Anne van Kesteren by Anne

Today I read on a topic on Gathering of Tweakers about a new website, While the topic was first about the price of the website, 170.000 euro (you read that correctly) some people posted screen shots or said something about other browsers than Internet Explorer 6.0.

If you take a look at the source you can see why it isn't compatible: tables all over the place, completely non-structured markup. They used CSS, tried it at least, but this are the kind of people that don't really know what they are doing and they (must have)/probably tested in Internet Explorer first only, seeing all the incompatible stuff in Mozilla or worse, in Opera! If you look at the page you see all kinds of lists structures, but they are not really using lists, just tables and have a XHTML Strict DOCTYPE at the top! Class names like "purple" (translated), "red", "top" or class names that combined multiple things like "headerred" (on a P element).

You know, that is a professional company and I'm 17 years old and came up with a working website. My example of the website works cross-browser, uses less markup, uses structured markup, avoids tables for layout et cetera.

(Ian Hickson first comment was ew, xhtml sent as text/htlm, eeeeevil :-P. If it was for real, I would have fixed that, not now.)

By the way, it took 4 hours complete this website. Some people can confirm that. While I made the website, I also cleaned my room (all within the 4 hours).


  1. Nicely done, young man. You may wish to cover yourself with a little legal message. For an example of what I mean, see the footer on 37BetterFedEx.

    Posted by Simon Jessey at

  2. What's with Leiden? a while ago retecool had a post about their (now old?) redesign.

    Oh, and Anne, you forgot to set body background to white. YUR FIRED! just kidding. good stuff.

    Posted by huphtur at

  3. doesn't even show up in Safari on Mac =) You just get a white screen with a title in the titlebar... 170.00 Euro you say, people never stop amaze me =)

    Posted by Alexis at

  4. Anne, good job! The time you spent on this sould be recognized!

    Posted by csant at

  5. HA HA HA...

    You have just earned 10.000 for each year (as a 17 year old).

    I'm very interested how they'll respond.

    Posted by BtM909 at

  6. hehe, nice work Anne. has been popping up on other mailings lists and forum threads.

    The site is actually not that bad when looked form a information structure point of view. But the HTML is really bad, I'm mean for the overall cost they should have done better. But alas this is a common problem in Holland. Good HTML and CSS coding is a problem for most Website builders in The Netherlands. And just forget about asking a Dutch company for webstandards.

    Posted by Egor Kloos at

  7. Egor wrote:

    Good HTML and CSS coding is a problem for most Website builders in The Netherlands. And just forget about asking a Dutch company for webstandards.

    Really??? And I always thought Germany is bad!

    Nice work, Anne

    Posted by Minz Meyer at

  8. Minz, I actually believe that this maybe a industry wide problem. Webstandards as seen on ALA, CSSZenGarden et al is now no longer seen as innovative trick but as a methode that makes sense.

    It's just a pity that front-end developers and webdesigners are reluctant to adopt webstandards. saying that it is too problematic to use in real world solutions.

    I understand their reluctance, but I also think that this piont of view is no longer tenable. In fact holding out much longer will be seen as very unprofessional.

    As we are starting to see in the example.

    Posted by Egor Kloos at

  9. Well done, Anne! Great code!

    I actually thought that the Dutch were doing quite a lot for web standards, in comparison with the rest of the world. In this country (South Africa) we do have one or two standards-compliant websites, but they are few and far between. We still have a looooong way to go.

    Working for a web design company myself, I understand that web standards do not enjoy top priority. It is actually different when you sit inside a company. Everything is driven towards giving the client what he wants in the least amount of time, because otherwise you run out of budget.

    And no, we do not get paid 170 000 Euros for a job like that! 1 000 Euros would be closer to South African standards. But of course we work with Rands, not Euros. (8 Rand = 1 Euro)

    An very good salary is about R8 000 per month in the region where I live (1 000 Euro). Most people get far less than that.

    I personally allways try to make my sites standards-compliant, but there are other things that must enjoy higher priority like general usability (quite a big issue down here).

    I hope these things will change into the future, but until then we must just try our best. :-)

    Posted by Charl van Niekerk at

  10. Anne, on behalf of all web developers I know who care about standard code, interoperability, accessibility and standardization: Thank you!

    You write that the is made by a professional company. I would argue strongly on that, but it depends on your definition of "professional". I can't see it any other way than that the authors of that website is a big bunch of unqualified loosers who doesn't even know what the W3C is.

    I hope you get a decent response on your brilliant make-over. And I hope they sue the company that made the site, and never buys services from them again.

    Posted by Asbjørn Ulsberg at

  11. I have to agree here, there is only a really small part of the design community that advocate webstandards, i've been working with several designbureau's that don't know shit about xhtml/css i i can tell, you can't work with people that don't want to learn and are stuck in there crap, table/frontpage/dreamweaver routine. ok i'm frustated, but it's time for a new generation and the customers must be told there is something like webstanders, because in general, the customer thinks, hey I can see the site so it's ok.... and that's excactly how those "designers" think, so they don't care, and the world is still full of crap sites.

    Posted by rj at

  12. Actually I must say you even improved the look of the site, I just went switching between sites in mozilla and noticed your example looks much better.

    Better use of white space, bette font etc.

    So for those who haven't noticed: start switching and you'll see that it's not just better code but als an improvement in layout.

    Posted by Yorian at

  13. There are several causes that contribute to the problem as seen with; in the first place the market is dominated by the establishment, which couldn't care less about web standards. Why? Because it will cost them... Why? Because it takes less time to develop with web standards. And of course they're reluctant to try to(o). We know this is not entirely true, but that's how they see it.

    Secondly, educational institutions haven't picked up web standards yet. This means that all (!) new designers and developers are working old-school, which is bad. The only ones really caring are hobbyists like us. And it will take some time to change all this.

    I'd also like to point out that the cost of the site consists of more than only the front page design... ;)

    Anyway, as I live in Leiden and just a 3 minutes walk from city hall, I always go there for anything I need. I prefer personnal service. Btw: they've got a huge bar called "City Hall", so when I have to wait I can go there and drink a beer. :)

    Posted by Basje at

  14. What I have noticed when offering or simply taking my volition to re-make someone's site to be standards compliant, they don't appreciate it. On the contrary, they resent it. When you re-make somebody's site, you're basically telling the developer I did this better than you. In the face of that, the developer is more likely than not to shun web standards, and the whole point is lost.

    Posted by Noa at

  15. Noa, the ones you should contact when remaking something, is of course not the developer, but the customer. If you can tell them that the website would cost 1/2 as much (or even less in's case, which I would gladly do for less than €10.000), would be smaller in size (and therefore faster to load, and save both bandwidth and hardware costs), be more accessible to all users (which they will save much money from in the future, when governments will require accessibility on certain websites), and be future resistant, I would at least hope they would fire the old developer, sue the crap out of his puny incompetent ass, and hire you on the spot.

    If the customer doesn't, they don't deserve you, and you can stop thinking about them, never visit their website, and start spreading the word about how utter crap the website is to all your friends. Hopefully, the customer will loose incredible amounts of money on this someday. At least you can hope they do.

    PS: Anne, have you received any feedback from Leiden on your version?

    Posted by Asbjørn Ulsberg at

  16. Well done Anne, aside of one tiny remark I think you've done an excellent job on the remake of

    I would've done so myself had I had the time (read this article on on and, in particular, my comments near the bottom), but alas, work and real life problems have kept me from it.

    Your version is a great example of how a major site ( is going to be pretty huge, tons of information there) should be structured.

    To all who have commented about this issue (or wrote about it in their own blogs):
    Leiden (the city council) went with a company that is "well-known" (among cities in the Netherlands) for their Content Management Systems and websites that they provide for cities and the like. The 170.000 Euro spent on the website was not only for the site design, but also for the back-end application and the hosting and traffic etc.

    The only real problem here is that Leiden's council did not bother to check out other possibilities. They just went with who was recommended and managed to give a convincing presentation, as far as I can see. The company that made this site is working on a good name across cities, but anyone with half a cup of knowledge on Webstandards can see right through these people. Sadly, no one in Leiden's council has such knowledge, nor did anyone think of asking someone who does.

    It's seriously regrettable to see what has become. The website's content is unorganized, hard to navigate through and the URI's are beyond horrible. Just look at this link (that I've chopped up in three pieces so that there is no horizontal scrolling caused by it):

    An example url as it would've been using the CMS that I've been working on recently:

    What surprises me is that some people from the city council are trying to defend the site high and low, instead of realizing that keeping this site for a whole lot longer will only do damage to Leiden as a city.
    I mean, just admit you've made a mistake in working with this company? :)


    As for the comment on Dutch companies and webstandards - I work for Media Design, and since I've come here we've made CSS-based sites only (bar 1). I'm personally incredibly intent on making properly structured sites, and fortunately my boss is very Standars-aware himself (well, one of the two is, anyway).

    The CMS I mentioned earlier uses well-structured, meaningful markup and all sites rely solely on CSS for the layout / presentation. I hope to keep that trend up, so that more people become aware of this. However, to aid that goal further, I've been contemplating forming a group of Dutch standards-aware designers, to work together as a company of sorts and design Standards-compatible websites for cities, towns, schools, universities and interested companies, for affordable prices. Soon I shall be doing more concrete work on that idea, but anyone who is Dutch and interested in improving the quality of websites all over the Netherlands is free to contact me at any time. My name is Faruk, and I work for (ignore that site, btw, it's not standards compliant and hardly well-structured). We use first names for our e-mail addresses here (that should give you enough info). :)

    Posted by Faruk Ates at