A claim you may have heard me make before is that the web is not a visual medium. Some of you know exactly what I mean and some of you probably think I’m nuts. For those of you who think I’m crazy, let me elaborate. You, like most people, probably experience the web visually. However, this visual aspect is only one facet of the web. Underneath the visual aspect you will find that the web is a structured, or semantic, medium. This means that people (or even machines) of varying capabilities (as opposed to disabilities), using all sorts of user agents (a fancy way of saying web browsers) can experience this same web non-visually. If built correctly, the same web page should be accessible to you visually as well as to visually impaired people, search engine robots, people that want to use text only web browsers, people using older versions of web browsers (backward compatibility), people using mobile devices, and user agents that weren’t even invented yet when the web page was first built (forward compatibility).
Craig Cook has a good article about How to Grok Web Standards in which he addresses many of these ideas and more. If you still think I’m crazy, hopefully it’s not because you think I’m wrong about the web not being a visual medium. If you don’t think I’m crazy then maybe in another blog post I’ll talk about why I think that content management systems (CMSs) in general, and WYSIWYG editors specifically, break the web.