2019/03 Are We Failing HTML 101?

When I was at school there was no HTML, no internet, no websites, but there was BASIC with which we programmed small games – and which was a hell of a lot of fun.  As I have written before, learning some sort of code, markup, programming language what you will is if not very important certainly very rewarding.  Much like learning Japanese, even if you never get to Japan.  Language, any language, is the key to accessing other worlds – and accessibility (whether it be accessibility to knowledge, to chances, to a doorway, to vote, to fresh water) is what gives us our freedom.  I mention this as eyes were raised in many circles this week by the disappointing results of the WebAIM Million report.

The WebAIM Millions is an automated accessibility analysis of the home pages of the top one million web sites currently on the internet.  https://webaim.org/projects/million/

Concerns were expressed and detailed on the websites of many of the most influential thinkers in our industry including those of Ethan Marcotte and Eric Bailey.

„How can we expect the advanced, state-driven stuff to be built robustly if we’re all failing HTML 101?“ Eric Bailey

„ … this is one of the more depressing things I’ve read in some time.“ Ethan Marcotte

Just like your average website, HTML has come a long way.  Php, javascript, jquery, DHTML, CSS … while the code behind websites is often in flux, HTML remains.  The earliest example of HTML used (November 3, 1992) is still visible today – https://www.w3.org/History/19921103-hypertext/hypertext/WWW/Link.html  – and a simple bit of code it is:

<title>Hypertext Links</title>
<h1>Links and Anchors</h1>
A link is the connection between one piece of
<a href=WhatIs.html>hypertext</a> and another.

Compare a few lines of code at random from your own website and you see some new kids on the block like classes and divs to name a few:

<div class=”textwidget”>
<p>Entry-level user? Is WordPress right for you?
<a class=”workshops” href=”/workshops-coaching/”>Start today!</a>
</p>
</div>

Learning, understanding, and correctly writing HTML is important not only for yourself but for others. If you build something that does not work, it will be difficult for anyone to use. If something goes wrong in your website, it’s important that you are able to fix it or at least understand what has gone wrong so that you can brief someone who can fix it.  It is important in the same way that understanding accounting is to a Chef.  If you can’t understand what your accountant is doing you may go out of business while your accountant may move to the Bahamas.

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. Tim Berners-Lee

Further Reading

https://www.w3.org/History/19921103-hypertext/hypertext/WWW/Link.html
https://ethanmarcotte.com/wrote/the-web-we-broke/
https://ericwbailey.design/writing/2019-03-05-fighting-uphill.html