Today is the Fifth Annual International Blue Beanie Day (BBD). The hat was worn by standards guru Jeffrey Zeldman on the cover of his Designing With Web Standards book, but the woollen garment has come to symbolise standards solidarity and a willingness to adhere to best practices when it comes to web design. The day also attempts to raise awareness among the community that the battle for standards remains an ongoing concern. Zeldman told us: "Standards keep the web from fragmenting into tiny fiefdoms best viewed with a particular browser or plug-in only. Web standards keep our content portable and accessible across platforms, devices and operating systems. Each November 30, we celebrate. You wonderful people can help spread the word."
On Twitter, designers were keen to tell us they would be involved with Blue Beanie Day. "I will be, and do so as an excuse to make peers, contacts and friends more aware of web standards," said Doug Somerville; "I will be… shoot, every day it's cold I'm wearing the blue beanie!," joked Matt Haff; and William Dodson told us that it's a "day to not only reflect on how far we've come with web standards, but to also keep moving forward".
A tribute and an education
Other designers and developers elaborated on what Blue Beanie Day means for them, some suggesting it goes further than just donning a blue hat and having a bit of fun. "I started building websites before there was such a thing as 'web standards', but immediately saw the benefits that clean, semantic code brought about," says Green Dog Interactive partner Bob Sawyer. "So, to me, BBD is a tribute to the pioneering days of the web, when we realised there was a better way of building websites, and also a chance to educate designers, developers and clients that it's not just the design and the content, but also the methods we use to build web sites that are important."
Developer Randy Peterman thinks similarly: "Blue Beanie Day doesn't just fit into my wardrobe – its message fits my career: web developers, browser makers and web data consumers need to operate as a unified mass, pushing consistently into the future with web standards. Designers take standards for granted until something doesn't work, but BBD helped me and the team of folks I've worked with create better websites and pages, and helped us work with a unified mind for faster production."
Open web evangelist Molly E. Holzschlag told us that she now feels the day is "less about the standards movement and more about the community spirit we as folks of the web feel," but believes this is just as important: "Zeldman's famous blue beanie has galvanised the relationships of diverse, global individuals around something far more than standards: the idea that the web is something we build with pride, with joy and with an eye on doing our very best."
And developer Stephanie Rewis wanted to remind us that keeping standards moving forward isn't just a one-day annual event: "Blue Beanie day has done a great job of bringing attention to web standards, but if you've asked yourself if you could do more than put a blue toque on your head once a year and were wondering what to do, there's a great new resource in Move the Web Forward. The site was put together with love – and tears – by a very generous group of web devs. No matter what level of expertise you have, there are awesome ideas you can tackle yourself. Make a contribution and move the web forward."