Blog: What is HTML?


What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML5 is the latest standard version of the Internet's World Wide Web. HTML is the primary language used to build and create web pages that is displayed on your favorite web browser e.g. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Apple Safari. HTML is used to display the text content, images and links on a web page that can be found on the world wide web (www).

By Websters Dictionary's definition of HTML is a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages. HTML is used to build web pages on the world wide web.

Per HTML (the Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are two of the core technologies for building Web pages. HTML provides the structure of the page, CSS the (visual and aural) layout, for a variety of devices. Along with graphics and scripting, HTML and CSS are the basis of building Web pages and Web Applications.

Since HTML is the language for describing the structure of Web pages, HTML gives web authors the means to:

- Publish online documents with headings, text, tables, lists, photos, etc.

- Retrieve online information via hypertext links, at the click of a button.

- Design forms for conducting transactions with remote services, for use in searching for information, making reservations, ordering products, etc.

- Include spread-sheets, video clips, sound clips, and other applications directly in their documents.

Advantages of Using HTML in Web Design

There are many advantages to using strictly HTML in your website design, especially, if your website will consists of less than 100 pages or less. One hundred pages is probably the limit I would recommend when building and managing a business website. Anything higher, I would recommend having a content management system (CMS). However, I would only add this CMS as an add-on to my already large HTML website - not to replace it.

  • Advantage #1 - Your website is secured! HTML web pages are super secured. Not only they have to hack into the server to get to the HTML web pages, they need to have the proper permission to edit the HTML pages and to Save the HTML pages. There are no moving parts to an HTML website so there's nothing that could break down or provide access to hackers.

  • Advantage #2 - Your website is automatically search engine friendly. HTML is native to the World Wide Web which means it will be native to search engine programs as well. HTML pages are automatically indexed by search engines without delay and ranked according to its content and relevancy. The more authority you have over your subject, the higher your ranking. Authority meaning, how much relevant and factual content you have published on your website. The most content has the highest authority.

  • Advantage #3 - It has staying power on search engine results. When you drive traffic to your website, it will push your HTML5 website higher up in ranking and it will stay there indefinitely. The more traffic you drive to your website, the higher the ranking, and the longer it stays there. Naturally, the ranking could go down eventually if you stop promoting the website or because your business has closed.

  • Advantage #4 - Rank High on Search Results. If you combine the first two advantages together, having plenty of relevant and factual content on your website PLUS you are driving traffic to your website by various means (print, online or tv ads, etc.), the result will be high or at the top in organic search results. Once it gets there, it stays there. If you do the same exact set of actions on other various platforms (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, SquareSpace,, etc.), you won't get the same results. In fact, in some cases, they can't even find you even if they search for your domain name! That's how bad it gets. With HTML, you're domain name is guaranteed to be found because it is indexed automatically and immediately and gauged for ranking.

  • Advantage #5- Low Cost In Advertising Dollars. When you pay for advertising e.g. Pay-Per-Click Campaigns via Google, Bing, Yahoo or Facebook, etc., your cost is sometimes determined based on your search engine compatability and ranking. The more search engine friendly your website, the lower your advertising cost. Even better, your pay-per-click cost, for example, will be minimal if your website already ranks high organically. If you don't rank high already, after 2-weeks of advertising, your website is bound to rank higher.

  • Advantage #6 - Low Maintenance Cost. HTML5 will not require any updates for years to come and even then, it is not required to apply any upgrades. It does not lessen the validity nor security of the website by not updating. In fact, the security level and functional stays the same - no more, no less. Even if the upgrades is never applied, the website will remain search engine friendly and secured just the same. This is due to all browsers and operating systems being backward compatibile to all HTML versions, forever.

  • Advantage #7 - Easy to Modify Basic HTML is the easiest language to learn. HTML was created and developed for the laymans to provide the ability to post content on the Internet. Yes, of course, it has gone quite more technical and complicated but the basics is still the same. Since it is pretty easy to update text content, why not send it to your webmaster for handling, instead. It should not cost a lot since it takes less time to implement. By having a professional webmaster take care of this, it will keep the website codes consistent and in tact.

  • Advantage #8 - Easy to Expand Add as much relevant content to your website as possible. As long as it is in a proper hiearchy, it should be pretty easy to implement and maintain - and the same for search engines. Create subdirectories or categories and install your content under each subject categories and folders. If you have content from various writers, then it is time to implement a content management system.

  • Advantage #9 - Advanced Functionality e.g. Ecommerce or Membership, No Problem! There are various third party software that we can purchase to add to our HTML website to produce online functionalities such as ecommerce or membership driven website. DO NOT wipe out your entire HTML website and replace it with another website just so you can have advanced functionalities on your website. Instead, add to your existing HTML website the functionalities you need e.g. online shopping cart, membership software, etc.

Now that you know the advantages to having an HTML website, there are, what many would consider, disadvantages to using an HTML website. The main disadvantage, in my opinion, is probably control. For owners, they feel they don't have control if they don't have access or if they don't have a way to edit the website on their own. Which is why a lot of platforms became popular because "everyone" says "I want access. I want control." But in reality, most never even login to post or edit content. Anyone can learn HTML in a matter of days and take over the entire website management process and access if they really want to. Below are considered disadvantages to an HTML website:

Disadvantages of Using HTML in Web Design

  • Disadvantage #1 - Control: It is best that you don't mess around with HTML if you don't know what you're doing. HTML has become a little bit more complex than in the past. But the basic tags still applies so it is not hard to learn HTML, if you have to. If you want to take control, learn HTML.

  • Disadvantage #2 - Access: Not knowing HTML means not having immediate access to your web pages. Access is somewhat illusional. Even if you have access, you're not going in if you don't know what you're doing. In reality, you don't need access, you just need a trustworthy webmaster.

  • Disadvantage #3 - Cost: Having to send all of your updates and modifications to your webmaster means cost per hour. If you can do it yourself, that could save you some money. But think of the money you saved by not having to pay for WordPress updates, modifications and changes. WordPress updates happens at least twice a month and requires that you backup your website before applying any updates.

  • Disadvantage #4 - Features: A lot of webmasters will complain that they can't do what they want with HTML. This is somewhat true. It requires planning and proper execution. With other platforms, it takes less time. You simply select, install, apply, configure the settings and start using. If you don't like it, simply remove it. Not with HTML. You have to purchase the software, if any, then do the same: install, configure, and integrate with website.

A brief history of HTML

HTML was originally developed by Tim Berners-Lee while at CERN, and popularized by the Mosaic browser developed at NCSA. During the course of the 1990s it has blossomed with the explosive growth of the Web. During this time, HTML has been extended in a number of ways. The Web depends on Web page authors and vendors sharing the same conventions for HTML. This has motivated joint work on specifications for HTML.

HTML 2.0 (November 1995, see [RFC1866]) was developed under the aegis of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to codify common practice in late 1994. HTML+ (1993) and HTML 3.0 (1995, see [HTML30]) proposed much richer versions of HTML. Despite never receiving consensus in standards discussions, these drafts led to the adoption of a range of new features. The efforts of the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML Working Group to codify common practice in 1996 resulted in HTML 3.2 (January 1997, see [HTML32]). Most people agree that HTML documents should work well across different browsers and platforms. Achieving interoperability lowers costs to content providers since they must develop only one version of a document. If the effort is not made, there is much greater risk that the Web will devolve into a proprietary world of incompatible formats, ultimately reducing the Web's commercial potential for all participants.

Each version of HTML has attempted to reflect greater consensus among industry players so that the investment made by content providers will not be wasted and that their documents will not become unreadable in a short period of time.

HTML has been developed with the vision that all manner of devices should be able to use information on the Web: PCs with graphics displays of varying resolution and color depths, cellular telephones, hand held devices, devices for speech for output and input, computers with high or low bandwidth, and so on.

Introduction to HTML

An HTML 5.x document is composed of three parts:

  • -- a line containing HTML version information,

  • -- a declarative header section (delimited by the HEAD element),

  • -- a body, which contains the document's actual content. The body may be implemented by the BODY element or the FRAMESET element.

Here's an example of a simple HTML document:

      <TITLE>My first HTML document</TITLE>
      <P>Hello world!


HTML 5x extends HTML with mechanisms for style sheets, scripting, frames, embedding objects, improved support for right to left and mixed direction text, richer tables, and enhancements to forms, offering improved Accessibility for people with disabilities.


This version of HTML has been designed with the help of experts in the field of internationalization, so that documents may be written in every language and be transported easily around the world. This has been accomplished by incorporating [RFC2070], which deals with the internationalization of HTML.

One important step has been the adoption of the ISO/IEC:10646 standard as the document character set for HTML. This is the world's most inclusive standard dealing with issues of the representation of international characters, text direction, punctuation, and other world language issues.

HTML now offers greater support for diverse human languages within a document. This allows for more effective indexing of documents for search engines, higher-quality typography, better text-to-speech conversion, better hyphenation, etc.


As the Web community grows and its members diversify in their abilities and skills, it is crucial that the underlying technologies be appropriate to their specific needs. HTML has been designed to make Web pages more Accessible to those with physical limitations. HTML 5x developments inspired by concerns for Accessibility include:

  • - Better distinction between document structure and presentation, thus encouraging the use of style sheets instead of HTML presentation elements and attributes.

  • - Better forms, including the addition of access keys, the ability to group form controls semantically, the ability to group SELECT options semantically, and active labels.

  • - The ability to markup a text description of an included object (with the OBJECT element).

  • - A new client-side image map mechanism (the MAP element) that allows authors to integrate image and text links.

  • - The requirement that alternate text accompany images included with the IMG element and image maps included with the AREA element.

  • - Support for the title and lang attributes on all elements.

  • - Support for the ABBR and ACRONYM elements.

  • - A wider range of target media (tty, braille, etc.) for use with style sheets.

  • - Better tables, including captions, column groups, and mechanisms to facilitate non-visual rendering.

  • - Long descriptions of tables, images, frames, etc.

  • - Authors who design pages with Accessibility issues in mind will not only receive the blessings of the Accessibility community, but will benefit in other ways as well: well-designed HTML documents that distinguish structure and presentation will adapt more easily to new technologies.


The new table model in HTML is based on [RFC1942]. Authors now have greater control over structure and layout (e.g., column groups). The ability of designers to recommend column widths allows user agents to display table data incrementally (as it arrives) rather than waiting for the entire table before rendering.

Note. At the time of writing, some HTML authoring tools rely extensively on tables for formatting, which may easily cause Accessibility problems.

Compound documents

HTML now offers a standard mechanism for embedding generic media objects and applications in HTML documents. The OBJECT element (together with its more specific ancestor elements IMG and APPLET) provides a mechanism for including images, video, sound, mathematics, specialized applications, and other objects in a document. It also allows authors to specify a hierarchy of alternate renderings for user agents that don't support a specific rendering.

Style sheets

Style sheets simplify HTML markup and largely relieve HTML of the responsibilities of presentation. They give both authors and users control over the presentation of documents -- font information, alignment, colors, etc.

Style information can be specified for individual elements or groups of elements. Style information may be specified in an HTML document or in external style sheets.

The mechanisms for associating a style sheet with a document is independent of the style sheet language.

Before the advent of style sheets, authors had limited control over rendering. HTML 3.2 included a number of attributes and elements offering control over alignment, font size, and text color. Authors also exploited tables and images as a means for laying out pages. The relatively long time it takes for users to upgrade their browsers means that these features will continue to be used for some time. However, since style sheets offer more powerful presentation mechanisms, the World Wide Web Consortium will eventually phase out many of HTML's presentation elements and attributes. Throughout the specification elements and attributes at risk are marked as "deprecated". They are accompanied by examples of how to achieve the same effects with other elements or style sheets.


Through scripts, authors may create dynamic Web pages (e.g., "smart forms" that react as users fill them out) and use HTML as a means to build networked applications.

The mechanisms provided to include scripts in an HTML document are independent of the scripting language.

Enrique Tan, Website Developer,
Created: September 16, 2003
Updated: January 8, 2018