What’s the Deal with HTML5?

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HTML5 has been around for a very long time now. But not everyone moves at the same speed. Different browsers adopt technologies at different rates. And developers need to factor in that compatibility when they choose technologies for their projects.  But, now that it’s been over 12 years since the initial release, it’s pretty safe to say that HTML5 a good choice for anyone on the web. 

What is exactly HTML5? 

To oversimplify a bit, HTML5 is a new set of HTML tags–and a new way of thinking about HTML.  These new tags are named to be more semantic, or to better describe their actual functionality.  And that functionality has improved some, too.

In the past, the task of a developer might look like this:  They’d use HTML tags to say, “A thing goes here.”  And then they’d use javascript or attributes to say, “This thing looks like a like and behaves like a list.”  

With HTML5, the developer just puts a list tag in.  The browser does the rest of the work.  

Why Use HTML5? 

There are plenty of sites that don’t use HTML5—or don’t use it properly—that seem to function just fine.  If you weren’t looking for it, you might not even notice.   So why should companies make sure their websites use proper HTML5?  Why should web developers learn HTML5? 

Mobile traffic now makes up more than half of all web traffic.  Browsers are expected to know how to handle HTML5 tags.  An iPhone’s browser, for example, knows how to render a <button> tag in a way that is easy for the user to see and interact with.  In the case of an element that doesn’t use an HTML5 tag, the web developer would need to write code to ensure that every device and browser can render that element properly.  This is just one of the benefits of HTML5. 

HTML5 for Accessibility

Many HTML5 elements come preconfigured for accessibility.  A <button> tag will automatically allow for keyboard navigation and use—and it will be easy for screenreader to describe.  Structural HTML5 elements also help users on screen readers navigate the page by adding in an underlying structure and better communicating the purpose of each element.  

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