Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994 to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.
From the start the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been an international multi-stakeholder community where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop open web standards.
W3C's global standards constitute the toolkit for web solutions that scale, enabling innovators to solve hard problems, providing the proper foundations to meet requirements for accessibility, internationalization, privacy, and security on the web.
Standards that meet the varied needs of society are created not by one company but through the work of the Web Consortium community:
- Members: More than 400 Members from around the world lead the development and implementation of standards.
- Staff: W3C is a public-interest non-profit organization whose revenues come primarily from Membership dues. These and some grants support a staff of about 50 people.
- Developers: Over 12,000 developers worldwide participate in the standards development.
W3C standard development process
The proven standards development process upheld at the Web Consortium promotes fairness and enables progress.
Our standards work is accomplished in the open, under the W3C Process Document and royalty-free W3C Patent Policy, with input from the broader community. Decisions are taken by consensus. Technical direction and Recommendations require review by W3C Members – large and small. The Advisory Board guides the community-driven enhancement of the Process Document. The Technical Architecture Group is our highest authority on technical matters.
W3C conducts its work primarily in English. Organizations located all over the world and involved in many different fields join W3C as Members to participate in a vendor-neutral forum for the creation of Web standards. W3C Members and a dedicated full-time staff of experts have earned W3C international recognition for contributions to the Web. W3C's global efforts include:
- Liaisons with national, regional and international organizations around the globe. These contacts help W3C maintain a culture of global participation in the development of the World Wide Web. W3C coordinates particularly closely with other organizations that are developing standards for the Web or Internet in order to enable clear progress.
- The W3C Chapters Program, which promotes adoption of W3C recommendations among developers, application builders, and standards setters, and encourage inclusions of stakeholder organizations in the creation of future standards by joining W3C.
- Translations of Web standards and other materials from dedicated volunteers in the W3C community. W3C also has a policy for authorized translations of W3C materials. Authorized W3C Translations can be used for official purposes in languages other than English.
- Talks around the world in a variety of languages on Web standards by people closely involved in the creation of the standards.
- W3C's Internationalization activity helps ensure that the Web is available to people.
In orchestrating these activities, the Web Consortium has earned a reputation for fairness, quality, and efficiency.
Though not well-known by the general public, the Web Consortium has earned recognition for its global impact: the Boston Globe ranked W3C the most important achievement associated with MIT (the first W3C historical Host).
The Web Consortium's impact even extends beyond this planet: NASA regularly uses W3C standards in Mars and space exploration missions.
The organization has won three Emmy Awards: in 2016 for its work to make online videos more accessible with captions and subtitles, in 2019 for standardization of a Full TV Experience on the web, and again in 2022 for standardizing font technology for custom downloadable fonts and typography for web and TV devices.
In administrative terms W3C has become its own legal entity since January 2023, moving to a public-interest non-profit organization after 28 years with an atypical organizational structure where legal and fiduciary roles were assumed by four host institutions across the planet. Read more about the W3C history.
In process terms, the W3C Process Document, Member Agreement, Patent Policy, and a few others documents establish the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in the making of W3C standards.
The Process governs the standards-setting aspect of W3C. The Bylaws govern the operation of the corporation that supports the standards process and W3C’s other efforts to pursue its mission.
W3C sources of revenue include: