What is HTML5? – Essential Guide 2020

By Dan Barraclough

What is HTML5?

You have probably heard of ‘HTML5’ before but you may be a little bit confused about the concept. You are not alone; even those in the web development industry admit that HTML5 can be somewhat unclear. HTML is an abbreviation of ‘HyperText Markup Language' and it is this language that plays a vital role in defining the appearance of a web page.

Essentially, HTML acts as the building blocks of all websites, with the language instructing browsers on how to display texts, images, and such like correctly. Nevertheless, to create a truly impressive web page, you’ll also need to couple it with plug-ins, such as Flash and CSS.

So, you now know what HTML is, but what is HTML5? As you might have guessed already, it is the fifth and latest version of HTML, which has been designed to solve all of the issues that have plagued this web language, with HTML4 widely criticised for its lack of functionality and compatibility problems.

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Functionalities of HTML5

The purpose of HTML5 is to ensure the web browser ‘understands’ how your web page should be displayed. There are an array of exciting new syntaxes within HTML5, including < audio > and < video >. For the first time, multimedia support is available via HTML, which means videos and audio can be easily embedded into your site.

Another exciting function is < canvas >, which allows graphic drawing. In addition to this, < aside > is the syntax that is used to describe any content aside from the page content, for instance, this could mean the lateral sidebar.

You also have the HTML5 sitemap, which is imperative for SEO and website navigation purposes. There are many other syntax tags to discover and those mentioned here merely scratch the surface of the total available.

Benefits of HTML5

It’s mobile ready

HTML5 is the most mobile ready tool for the creation of apps and responsive websites, which is doubly important when you consider the ever growing dominance of web traffic from mobile technology. HTML5 makes mobile optimisation easy.

Storage capabilities

Local storage is available via multiple windows. Most people describe the storage offering as a cross between a client-side database and regular old cookies. This feature also means you can reduce cookie size, which will enhance website response time.

Cross browser support

HTML5 is supported across all platforms, including Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.

Dynamic websites

One of the most compelling reasons to use HTML5 is because you’re going to benefit from a website that is more dynamic, and thus provide the user with the enjoyable experience they want. Video backgrounds and better interactions are all possible through HTML5, and this is bound to have a positive impact on your users.

Video and audio support

As mentioned earlier, you can easily input video and audio on your website.

How to make the most of HTML5

To make the most of HTML5, you are advised to use a current major browser. While HTML5 is widely compatible, newer browsers are more reliable and safer. You are also recommended to embrace new and innovative features, such as video support, without unnecessarily stuffing things into your site for the sake of it.

When it comes to videos, you have an excellent marketing tool that appeals to users and search engines too. The user should be considered at every turn as you develop the HTML5 for your site – it’s about giving the users what they want, as opposed to what you think they need.

There are many HTML5 enhancements available and these should be utilised. However, you will still find that there are a lot of developers who have embraced HTML5 but have skipped some of the best new features, with client-side validation being a prime example.

How to choose the best HTML5 development company

There are many aspects to consider when choosing the best HTML5 development company for you. Here is a breakdown of the main factors you need to bear in mind:

Development process

Every company has their own development procedure. Before you agree to their services, thoroughly understand their process and ensure that it can be tailored to your requirements.


Experience is vital. You don’t want someone who is learning on the job. You want to be reassured that they have used HTML5 many times before. Do they have experience in developing effective websites in your related field?


Take a look at the work they have done so far. You will instantly get a feel as to whether this is someone you want working on your website or not. A good portfolio is one that is creative and diverse.

How does their site measure up?

A developer’s own website is one of the biggest signs of their quality. If their website takes ages to load, why should you expect the site they develop for you to be any different?


Take the time to read reviews that have been left by previous clients. This will give you an honest indication of the level of quality and creativity offered by the company. If the web is flooded with negative feedback, you know to look elsewhere.


Never go for the cheapest company you lay your eyes on, as you are likely to suffer from a lack of quality. Value for money is what is important. So, consider all other bullet points mentioned, and let price be the final determining factor.

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Companies offering HTML5 services


VeriQual create out-of-the-box, cutting edge mobile apps by using the HTML platform. They have over five years of experience, and a diverse and comprehensive portfolio.

Fat Media

Rated as one of the UK’s top ten digital agencies, Fat Media draws on more than 43 years of experience, and the latest front-end technology of CSS3 and HTML5 to deliver bespoke website solutions.


Appnovation has an extensive amount of experience in creating feature-packed, high-performing web and mobile experiences using HTML5. They also provide consultancy services.

Magic Web Solutions

With their core expertise in web-based software, Magic Web Solutions is a boutique software/web development business that uses HTML5 to design and deliver web applications.

HTML5 prices & rates

Fixed rates are exceptionally uncommon in the web development industry, as all projects have differing demands and requirements. The best thing to do is acquire several quotes to get a good idea regarding the average price being charged.

You should also be aware that as HTML5 is responsive and can run across multiple devices it can actually save you money on software and development costs in the long run.

Next Steps

Find out how much a website costs in our handy Expert Market guide.

Who is the best person to write the HTML5 coding for your website? You’ll find the answer in our comparison of Software Engineers, Computer Programmers and Web Developers.

Or you can check out these 15 brilliant HTML5 eCommerce sites.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a writer for Expert Market, specialising in a range of cool topics. He loves web design and all things UX, but also the hardware stuff like postage metres and photocopiers.

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