HTML5 will change design – if we let it

New capabilities offer potential, but devs question coverage focus

An Event Apart has been doing its thing in San Francisco, and one of the speakers was Jen Simmons. In HTML5 APIs Will Change the Web: And Your Designs, she said HTML was "more than paving the cowpaths. It's more than markup. There's a lot of stuff in the spec about databases and communication protocols and blahdiblah backend juju. Some of that stuff is pretty radical. And it will change how you design websites."

As outlined by Luke Wroblewski on his blog, the talk by Simmons argued existing HTML5 coverage tends to focus on new elements, despite there being a "whole additional set of technologies coming that web creators need to be aware of: HTML5 APIs and beyond". Simmons talked about how web designers have been working within the limitations of relatively basic web technology, and have almost stopped thinking about such constraints, but this is not where the web will be in the near future, owing to rapid evolution, in part driven by HTML5 APIs. The various examples clearly imagine a much more app-like environment, but driven by open standards, the beginnings of which we're already seeing online. Additionally, Simmons said people need to rethink how content is created, and finally break from design's past in order to fully take advantage of its future.

Bruce Lawson, Opera web evangelist and co-author of Introducing HTML5, told .net that he disagreed with any notion that existing HTML5 coverage was too hung up on new elements and not APIs: "I see nothing but discussions of new APIs, even those that aren't HTML5 – for example, WebGL and WebRTC. Perhaps I'm too much at the techie end of the spectrum!" But he did reckon there are problems with how HTML5 is covered in general, which leads to the issues regarding vision and potential that Simmons outlined: "There's too much misinformed coverage – that's the problem. First, HTML5 was going to rule the world and cure cancer. Then it was rubbish, because Mark Zuckerberg said so – except he didn't. HTML5 will change the way we design even further as we'll have more and more web apps, because HTML5 APIs allow us to do more. Pixel-perfect designers will lament that their user experiences don't perfectly fit certain native conventions. Users won't care."

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