User interfaces developed for uPortal and portlets should follow Web Development best practices. The starting point in best practice is "Web Standards".
Web standards are technologies and the guidelines and specifications for technologies, established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other standards bodies, which are used to create and interpret Web-based content. The Web Standards Project (WasP) provides a good description of Web Standards.
A brief summary of the merits and benefits of Web standards includes:
- Simpler development and maintenance: Using more semantic and structured HTML makes it easier and quicker to understand code created by somebody else.
- Compatibility with future Web browsers: When you use defined standards and valid code you future-proof your documents by reducing the risk of future Web browsers not being able to understand the code you have used.
- Faster download and rendering of Web pages: Less HTML results in smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. Modern Web browsers render pages faster when they are in their standards mode than when they are in their backwards-compatible mode.
- Better accessibility: Semantic HTML, where structure is separated from presentation, makes it easier for screen readers and alternative browsing devices to interpret the content.
- Better search results: The separation of content and presentation makes the content represent a larger part of the total file size. Combined with semantic markup this will improve search results.
- Simpler adaptation: A semantically marked up document can be easily adapted to print and alternative browsing devices, like handheld computers and cellular phones, just by linking to a different CSS file. You can also make site-wide changes to presentation by editing a single file.
A Web Standard Document
A document is said to adhere to Web standards when it complies with the guidelines and specifications set forth for the technologies used in the document. According to Web standards bodies like the Web Standards Project (WaSP), a Web document should use:
- Structural Semantic Markup Languages (HTML/XHTML) for structure
- Presentation Languages (CSS) for presentation
- Object Models (DOM) for objects
Several key principles have emerged alongside the advent of Web Standards that are considered best practices:
Fluid Project Design Handbook
The Fluid Project maintains a Design Handbook, a valuable resource on design and development best practices, including a section on Accessibility Resources: resources for Web and DHTML accessibility from both the design and technical perspectives.