Trends in Developing and Publishing Content: How HTML5 and Mobile Change the Game
Greg Fagan, Sales Director, Data Conversion Laboratory
Publishing your content to multiple devices creates lots of options for your users to take their content with them and experience it in any format on any device. The flourishing mobile market permanently opened the door into communication and revenue-generating opportunities that didn’t exist 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Smartphones, tablets, and wearables such as smartwatches enable users to experience content anywhere at any time. And users are often vocal about their expectations. From companies that already provide mobile-accessible content to those that are just realizing it’s time to embrace the trend, organizations can leverage an HTML5, future-ready solution, to deliver the content users demand.
What is the Current State of Mobile?
To build trust in your brand and deliver great customer experiences, you must produce accurate, relevant and timely content—and you must produce a lot of it. But you can’t achieve this goal unless you know where your customers are. And audiences are leaving their old desktops in droves, in favor of mobile devices. The pie chart below incorporates data from Millennial Media’s 2014 report on online content consumption.
The term “online” used to mean available solely on a computer with an internet browser. Today the term continues to expand as quickly as the number of mobile devices that enter the market. As shown in the pie chart, 56% of online content in the US is now consumed via smartphones (44%) and tablets (12%), while just 44% is consumed on desktop computers. Streaming radio and games are almost all mobile, and social media and weather information aren’t far behind.
On the content creation side of the equation, plenty of content authors don’t create content that displays and functions well on mobile devices, for example, because buyers may prefer viewing large images of products that are best displayed on a desktop computer. In fact, even though most people don’t consume all content on a mobile device, cross-platform consumption is quite common. Those vocal consumers are looking for content that crosses platforms.
Why Consider an HTML5 Solution?
The data begins to make the business case for mobile content, but to be complete and convincing, your case needs solutions for cross-platform consumption. A code base that works across all platforms and devices not only meet the needs of the mobile marketplace, but also supports all other platforms and devices. That’s why we recommend an HTML5 solution.
According to VisionMobile, Developer Economics 2013 developers who write the code list seven key features of HTML5 that make it attractive to them and the content providers they support:
Cross-platform code portability and low-cost development top the list of benefits. Developers like to write a single code that will work everywhere, and content providers like the savings realized by developing one version that works across operating system and devices. In addition to more traditional development shops, many powerful and advertising firms have thrown their weight behind HTML5, and it is increasingly used in the hugely popular gaming market.
You can choose from four main approaches to get your HTML5 solution to market. They all have a distinct advantage over native apps you might be familiar with (such as Angry Birds or Uber), which are written for specific hardware programs and stored locally thus requiring different versions based on operating system (Android or iOS). HTML5 apps work across all platforms and devices.
Current HTML5 Limitations and Recommendations for Maximum Value
VisionMobile’s 2013 survey went over 6,000 developers worldwide, supplemented by interviews with 32 top experts on HTML5 vs. native, analysis of more than 30,000 Android Play apps and evaluation of 42 HTML5 frameworks and tools. The results showed that 61% of the developers write code for mobile browsers, but 63% of US-based Android Play apps cannot be written in HTML5 based on lack of application programming interface (API) browser functionality. APIs are used in computer programming to provide standards and protocols that developers can use to create consistent web experiences. When the browser support catches up for power management and Wi-Fi APIs, the number of Android apps you could implement using HTML5 could grow to 58%.
Of the developers who responded, 39% said they work with the other three options to get mobile to market. The research indicated that US Android apps can be implemented with HTML5 using these three options as follows:
- 49% with native wrappers
- 63% with web-to-native converters
HTML5 as a standard is still being built, so there are some limitations to consider until the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) completes the standard. In theory, HTML5 should work across all platforms and devices consistently, but in practice, it presents a technology challenge. The need to access more hardware, APIs and Wi-Fi can also pose a problem with limited resources.
Top 10 Reasons to Mobilize Your Content with HTML5
One of the first steps in future-proofing your content is ditching Flash development, as it is rarely supported and continues to fade into oblivion. Flash was never supported on iOS, and forcing users to continually install plug-ins just irritates them. Native apps still have a significant place in the market, but you should consider moving to HTML5 to create web apps. Here’s why:
1. Low-cost development and distribution
HTML5 apps and sites, only need to be developed once, cost less and allow you to bypass app stores if desired.
Semantics and ARIA are the two main factors in the improved accessibility of HTML5 sites. HTML semantic headings make it easy for screen readers to access content accurately and improve user experience.
ARIA, a W3C spec, assigns specific roles to elements in HTML to create those essential signposts readers are used to (header, navigation or article). HTML5 is able to validate these attributes.
3. Video and Audio Support
HTML5 tags for video and audio make content truly accessible, unlike the previous iterations of technology nightmares. The tags treat content as images, and attributes for height, width and autoplay can be coded.
Doctype provides instructions to browsers to indicate the HTML version. And with HTML5 development, doctype is all you need. No more cutting and pasting long, unreadable lines of code.
5. Cleaner Code
Many developers are passionate about simple, elegant code that is easy to read, and HTML5 offers just that. It easily separates semantic meaning from style and content.
6. Smarter Storage
HTML5 offers local storage, a cross between cookies and a client-side database. It enables storage across multiple windows and improves security and performance.
7. Better Interactions
Developers have tons of useful APIs to choose from, including drag and drop, offline storage, browser history management, document editing and timed media playback. These APIs deliver superior interactions for users.
8. Game Development
The <canvas> tag is key for game development. It provides a mobile-friendly way to develop games your users will find fun and interactive.
9. Legacy/Cross-browser Support
Modern browsers support HTML5 (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9 and Opera). HTML5 doctype was created to make things easier even in old browsers.
New HTML5 geolocation APIs make location, whether generated via GPS or other methods, directly available to any HTML5-compatible browser-based application.
Rapid development of mobile solutions means more and more users want content that is portable. HTML5 will replace Flash, so all mobile web app development will follow it as a framework. From companies already publishing mobile content to those who are ready to embrace the trend, users demand mobile content, and by getting it to them, you open the door into new markets.
- Millennial Media/comScore Report: http://www.millennialmedia.com/press/cross-screen-study-reveals-70-percent-of-digital-users-access-internet-across-multiple-devices
- VisionMobile Report: https://www.developereconomics.com/reports/can-html5-compete-native/
- HTML5 standard still under development: http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/master/single-page.html