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HTML5: What can it do for you?

The web has changed. The introduction of HTML 5, the fifth revision to the HTML standard, which is still under development but receiving a gradual roll-out, has opened up the web in a way that’s never been possible before. More flexible and fluid, the Internet in 2011 is a playground for designers and developers to create interactive websites that feature a wide range of multimedia add-ons. As a result, websites are more user-friendly and ultimately more engaging than they’ve been before. Under HTML 5 there are no limitations. If you can think of it, the chances are you’ll be able to do it.

So how does HTML5 make this possible? Put simply, it streamlines and simplifies the development process to take into consideration all the different elements a modern website needs to function – and there are quite a few. Web development is complicated. A website is no longer a single monolithic entity; it’s a labyrinth of tangled elements – tags and codes, video players and audio devices, social plugins and third-party add-ons. Without HTML5, developers have to learn and implement tools like Flash or Silverlight to incorporate elements such as these into a website’s construction, but this increases build time and leaves the website more vulnerable to failure.

HTML5 removes the plug-ins and third party programs to make for a less cluttered build. This is achieved via DOM and HTML support for multimedia, which essentially means that such features are now built into the websites, rather than added onto them. This is great news for developers, who are now able to use stand-alone HTML to create multimedia features and interactive add-ons. The build is made easier, which means the time spent on it is reduced and, ultimately, the cost comes down. Developers can get on with developing, clients get better value for money and the user has a state of the art website at the very cutting edge of technology. Everybody wins.

HTML5 also helps to futureproof against forthcoming platform developments. The dawn of smartphones and tablets has meant that the desktop PC is no longer the only way you can browse the web. However, developments such as this bring headaches too – with so many different platforms out there all displaying websites at a different resolution, how can you be sure your website works on all of them? It’s a lot easier with the responsive web! HTML5 comes with a new web-building philosophy; instead of trying to detect the platform it’s being viewed on and deliver content accordingly, a web page simply adjusts to the available screen size and uses the features available to it. This future-proofs a site because as platforms evolve the user will continue to see the best possible view of the site. Though this means there’s more time spent in the initial stages of development, it means less work in the long run. Any updates need to be made just once rather than multiple times – there is, after all, just the one website now.

Developers aren’t the only ones who’ll benefit from HTML5 and the responsive web though; SEOs will also find things easier. HTML5 improves a site’s optimisation by using semantic elements such as <section>, <video> and <article> tags. These have been introduced to reflect the usage of a modern website and help define elements of the site. For example, an element such as <article> can be found around a blog and helps define a self-contained piece of content that can be distributed independently. This makes it easier for a search engine to scan your website and see exactly what everything is, differentiating, for example, content in a blog from copyright information in the footer. It won’t push you up to the top of Google, but it’ll help.

Fast Web Media is already designing and developing websites with HTML5, including the one you are currently reading now. If you’d like to find out what we can do for you and your website using HTML5, just get in touch.