Leading-Edge Users Report Power, Pitfalls of HTML5
At the MPA Digital: Technology conference in New York last Thursday, three publishers and a developer talked about the power, potential and pitfalls of HTML5, providing a snapshot of what the technology means to publishers.
Pete Marsh, Executive Vice President of Product Strategy at Atex, said Web developers and publishers face similar challenges: wanting to deploy solutions across as many devices as possible. "The quest is to code once and deploy anywhere. HTML5 provides that development platform," he said.
Marsh said the goal is to build in flexibility allowing back-end workflows and websites to adapt themselves to any environment, an idea known as responsive design. HTML5, he said, enables responsive design by facilitating create-once-deliver-anywhere functionality, an ideal which, in addition to helping coders, benefits editors, designers and marketers.
For designers and editors, there is no need to change workflows, duplicate content or otherwise create extra steps to deliver content across channels. Marketers see SEO advantages in not creating "walled-garden" apps or separate mobile and tablet websites. "With responsive design you have one site, one single set of search criteria," Marsh said. "Link popularity can be maintained which translates to higher search engine rankings and greater searchability for your site."
End users like responsive design because pages look great and refresh faster, he added. On the other hand, initial upload times can be longer because "most of the heavy lifting is done in the browser itself" in rendering elements like images.
Frank Livaudais, Chief Technology Officer at CDS Global, noted that Web apps allow publishers to improve searchability and avoid the hassle of the app store approval process, while Larry Chevres, CTO at New York Media, spoke of the UI (user interface) challenge with ads.
Advertisers, Chevres said, are still unsure what optimizing ads for HTML5 will entail. "The announcement of Adobe dropping Flash on mobile has not spurred development of HTML5 ads like we hoped," he said. While he would like to see HTML5 provide a single solution for ad delivery, the idea is still controversial because older browsers using Flash still need to be supported. Once standards are set and adoption is widespread (still a few years away), development costs will decrease even as the user experience improves, he said.