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Understand HTML

September, 15, 2015 | HTML


Non-Technical Definition

HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the presentation layer of web pages. Think of it as the exterior of an automobile, house or a really nice outfit. It controls the deliverance of your content to the end user.

Websites / web pages have a multitude of working parts. Naturally we have the Markup (html), the stylesheet(s), user interface logic and backend (database) logic. We have four major browsers that are used to view websites. They all provide the same function with minor differences (that can drive a web designer and front-end developer crazy).

The most basic of all websites, is one that is built with static content. This means the content is not pulled from a databse and does not change frequently (if at all). Static web sites are great fro small businesses that provides a very specific function. It is the cheapest and quickest way for potential clients to find you. On the flip side, it is a pain to update if you are not tech savvy.

HTML is at its fifth version and the best so far. Web technology has made great improvements from the time I started designing websites over seven years ago. We are going to leverage the latest techniques to design and develop a website for a fictional small business.


Technical Definition

HTML5 is managed by two oragnizations: W3C and WHATWG.
However, more people refer to W3C as the main go to resource. In any event, both organizations are responsible for updates, recommendations for new features, setting specific standards, and guidelines for the web. I am not going to pretend to know the deep and intricate aspects of this technology. If you are curious and want to know more, click on the links below. Besides, that is out of the scope of this tutorial.

The only people that care about W3C and WHATWG’s existence are web designers and developers. We, web designers and developers police ourselves by following the guidelines. Most importantly, we are very unforgiving. Writing bad code regardless if it’s markup, css or a scripting language can literally destroy your reputation. The guidelines help to an extent, but are not always followed. Large companies like Microsoft ignored these rules for years. This also goes for shady freelancers as well. I’ve come across jobs in the past that were so mangled in the backend that I kindly rejected the offer. This usually happens for one reason; the freelancer talks a good game, is really a graphic designer, and knows very little about the web development.

Due to the drastic changes in the last five years, even the large organizations are starting to follow the standards. This is an exciting time for web design and development. We have hundreds of tool at our disposal that will not only erase the learning curve, but also produce acceptable web pages. We still have to learn the basics in order to understand and take advantage of all the opportunities available, so let get started.