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  • November 30, 2012

Blue Beanie Day – Celebrate You!

In the hand-to-lap-to-desktop world of modern web design, why do we persist in celebrating Blue Beanie Day each year?

A funny thing happened on the way to the multi-device world we design and live in. The web standards movement happened. Decorative Illustration

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Accessibility. Progressive enhancement instead of graceful degradation. (Structured) content first. The more our industry and the technology we’re asked to support changes, the more these basics of the web standards movement remain exactly the same as they ever were.

Remove web standards from our platforms and history, and there is no iPhone, and therefore no competing Android. No frictionless on-the-go ecommerce; no check-ins; no sharing on Facebook or Twitter from 30,000 feet up. Lose web standards and you lose HTML5 and a billion smartphones that support it.

If the print aesthetic had won—if the technologies supporting that aesthetic, slice-and-dice table layouts and Flash, had continued to reign supreme—our web use would almost certainly still be limited to the desktop, and web content would very likely be constrained to the whims and abilities of a single, aging desktop browser. With no competition, there’d be no reason for that browser’s manufacturers to update it, and no need to improve its standards support, as the browser’s behavior would be taken as a defacto standard. As a result, there would be no HTML5, no CSS3, no point in innovating standard technologies.

Betting on HTML never looked like the smart move. There were times during the 1990s when I felt like a chump for plodding away with CSS and HTML when more powerful and better supported tools were available. Most of my fellow designers were using Flash and table layouts to create beautiful, powerful sites with full typographic control while I struggled to bring rudimentary typography to Netscape and Microsoft’s browsers, and to convince Happy Cog’s earliest clients that accessible, standards-based, user-focused design was in their customers’ and their best interest. Thank goodness enough of them agreed. Those clients—and yours, if you too supported accessible standards-based design before it was cool—are the true heroes of the standards movement.

That movement would not have succeeded without the support of thousands of designers and developers like you. You are the heroes of yesterday and tomorrow. How we move forward is up to you.

So as you use HTML5 and CSS3 (maybe even going so far as to contribute to their final shape), and as you progressively enhance and responsively design a web of services (not just content) for everything from phones to Frigidaires, take a moment out of your busy day. Put on the blue cap. You’ve earned it.

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