress

Joe D’Andrea, who along with Vincent Murphy and Rebecca Taylor led the Web standards revolution on AT&T’s corporate site looks back on one full year with Web standards.

The story at AT&T is in a lot of ways similar to that of McAfee and in other ways, different. Similar in the sense that it was a ground up effort by a small team who were willing to do the hard work necessary to get there. Different in that there weren’t too many people trying to tell us that we were making a mistake. It was a very simple sell.

“We will cut page weight by an average of 50%.”

And that was overly conservative. In most cases it was 70%. But man, no matter what kind of deal you get on bandwidth, it’s hard to say no to that. We talked about the built-in benefits of accessibility and search-engine optimization. We talked about maintainability. We talked about extensibility. And how a lot of common localization headaches would go bye-bye. We talked about the suddenly much easier customizablility of partner sites which was and is the biggest part of the consumer business. With all of those benefits, it was easy to give the extra effort the big green light.

Sure, there were grumbles. But they all came from UI designers who weren’t ready to give up the ghost. It was early on in the overall scheme of Web standards adoption. Especially by larger companies. There were just a few examples to draw upon when we embarked upon this journey in the summer of 2004. And it was tough for a lot of people to swallow the fact that they had to learn how to properly author a Web page for the first time all over again. What was once the easiest part of their job now became the most challenging. And now, well over a year later, everyone would agree that it was absolutely, without a doubt the right thing to do. Everyone involved can truly call themselves a Web professional because of it.

Like Joe, I too am very proud to have played a principle role in bringing Web standards to a major corporation. But I am absolutely beaming because while I have personally moved on to new challenges, the talented team of individuals at McAfee will carry the Web standards torch proudly and to new heights. To leave behind a legacy that was in hind-sight just the spark for a flame that grows stronger and stronger is a tremendous source of pride. The coming redesign to the McAfee corporate site will be launching in March ’06 fully integrated with Interwoven’s TeamSite. It’s sure to make for a great case-study.

I guess the point I am trying to make, is that while there are reports of once great works coming undone overnight, it certainly isn’t common-place. In more than one case we have strong evidence that forward progress continues to be made in the global adoption of Web standards.

Keep up the good fight, people!

Disclaimer: While I am an eBay employee, these opinions are my own.