Do Websites Still Use HTML ? | HyperText Markup Language explained

If you find yourself in a situation where you haven’t been keeping up with the latest state of website technologies. You might wonder what is the most effective way to create a website in the current web development climate.

After all, the industry is renown for reinventing itself every few years as technologies improve and optimisations occur.

As improvements to website creation have been made, you may have heard of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors and for non technical people to create their own business or product

So, do websites still use HTML?

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is still the main building block for all websites. It serves as the foundation markup of any website implementation. As website creation tools have evolved, the process of creating a new website has become more accessible, however, these tools are still producing HTML as the end result.

The main reason why people question if HTML is still being used is due to website editing tools also called WYSIWYG.

These tools provide a layer of abstraction for those who want to create their own website without having technical knowledge.

They are great way to avoid the cost of hiring a developer to build a website for a business or product. These tools make people feel relatively comfortable with creating a website.

But they come with their own caveats, let’s outline a few of them here.

Bad Code Generation

Once you get passed the intuitive interfaces of these tools and you have built a website, you are left with the tools generated code. If a developer were to closely examine this output, they might be surprised with the quality.

Not only is the code generated without readability in mind but if there is something wrong with the outputted HTML, than the only way to service it is to go back to the editor itself.

This can actually force you to use the editor to try and solve problem that might not be supported in the tool.

This can lead to problems for specific edge cases that don’t fit into a editor tools capabilities to solve.

Layout Limitations

While these tools can be great to create simple HTML layout and structures, once a more complex layout is needed (perhaps with dynamic data) the limitations of these tools become more apparent.

An idea for a unique design might be stopped in its tracks because of the lack of flex-ability in an editing tools layout. This can force a website to be structured in a more rigid way.

Because of this, most businesses don’t want to create their website on a cookie cutter template that other brands will share with them.

Having a homogenous grid design is often considered undesirable for those that are trying to stand out.

The majority of big branded sites tend to not use any website creation tool. sites such as Twitter, Google, and Amazon are all handcrafted with dynamic data and custom user interaction in mind.

Are Websites still Relevant?

Another common concern among prospective website creators is whether or not website are still relevant in todays branding process.

Platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Facebook have been highlighted to be very effective in terms of highlighting a business services.

The ability to capture the attention of a global audience is paramount to any business’s success, so are websites still relevant?

Even with social media being known as one the quickest ways to establish a digital presence, it still only acts as an alternative communication channel to get traffic to the main digital platform, your website.

This because your website allows you to better control the narrative of your business or product. With so much more customisable elements at play, the ability to create a unique experience for customers is extremely valuable. 

This creative freedom is somewhat inhibited on social media platforms, where your profile is adhering to the design and colours specified by the platform owner.

With your own website, you are essentially controlling the platform for your outreach. You are not constricted by technical rules of social media platforms as they may inhibit your overall conversions and success.

Analytics

Perhaps one the most important elements to having your own platform is the ability to track your visitors/customers.

Using tools like Google Analytics, you have a complete overview of your websites visitors.

You are able to tell, where they are coming from, how long did they stay on the page, as well as the pages they navigated to.

All these helpful metrics can greatly assist in making decisions to change what your user is seeing, and how it actually helps to get conversions.

SEO

Of course, the importance of search engine optimisation should not be overlooked.

If your website is optimised correctly and it contains the right content, you can really take advantages of strong search presence. While ranking well on Google is not easy, the payoff can be immense once your platform starts to get traction.

You have huge chance to get traffic from Google once your are providing your users with helpful content and resources.

On the technical side of things, Google is looking for important optimisation in your websites HTML, that helps them to interpret your website correctly.

The correct technical markup will allow Google to determine the structure of your content correctly. As a result, they will be able to correlate this information with an abundance of related search terms.

This reenforces just how important HTML still is in todays world of SEO.

Overall, websites speak about the brand a business is trying to depict. They are as relevant as ever and HTML still remains as the foundation of all instances of the web.

Is HTML useful to learn?

WYSIWYG tools are very useful and provide a great purpose by helping to create straightforward websites. You may wonder, with having these tools available is is still worth learning HTML?

After all, these tools are producing HTML as their output. What would be the point if the tool can handle all the heavy lifting?

As mentioned earlier, WYSIWYG tools can limit creativity somewhat, there will always be a market for high quality structured HTML.

Since HTML is the main language for the layout of page/document on the web, learning it is always a useful skill to pursue.

But it is not very useful in isolation, the other building blocks around it still have to learned as well.

To become effective it has to be combined with CSS and JavaScript for it to be of any practical use. The stack of standard website is HTML,CSS and JavaScript. These languages, in unison, provide build the website that we experience today.

Even when HTML takes a backseat to some advanced JavaScript frameworks, understanding the semantics of HTML markup is still essential.

It still has a huge knock on affect for SEO, visual structure, machine readability ( how the browser interpets your page ).

Some still like to downplay HTML’s role in the wider web development ecosystem. However, it really is the foundation for all interaction of the web. 

In addition, HTML also does not remain static, updates are frequently made to the way it works.

HTML5 revamped the structure of its elements and semantics. Its future updates and general roadmap can be viewed here.

What are the limitation of HTML?

No language is perfect and HTML is no different. There are of course limitations for how it is used in the web.

Lets highlight a few points.

Unpredictable across browsers

There can be visual inconsistencies between different browsers of the same web page. Between Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox mismatches exist when it comes to interpreting HTML elements.

The majority of time, these differences are relatively minor. The most common cases include different padding, margins and general spacing.

However, more significant differences can occur. Namely, elements can be completing missing in one browser and not the other. This is due to the browser not having parity when interpreting specific HTML tags or properties.

Dynamic data

When information a webpage is subject to change, HTML is not the most optimum way of showing these changes without additional scripting ( usually from JavaScript).

By itself, HTML is static and if you want to change information in its elements it will have to be written again.

Lets illustrate this with an example. Most emails are made of HTML elements. If a newsletters has been sent out in an email with a spelling mistake or wrong information. It is unable to update itself without being sent out again.

Conclusion

Where to go from here? Well, I hope I’ve highlighted the importance of HTML in todays modern web. It is still a staple for everything to do with websites.

And while website building platforms are great, they have distracted everyone from whats under the hood of their produced websites. HTML still remains king for all things layout and markup.

If you are looking to impress you target audience with a well crafted and visually appealing website that incorporates the best things about your brand, it is always worth considering employing experienced website creators.

 

Gareth Dunne

Full Stack Developer and creator of JSdiaries. Passionate about the latest in web technologies and how it can provide value for my clients.