HTML5 – not just the latest buzzword in this content crazy world

HTML5 – not just the latest buzzword in this content crazy worldHTML5 seems to have become the new Web 2.0 and yet many businesses and consumers still don’t understand what it means or how it can benefit them.  However, in the year that content is expected to rein supreme, ignoring one of the biggest advances in digital marketing since HTML was invented (back in 1990) is not an option. 

Commonly used to refer to a combination of new web technologies including CSS3, JavaScript, Canvas and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), it is understandable that many don’t actually understand what HTML5 is. But as the glue that holds a host of technologies together, HTML5 will be pivotal to offering consumers the experience they demand in 2013, particularly when it comes to interactive content.

Video in control of the browser

HTML has traditionally been very limited in enabling full multimedia and it’s only now, with HTML5, that video and animation have become properly supported. Video is once again in control of the browser (not the other way around) so there is no need to worry about which plug-in needs to be installed. HTML5 supports video natively ‘right out of the box’ – it all just works seamlessly, no matter which device or browser, video will play in the best quality available.

Even if a brand doesn’t offer video content, consumers now expect a certain level of animation and interaction from the site. Historically this has meant incorporating a plug-in, such as Flash, which often disrupts rather than enhances the consumer’s experience. However, with the advent of HTML5, brands can now incorporate enhanced graphics and even 3D graphics directly into their site. The result: an experience akin to many of the games consoles which are, arguably, leading the way when it comes to offering a first class visual experience.

Creating compelling content

The benefits when it comes to the visual experience are not just limited to video content. HTML5 offers designers more layout options, more font styles and more scope to make engaging content. And, with browsers now displaying content with automatic pagination according to the device the site is being viewed on, the limits on what can be achieved online are only set by the brand’s imagination. This is key considering the huge shift to mobile web browsing we’ve seen over the past few years.

Taking brands mobile

Most of the improvements with HTML5 have a direct impact on mobile websites. Data requirements can be reduced by not only using local storage, but also because images are built using CSS3 and webfonts. Page content can now be responsive to work best on whatever the screen size and device it is being viewed on. And on top of this, HTML5 now extends to interacting with hardware, gaining access to GPS, accelerometers and cameras as well as speech input for forms.  All of these improve the customer experience, making it easier to get to the information we require in the shortest time whilst adding value to our experience of the brand.

Building one “thing” and having it work on many devices at once intuitively has been a pipe-dream for so long but HTML5 is making it a reality. It is vastly more cost effective for businesses than developing bespoke native apps across each platform they engage consumers through, and provides the higher quality, consistent experience that consumers are crying out for.

With the increasing uptake of 4G on the cards this year, interactive content is going to be a key battleground for brands looking to engage and retain customers. HTML5 can simplify this process so isn’t it time that more brands start looking at HTML5?

Richard Carter, Digital Director at Bolser.