HTML5 – What is it and why should I care?
HTML5 has definitely been a big trend in the Web industry for over a year now and is starting to be used more regularly across a broad range of websites. The Development team at Cornerstone is really excited about it and we think you should be as well!
Background of HTML5
Firstly, to understand the many benefits of HTML5 it is important to know a little about HTML (HyperText Markup Language). HTML is one of the primary types of code that your Web Browser reads in order to display a website correctly. We use it every day to build our clients web pages, and our Content Management Systems automatically write this code when a client changes the content on their site.
HTML has not had any significant updates for many years which is quite unusual for a web technology. As time went on, web developers started thinking through ways this language could be improved to increase the performance, functionality and usability of their web sites. These ideas were compiled, discussed and effectively resulted in the birth of HTML5.
HTML5 – Key Features
There are many new benefits that HTML5 provides. Some of these are behind the scenes and so are not easily noticed, however many of them directly affect how Web Pages can be used, how they present content to search engines and the types of content that can be displayed to the user.
I have listed a selection of some of our favourite new features that HTML5 provides– there are many more:
- Communication with Search Engines: One of the key steps when attempting to improve the search engine ranking of a web page is to clearly outline the type of content displayed on the page, i.e. we need to declare if a block of text is a paragraph, a heading, an address, a person’s name, a price etc. This allows the search engine to gain a better “understanding” of the content on the page, which makes it faster for search engines to index. Sites that are faster to index are generally considered by search engines to be better maintained and this can help in overall search rankings.
- Additional Form Field Types: HTML5 adds many new types of form fields to our arsenal, meaning we can make it easier for users to enter their details into our client’s online forms. This is particularly useful for Smart-Phone/Tablet users where the Keyboard will be modified automatically, e.g. on an iPhone the “@” symbol will be added to the keyboard when the user starts entering their email address. ‘Drag and Drop’ functionality has also been added; providing an easier way for users to upload files.
- Video and Audio Support – In previous versions of HTML, browsers generally needed to use plugins such as Flash, Silverlight, Quicktime, etc. to play videos and audio files. HTML5 provides us with more control over these content types and means that these plugins and their security holes are no longer required.
- Local Storage of Data – As you know, websites will not work without an internet connection. With HTML5, data can be stored in your browser so you can continue to perform work, make orders, or enter data which will sync up the next time you’re online. (This means your users will be able to continue filling in your online forms when they go through a tunnel on the train!)
HTML5 – Web Browser Support
As you may already know, web browser developers are renowned for being slow to adapt to change and generally have difficulty agreeing on web standards. This is definitely the case with HTML5 support and as a result it means that some of the HTML5 features are not currently ready for use (especially in older browsers). HTML5 support will definitely improve and we expect that all of the primary Web Browsers will have total support for HTML5 in 2014.
It’s important to note that it is already possible to implement many of the new features HTML5 offers on our websites right now! We have been implementing these features on many of our client’s sites to make them more interactive and engaging, boosting the overall success of the site.
If you have any questions on HTML5 and how it may impact you, please leave a comment below, call us in Sydney at +61 2 8211 0668 or email us!
Jason is a Web Developer at Cornerstone who appreciates building websites that delight and inform. He is a curious person, and enjoys work that challenges him to learn something new and stretch in a different direction.