HTML5 provides many benefits to web designers. For example, the canvas tag lets you create dynamic graphics with a scripting language. The video and audio tags make it easier to integrate rich media onto your site, removing the need for users to download third party software like Flash, Windows Media Player or QuickTime in order to see videos or listen to audio. Furthermore, HTML5 is free where Adobe’s Flash development kit costs several hundreds of dollars.
Another major benefit of HTML5 functionality is that it can collect data from WiFi towers and GPS for geolocation, an important step in displaying international pricing to regional customers. It also caches a site’s files locally, providing access to content even when there is no internet connection. This functionality gives developers more control over how applications behave offline and speeds up load times in subsequent visits.
However, the current state of affairs isn’t all puppy dogs and sweet smelling roses, and you don’t want to fall prey to the ease of development. While HTML5 makes fancy web development a whole lot easier than in the past, browser support is not quite there. As the infographic shows, not one of the major browsers provide full support for all of the HTML5 capabilities.
Therefore, you’ll still need to support legacy browsers based on your typical site visitor’s profile. If your product targets iPhone and iPad users, HTML5 is the way to go. If the majority of your traffic is stuck using IE6, you’ll have to design with those users in mind. The ability to create slick, interactive design elements and deploy them quickly is offset by the fact that only a small portion of your traffic can view those elements.
The key here, as it often is, is to know your audience.