The Dogma W4 Manifesto

Version 1.1 | FINAL | 26 February 2003 (update)
Current version and more info:
This is current version overriding previous version Dogma W4 1.0
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an authoritative and precisely formulated statement of a doctrine that is advanced, not for discussion, but for belief; a system of principles or doctrines, or a single doctrine prescribed by some authority; an established and widely held principle or opinion.
Worth World Wide Web
good, valuable, important enough to warrant; having a monetary value of; having wealth and property amounting to

The Abstract

The Dogma W4 Manifesto (W4D) is a public proclamation of attitudes of a webdesigners group. The goal of this manifesto is to mark out a strategy to design web sites according to exactly restricted rules. It doesn't want to define mandatory standards. It just shows one of many possible ways of web design. Honouring its rules should assure accessible, usable and inspectional documents. These rules may be used by anyone, but nobody has to use them. We don't deny there are other ways to create worthwile web sites, too.

However, if anyone decides to honour any (or all) of the principles, authors of W4D can assure that the accessibility and usability of his/her web site will profit by it. We have no more to offer, and we no more to require.

The Prologue

Many texts have been written about a worthwhile and universally accessible World Wide Web. We, as webdesigners, are understood that a single example is better than thousands of books. Therefore, the web site made to Dogma W4 honours the W4D Principles.

These principles are not all essential to a better web. However, honouring them demonstrates the difference that can be made by a more accessible web.

The W4D Principles

Note: Every article contains a link to detailed description and an explanation why we used the rule and what advantage may be gained from it.

1. The Code

Documents' code is mistake-free and valid according to the strict HTML 4.01 or XHTML. The backward compatibility must be respected and the forward compatible syntax must be preferred.

2. The Header

A short and cogent title, the name and e-mail of author(s) of the code, and the character encoding of a web document (if it differs from default) must be specified in its header.

3. The Structure

When designing and producing web documents, the designer should ensure that their semantics and structure are well reflected by the markup and code they contain. The essential message conveyed by the document may be preceded only by information required to be known before the user starts reading the message. The body of a web document must not contain markup the value of which is not intended to convey structural or semantic information; nor should the body contain any content the sole purpose of which is to enrich the visual presentation of the document.

4. The Navigation

Each document on a web site excepting the homepage of that site must contain a link to the site's homepage. Any other sections of a web document devoted to the navigation of the web site of which it is a part must be consistently presented and positioned in unison with the other documents on that site. Especially large documents or presentations made available on a web site should be divided into sections, with each section linked to the beginning or prologue of the presentation.

5. The Homepage

The homepage of a web site must clearly convey the objective of that site.

6. The Convey

Every piece of information communicated in a web document must be legible in a text format.

7. The Links

All links and other active elements used in web documents must clearly identify the nature of their destinations or results they will cause. All links must remain underlined, except when link underlining is disabled by the user. Only activating an element may cause visual reformatting of a document.

8. The Tables

Table elements when used in a web document must be used to define the structure and layout of tabular data, never to define the visual layout of that document. Tables in web documents must be accessible without regard to the browsing environment of the user (except when the browsing environment provides no table support whatsoever), legible, and preceded by a meaningful title and/or summary.

9. The Use

No specific means of browsing a web document should be preconceived, recommended or required, and the accessibility of a web document should not prefer any specific means of browsing.

10. The Extensions

All code affecting the web document's presentation must be placed in external files and linked from the head of the document. No web document should depend on a resource for its proper rendering which can be disabled or uninstalled at the user's preference, or which requires the user to obtain software not ordinarily available as part of their web browsing environment. Furthermore, the user's browsing preferences should not be changed or disregarded by the code or markup present in the document

11. The Colors

The use of colors in a web document must be specified with adequate attention to contrast between foreground and background hue and brightness. Furthermore, no background pattern should be used which decreases the legibility of the document's content.

12. The Text

Explicit space must be displayed around any text. Only absolute sizes or relative units may be used to define the font size. The font size should not be smaller than xx-small. Typefaces when specified for screen or print media style sheets must include an option certain to be available on the user's output device (usually handled by including a generic type).

13. The authors

Authors following these Principles are encouraged to refer and/or link to them in the documents they produce accordingly.