What is HTML5?
HTML stands for Hyper Text Mark-up Language. HTML5 is a revised version of the original HTML standard created in 1990 by the World Wide Web Consortium to define an Open Web Platform. HTML is a language used for structuring and presenting content on the Web consistently, across web browsers. HTML5 is the evolution of that standard to meet the increasing demands presented by today’s rich media, cross device and mobile internet access requirements. As such, it is a great candidate for cross-platform mobile application development, as many of its features have been adapted with the consideration of running on low powered devices, such as Smart Phones and Tablets and providing web developers with tools like CSS3. Importantly whilst running within a web browser, (as HTML5 does) it is not tied to the underlying operating system, freeing applications from the significant development and support overhead of multiple native applications (e.g. iOS, Android, Blackberry etc.)
HTML5 is already supported in the latest web browsers on PCs and tablets and according to Strategy Analytics there will be one billion HTML5-capable phones sold in 2013, a huge increase from the 336 million units sold in 2011. This increase means that it is impossible to ignore the importance of HTML5 when considering your mobile site. Indeed, in some B2C and retail ecommerce client implementations Byte9 are seeing 40% of visitors accessing sites on mobile devices; this is only going to rise.
What is CSS?
CSS stands for ‘Cascading Style Sheets’ and is the language of design for web pages, giving site designers the ability to suggest how their site documents are styled. CSS is interpreted by all graphical web browsers regardless of device or operating system. It allows a logical division between the structure of a web page, (handled by the HTML) and the way it should look. CSS can be used to tailor the appearance of a web page specific to a particular device or screen size. In short, CSS is the language used for implementing front-end web design.
Advantages of HTML5 and CSS
Using HTML5 and CSS3 provides advantages to businesses that develop and deploy web content and web applications, to create refined and accurate web pages and web systems that operate across devices, operating systems and web browsers. Write once, run anywhere. The plethora of devices, operating systems and screen sizes present numerous design, functional and layout considerations and problems if standards are not adhered to.
The advantages of a standards based HTML5 and CSS3 approach are as follows:
1. Cost effective Multi-Platform Development
A single batch of code can be used across platforms, devices and different markets; this is an advantage because it results in lower development and maintenance costs over the web site or web application's lifetime, enabling you to use your resources elsewhere. Current best practice for cross platform (e.g. IOS and Android) application development is a ‘hybrid’ approach, whereby web standards are followed within a native application ‘wrapper’ that can be placed in the iOS or Android store. The LinkedIn ‘Application’ is one of the best examples of a mobile web site, widely considered to be a great ‘app’ that is not an ‘app’
2. Good page ranking
If the foundation of a website is not semantically accurate (i.e. unreadable, non-standard based code) then the page itself will not attain a good rank within serahc engines. No amount of Content Marketing in conjunction with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will make a difference to rankings if your page is not well structured HTML, easily readable by the Search Engine, in a logical document structure. HTML5’s new elements can be relied on when sites are being re-indexed on search engines, as specific mark-up features of HTML5 are of value when search engine results pages (SERPs) are being calculated. Search Engine Land outline well the main benefits that HTML5 offers in terms of content mark-up and SEO.
3. Offline browsing
In a similar way that ‘apps’ can be used offline, without an internet connection, HTML5 supports local storage of web application code and content, through the offline application cache. This is a tremendous advantage to businesses, like publishers, who can provide an offline web experience for readers on the move. The offline cache also produces significant performance enhancements as more of the site or system code and content is accessed quickly, locally.
4. Consistency across multiple browsers
Not all browsers support all web pages or web applications, however, the implementation of HTML5 and CSS3 helps the designer to create a compatible site or system within all browsers.
5. Better mobile access to Business Intelligence
Future development of HTML5 applications may lead to better access to business intelligence as all devices that are compatible with HTML5 will have the same ability to collect, collate and use data using standard (cross device) browser based analytics tools.
6. Extension of video to a wide range of platforms
According to TechCrunch nearly two-thirds of web video was already encoded for HTML5 in 2010, and one of the biggest benefits for marketers now is that HTML5 has native video support and can be directly built in to the supporting browsers which allow faster, high-quality video’s to be distributed. The inclusion of direct video content on a web page can also impact positively on SEO, as it is unique, engaging and therefore is included in ‘quality content’ that search engines are looking to send users to.
HTML5 supports geolocation. Once a user opts to share their location an HTML5 application can use the user's location. This can be of primary importance when developing location based services or apps.
8. A better user experience
HTML5 offers a wider range of design and presentation tools across media types, giving the developers greater scope to produce a better web sites and web applications. This is vital from a business point of view, as user engagement and retention is key to increased site and system use and conversion. Creating an accessible and usable site or system means that users will be more likely to engage.
HTML5 and CSS3 represent numerous opportunities in web development for businesses that develop and deploy online content and web applications. Overall, by using both of these tools in your businesses' web development you can optimise your users' web experience, provide a solid foundation for your SEO and content marketing strategy and significantly reduce your cross-platform web development and support costs whilst increasing your reach and optimising web experience.