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HTML 5 – What is it? What can it do for me?

The future of the internet and web standards has arrived. HTML 5!
But what does that mean to you and I? What should we be doing differently now? Should I even bother with it?

HTML, XML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, AJAX……..
The internet world abounds with acronyms each one making less sense than it’s predecessor.
If you are into web design, interested in the technology of the internet or want to get technical about HTML5 then don’t go any further – click here instead -> http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/

If you are interested in what HTML 5 can do for your online business then read on.

So, in a nutshell what is HTML5?
It is basically the next version of the HTML standards. The code that Internet Browsers (IE, Firefox and the like) use to decide how to lay out the elements of a web page.
The boffins at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have now agreed on what new things are in HTML and what all the new browsers should now do when confronted by this HTML 5 code.

Will it affect my current site?
No. HTML 5, when enabled (more on how to do that in a minute) handles all earlier versions of HTML perfectly well i.e. your website will work just the same.

OK. My site stays the same – so why bother with HTML 5?
Good question. This brings me onto the “highlights” of HTML5. The new tags that have been introduced into HTML 5 that could offer your customers a better experience on your website. In order of (your) importance;

Forms

HTML 5 has invested heavily in improving the interface between browser and website.
There are 12 new HTML form tags. You’re used to <form> and <input> tags? Yes? Well now there are 12 additions to the family. Briefly they are: placeholder fields, email address field, autofocus fields, Web address fields, Number spinboxes, Number sliders, Date Pickers, Search boxes, Colour pickers, Form validation and Required fields.
That’s a long list. There is a good article here on what each one does.
Basically, a whole new range of web page controls to help your customers. Best of all, if their browser is old and does not support HTML 5 then these new fields degrade gracefully to normal text boxes.

The upshot? A better interface for your customers to interact effectively and efficiently with your website helping both customer and merchant deliver a better experience.

Local Storage

Simply, a massive extension to what Cookies used to do. This has far reaching technical ramification however it opens the door to allow websites to run on peoples local computers, even when they are not connected to the internet. An example of this application may be to allow a customer to download and manipulate a version of your online store or catalogue and have an order “ready”  for when they are next online!

Canvas

A great little HTML tag that can allow drawing of shapes and lines directly onto the page. This drawing canvas can be changed dynamically and stored as well. This should significantly change the way graphics are used and communicated between browsers and merchants.

Video

Self- explanatory. The new HTML5 allows fir the direct embedding of video into your web page using the new <video> tag. This makes things easier for merchants wanting to embed video directly onto pages.

Audio

As with video, except with an <audio> tag instead.

Geolocation

This HTML5 code allows the interaction, with consent, between the web application and the users geographical location. Potentially useful for delivery information and charges, contacts, meetings, scheduling etc. This will be one that will see a lot of exciting developments on.

Microdata annotations

A technical addition to the HTML5 standard that allows for additional custom HTML tags to be used where appropriate. Possible uses might be for ecommerce stores that create a <product> tag which can be used to communicate products to different sites, browsers and apps.

OK. So that is a brief low-down on HTML 5 and what it can do.
You should go explore some more now if you are curious, or alternatively sit back and wait for the rush of new ideas, developments and implementations that is sure to come in the next few weeks and months.

teclan will report back on any exciting developments in HTML5 for the ecommerce market.

More reading:

http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/
http://diveintohtml5.org/introduction.html

About Fergus

As the Managing Director of teclan ltd Fergus has been identifying and exploring new and emerging opportunities in the ecommerce market for over 10 years.

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