HTML5 and the Future of Online Marketing

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HTML5 is here, and it will save us all from everything. First of all, it will kill Flash. We’ll also have better video and audio, faster websites, easier-to-build Web pages, better animation, and improved in-browser games. Plus, HTML5 will save the global economy and provide tax breaks to everyone.

OK, maybe that last part is just wishful thinking.

For those not up-to-date on the latest Web trends, HTML5 is the newest (and much hyped) language for structuring and presenting content on the Web. It’s going to allow developers and coders to do some pretty amazing things online, which means new and creative online marketing opportunities for companies.

Wait? Going to?

Yes, “going to.” As in, some time in the future. There are some amazing things happening right now thanks to HTML5, like the site built around the Arcade Fire song “The Wilderness Downtown.”

But the problem with that site and others like it is that not every Web browser can support it. This is HTML5’s Achilles’ heel. If you clicked the above link while using Internet Explorer, you probably saw a page that stated, “This doesn’t work in your browser.” So unfortunately, you don’t get the HTML5 experience.

As much as I’d like to get on an already crowded soapbox and harp on Internet Explorer, that won’t fix anything, or make HTML5 function any better in that browser. Yes, HTML5 is the future, and it is a bright future, but it is still the future. There are a few simple things that can be done now with no real issues, but it’s not the “sexy” stuff. It’s behind-the-scenes work, like a simpler doctype and cleaner mark-up. You know, nerd stuff that doesn’t apply to most marketers.

With all that said, embracing the future now and using HTML5 shouldn’t be completely off limits. Knowing your audience and having the analytics to see what type of browsers they’re using can help marketers determine whether HTML5 is going to be a help or a hindrance to your marketing efforts right now.

If your stats show the majority of your visitors are using the latest and greatest browsers (Firefox 6, Chrome 14, and Safari 5), then jump on the HTML5 bandwagon and get your developers to start building now. However, if your stats show heavy use of older versions of Internet Explorer (6, 7, 8), then you should probably hold off until there is full-scale adoption of HTML5.

If you’re not ready to start using HTML5 just yet, then start brainstorming and thinking of creative ways you can use it for online marketing purposes in the future. Use the Arcade Fire song for inspiration.

May the force be with you!

This post is co-authored by Chris Heckman, senior web designer at Identity.

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