The Internet is a many-splendored thing, but just what holds it all together? We’ve all heard of HTML, but do we really know what it means? I took a look a little closer…
Sometimes it can be hard to see through the bright lights and pretty colours of the internet. I’m not saying that as a patronising lear at those who don’t know the makeup of a website. I too, until recently, marvelled at just how good-looking the web really is without really delving into the behind-the-scenes action.
The World Wide Web is built on a foundation of Hypertext Markup Language, known to us as the more stylish and easier to say HTML. Forged in the flames of the early nineties, HTML has been hiding just out of view on almost every website we come into contact with, including Amazon, Facebook and (my personal favourite) PointerPointer. I should warn you that visiting PointerPointer is not very good for productivity.
HTML was created as a simplified form of Standard Generalised Markup Language (SGML), a spec built for document management and publishing. Although commonly referred to as a programming language, HTML is a markup language as it is used primarily for creating website layouts and making things look a whole lot prettier (isn’t our site just lovely? It’s all thanks to HTML). One big step that HTML took away from SGML was the introduction of the HREF element which allows users to direct their site visitors to external machines or storages; that’s links to you and me. We wrap text in HREF tags when we wish to direct someone elsewhere.
In its simplest form, HTML uses ‘tags’ which are essentially text commands within angle brackets. These instruct a website as to how to visually display any text or image within said tags. For example:
<strong>I Love UK2</strong>
By wrapping the above text in <strong> tags, I instruct the website to display that text in bold. This is a pretty basic use of tags. If you’d like to check out just how many ways you can change the way your site looks with just a pair of angle brackets, you can take a look at this list. Without HTML to give instruction to the website on how to display, the Internet would look like one giant jumble sale of words and pictures.
HTML grew with the web as it navigated the early nineties and things really took off, with varied versions of it resulting in discrepancies in the way a website was displayed in different browsers. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) put plans in motion to standardise HTML so that it became the global language that we know and love (and sometimes hate) today. Surprisingly, it was only in October last year, nearly 20 years after the initial recommendations were made, that HTML5 came into being, with the final revisions of the standardisation being put into effect. All browsers should now be displaying websites in the way that they initially intended.
A vast portion of our population is HTML literate, and web designers are HTML jedis; one of our own designers is home-grown, having taught himself the intricacies of HTML in his evenings. Broadly speaking, most people who are involved in the makeup of a website, or in website services (such as ourselves), will know a thing or two about angle brackets and just how they can be used to change the face of a business.
With a little help from Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which enhance basic HTML to display in a certain way, HTML is the self-styled (pun intended) King of the Internet, making sure your business has its most lovely face on (depending, of course, on personal preference) when facing your customers. If you’re unsure on just how to style your website, you should look into our website builder with built-in HTML to help you along the way.
Smarten up your website today with a little help from UK2.