January 16, 2012

HTML5 Web Design: Shiny future, or not?

People frequently hail some of the new features coming in with HTML5 as the second coming of the internet. Something that will kill off Flash and bring a world of rich interaction and media. It’s not hard to see why given some of the amazing animations and user interfaces that have come about in recent years. However the technology is still in its infancy, and whilst browsing the homepage of MSN UK recently, I had to wonder whether the future may not be as shiny as hoped once commercial interests really take hold.

MSN’s website is guilty of one hideous mistake many big commercial sites do, and that’s that they’ve abused Flash advertising to an excessive degree. On the day in question, I went on the site to be greeted by a large Mary Poppins, floating over the top of the whole site to plug something or other, rather than actually being able to get to the site I was after. Needless to say, I left the whole site quite quickly! This is no one off, as it’s usually car manufacturers going overboard with their ads. At the moment such advertising is the reserve of Flash, thus it is fairly easy to block by just blocking Flash. However as the web moves forward, it’s inevitable such abusive advertising will just change to use HTML5 instead.

And what happens at that point? As HTML5 is not a plugin but directly integrated into the browser’s rendering, it can’t just be ‘disabled’. Instead exactly what happened with popup ads (you older folks may remember we used to have those) will come about. The browser vendors will have to start introducing more and more options to ‘block sites from performing xyz feature’ and pretty soon the shiny new HTML5 will end up crippled once more.

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