About the W3C Site Redesign (2008)

Status: This historical page is about the fourth design of the W3C website (2009-2023). Learn more about the W3C website designs since 1994.

W3C announced the deployment of its site on 13 October 2009. This page is maintained for historical purposes.

On 20 March 2009 W3C announced a redesign of key pages of its Web site. Below are some key points regarding the design and future plans.

thumbnail of the new site


Some of the primary goals of the redesign were:

  • To modernize the look of the site and make it much easier to find information.
  • To create a consistent navigation pattern across top pages
  • To follow the conventions used by many other sites (e.g., which links appear at the bottom of all pages, search box on every page, etc.)
  • To surface content (e.g., blogs, tutorials) that have been on the site but not obvious to find.
  • To make w3.org a useful aggregator of information contributed by the community. We have begun that process, but will now be inviting additional contributions from the community.
  • To make the redesigned home page mobileOK, and to work so that all pages work reasonably well on mobile devices
  • To ensure pages meet WCAG 2.0 requirements
  • To relieve W3C groups (e.g., Working Groups) of some maintenance chores. However, we plan to ask the groups to contribute explanatory material; they will be able to edit pages themselves (and simplify their own group pages).


  • New features for presenting technology information
  • Consistent top and bottom navigation. Consistent left site navigation: where there is a left menu, it permits users to navigate among siblings and up to the parent.
  • The home page has traditionally featured important W3C news. That continues (with an animation at the top of the page) but in addition the home page will feature recent Q&A blog posts and upcoming talks and events. There is also a direct link to sites with W3C news and information in other languages. Note: The W3C A to Z list that used to be on the left side of the home page is still available as part of the site map; it is linked from the right hand side of the home page.
  • Atom, RSS, and calendar feeds more widely used. In general, a lot more aggregation of information such as the calendar of events.
  • Search box at the top of every redesigned page. In the beta, the search is over the live W3C site (not the beta itself).
  • New pages for blogs, tutorials, and more.
  • Three style sheets available via the UI: screen, print, and mobile. Choosing one sets it as a user preference across pages. We are using a cookie to record that preference, but we don't use the cookie for any purpose other than to record the user's style sheet preference for the user.
  • A redesigned Member site. Note that this does mean that some of the beta pages (around 8) are not public. You will be prompted for a password to view these pages.

Features related to presenting information about technology

A number of new features improve how we present information about technology, and the specifications themselves.

  • Technologies have been organized into seven broad categories (listed on the Standards page).
  • The home page for each such category (e.g., the Web Design and Applications home page) includes a brief summary of technology areas covered by this broad category, followed by information about relevant events, talks, and blog posts in the W3C community.
  • For each technology areas (e.g., "HTML & CSS"), the home page provides (or will provide) introductory material about the topic and links to other useful information such as tutorials, logos, and validators.
  • There is now a page for each group of related specifications. The purpose of the page (e.g., the current status of HTML-related specifications) is to provide brief descriptions of related specifications, and how they all fit together. In addition, the page clearly states which specifications are standards, which are up-and-coming and which are obsolete.
  • We have added a wrapper around specifications (just Recommendations for now). The wrapper adds the following:
    • Information below the title to enable one to find key information quickly, such as whether this document is the latest draft, whether it is a Web standard, a review end date (for non-Recs), and more.
    • Context on the right hand side to find relevant resources (e.g., tutorials, errata, etc.). Note that those who wish to read the specification without this context may select the "print" style sheet to hide it (and gain back horizontal space).
    • We also plan to revise our in-place modification policy as a service to readers. Henceforth, once a specification has been replaced by a newer draft or superseded, we will update the outdated specification in place just the status information, nothing else to indicate that a newer version is available.
    • We have endeavored to find a middle ground between making the specifications look like every other page on the site and looking familiar. In the beta, the specification wrapper therefore has top, right, and bottom navigation, but no left hand side navigation or crumbs. Thought the specifications may be slightly inconsistent with the rest of the redesign, we hope this approach retains some of the familiar look while adding improvements.
  • Technical reports that have not been rewritten ('previous drafts') do not rewrite properly to the live versions on www.w3.org; so they are missing their usual styles.
  • Specification history pages. There is now a page per specification that shows its complete publication history. These pages make it easy to see, for example, which draft is the most up-to-date.


  • Because of known interoperability issues, we have accepted to use CSS that does not validate with the CSS validator. Over time we hope to evolve towards valid CSS.
  • We have chosen at this time to do no content transformation. Consequently, the home page weight is greater than permitted by the mobileOK checker.
  • We need more content! The specification status pages (e.g., the SPARQL status page) have been "initialized" with the abstracts from the specifications. The plan is to edit that text to make it shorter, and to provide more explanation about how the specs on the same page fit together. The biggest gap is the technology area pages (e.g., Semantic Web Query) where we plan to gather useful content from the community over time.
  • At the current time we are not planning to rewrite existing specifications other than Recommendations.
  • Some pages we expect to migrate to the new styles (e.g., the talks page) have not been completely integrated.
  • There are known CSS issues we need to fix (and welcome your suggestions):
    • Printing from firefox causes an extra page. Another bug is causing some content to appear in the wrong place.
    • Print style sheets need work
    • We would like to make the print logo selectors stay in the same place in all three modes
  • There are also very likely other CSS fixes we will need to make and welcome all of your suggestions.
  • On the pages showing the entire history of publications, the reformatted Recommendations are not shown (since they are not in our database of publications).


  • If the format of the rewritten specifications gains support, we plan to begin to rewrite newly published specifications (not just Recommendations). This will make features of the specification right hand side menus more useful: it will be possible, for example, to step back through the entire history of a publication by clicking on the previous version link in the right column.
  • The site redesign does not extend to the pages of individual groups (e.g., Working Groups). Once we have some experience with the current changes, we expect to turn to the question of group pages and work with groups on integrating them into the larger site.
  • We have not fully integrated the database of Talks that W3C participants give around the world. When we do, the mapping of talks to buckets (e.g., Web Standards or Semantic Web) will improve. Also, we have not yet migrated the views of the data to the new templates.
  • W3C seeks to find new ways for the public to participate in W3C. To that end, we anticipate looking closely at what social networking tools and other approaches might help.

How to Help

We welcome feedback and bug reports to the public discussion forum site-comments@w3.org (public archive). Please comment before 23 April 2009. Please note that your comments will appear (forever) in the public archive for that list. If you don't want that, please send to Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org).

We plan to make updates to the site during the beta review period.

Update 2009-04-14: There is now a page to track comments.

Notes on Sending Feedback

If you have a bug report, please provide the URI to the page with the bug and tell us what browser you are using. If you have a javascript or CSS patch, that is very welcome, too. If a screenshot would help illustrate the issue, send it along.

If you have suggested text changes for a page, please remember to send the URI of the page and your proposed text.

We Would Love to Hear Your Thoughts On These Topics

  • Did you find the new technical report style an improvement?
  • Did you find the site, overall, easier to navigate?
  • What do you think we can do to improve it? Feel free to mention easy improvements and also larger-scale projects (even if we can't get to them today).

We Welcome Links and Content!

The beta intends to show our intent to provide useful content to visitors. In some cases W3C has content, in other cases we don't. We certainly plan to link to useful content others have published; tell us about useful content you think we should link to (e.g., tutorials).

We also welcome contributions of content, particularly for the technology introduction pages (such as the HTML & CSS page). A few paragraphs explaining a topic will be very welcome. Use the HTML & CSS page as a template.

Usability Tests!

Here some some actions you may wish to perform and then give us your feedback on how easy they were to carry out:

  1. Find a tutorial on HTML
  2. Where is the charter for the CSS Working Group?
  3. Where is the list of current W3C Members?
  4. Where is the WAI highlights blog?
  5. When is the next W3C Advisory Committee Meeting?
  6. Where are W3C Test Suite Licenses?
  7. How do you request a photo of Tim Berners-Lee?
  8. Where is the XSLT 2.0 errata page?
  9. Find the two most likely causes of confusion that W3C is sending you spam.
  10. Where is the atom feed of recent technical report publications?
  11. Where is the home page news archive?