Are you ready for a new Internet? Soon, the Internet will be “upgraded” to HTML5. Realize it or not, this is already changing the way the Internet works, and online marketers should already be planning for it.

The basic info: HTML5 is the latest version of the programming language known as Hypertext Protocol (HTML), the “markup language” in which the entire Internet is written. This is the code that tells browsers how websites look and operate. Currently, xHTML and HTML 4 are the dominant online languages, and most marketers are used to working with them (and their limitations).

The new version, HTML5, is being created to enable websites to offer richer features without the need for additional software or plugins; these features are big factors in Internet browsing, including improved online document editing, drag-and-drop features, better media and video playback, improved mobile interaction, and lots more. (It also incorporates a new “supercookie” that has online privacy advocates concerned.)  

Although it’s not certain when HTML5 will be fully implemented — perhaps not for another few years — some of the improvements are already in use. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera all support some of the new capabilities already. 

If you’re a developer or an online news freak, you probably already know all this and are salivating over HTML5’s new powers. But if you’re a casual affiliate, you’re probably intimidated by the thought of a complete Internet overhaul — essentially, your sites are all built, you’re already in business, and now you’re being told you have to move into a new building, right?

Well, not exactly. Your current website will still function after HTML5 is introduced. “You don’t need to throw away your existing markup. You don’t need to relearn things you already know. If your web application worked yesterday in HTML 4, it will still work today in HTML5,” explains Mark Pilgrim at the excellent “Dive into HTML5” primer

But if you use a lot of plugins (as many of us do), whether for media or for mobile, the truth is you’re your website may start to feel obsolete as other sites already using HTML5 programming dazzle visitors.  

So, while there’s no need to immediately go out and redesign your website, you should be taking the time to learn the fundamental differences that HTML5 offers, and which of those are currently ready for use. And Pilgrim’s book is a great guide for doing just that, as is this article addressing some of HTML5’s common misconceptions. We also recommend John Rhodes’ collection of HTML5 news and articles

Mobile Revolution

Specifically, you should be doing is thinking about HTML5’s new abilities for marketing your iGaming affiliate site on mobile devices. As Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer recently stated, “the lines are blurring between websites and applications, especially on mobile devices,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

And that may be the most immediate lesson to take home. Given that so much Internet access today is on mobile devices, the real wakeup call from HTML5 may be to ensure your site is engineered for mobile devices.

Nathan Denny
November 9, 2010

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