HTML5: The Ultimate Competitive Edge

May 26, 2013 Bria Jordan

As search engines and website design continues to evolve, we’re all looking for ways to set our websites apart from the competition. It’s a more complicated process now than it was ten years ago: we now contend with SEO, design interface, user experience, social media, natural linkbuilding and content quality – and that’s just off the top of my head. In addition to that, there’s also the emergence of tablets and smartphones and their needs – essentially tripling the work. HTML5 is the solution to this dilemma. Its new elements decrease the need for complicated code. Its scalability allows effective interface on multiple devices without additional style sheets or multiple sites. The improved use of web sockets improves security and user control.

Easier Elements

HTML continues to evolve: it’s increasingly moving away from being a system by and for web geeks, and into a system for web publishers and writers. Original dividers were paragraph tags <p>, line breaks <br> and header tags; Div and Span tags were eventually developed for use with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Although they’re handy for the front end (what the user sees), they can also make most code difficult to read. Did I mention it’s easy to lose track of the pair’s closing tag? Losing a closing tag breaks the code’s intended function, and it’s difficult to find five characters alike amidst tens of thousands of lines of code. HTML5 eliminates a lot of these issues without sacrificing the quality of the user’s experience.

Nicholas Johnston, Professor of Applied Science and Technology at Sheridan College in Toronto, puts it this way: “I think HTML5 allows for the creation of a better logical document structure than previous versions. The introduction of tags like <article> and <section> allow a designer to do away with a large number of <div>-based organization tags. This makes the code more readable for both other developers and […] any piece of software that might need to read the page.”

With many sites moving away from Java and Flash, these improved elements will keep sites visually stimulating and will enrich the user experience. They will improve site indexing and decrease loading times, which can have a positive effect on search rankings. Eliminating the need for excessive elements will decrease the chance of broken code, and eliminate the cost of site analysis and repairs.

Improved Usability

I consider this one of the most important benefits of using HTML5. Unlike its predecessors, HTML5 is a scalable language that can convert a site based on the device it’s being served on, without having separate style sheets. Instead of having separate sites or style sheets for desktops and other devices, creating one site in HTML5 will allow you to reach your audience properly regardless of their preferred device. This is especially important when you consider how quickly the mobile device market is growing – its increase in 2013 was projected to be 200% above the previous year.

Web Sockets Increase User Control

What is a Web Socket?

Web sockets are part of how a loaded web page interacts with the rest of the Internet. Previous versions of HTML were limited to communicating only with web servers, and only for the purpose of sending and retrieving files. Web sockets allow the loaded web pages to instruct the browsers to communicate directly with any other system on the Internet – even other browsers.

Communicating directly with another user while avoiding a server means increased security for your information, which can be helpful for restricted information or Research and Development.  It also reduces latency – improving audio and video performance; ideal if you telecommute or do remote training. Developing new apps or programs in HTML5 wouldn’t necessarily improve latency, but having them utilize web sockets appropriately will improve user experience, and that’s the ultimate goal.

As with any evolution, there are bound to be growing pains. Despite this, HTML5’s benefits far outweigh its potential drawbacks. Its improved programming ability will create cleaner code and improve user experience. The scalability allows for the site to appear properly on any device or computer. The improved latency and security allow the user more control than was previously allowed. Adapting early to HTML5 may be the competitive edge your site needs to reach your clients, regardless of device, and to keep your information safe.

About the Author

Bria Jordan is a Search Engine Optimization and Social Media consultant. A published writer for the last 14 years, she can often be found celebrating her off-time by bicycling through the city or cooking. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two cats.

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