HTML is the backbone of any website. That’s the first thing people see. Without it, there would be no website.
This is why it is essential to follow good coding practices. If you don’t follow best practices, you create a terrible user experience for your web user even if you’re integrating best features like WooCommerce Variable Pricing on your Woo store.
There is always something latest to learn in HTML, whether new to coding or an experienced professional.
Let’s get started.
HTML Best Practices
HTML refers to a standard markup language used to display documents in a browser. HTML was first developed by Tim Berners Lee in 1990 while working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It was one of the vital, innovative technologies used to publish the world’s first website.
You can now revisit the original site thanks to CERN’s restoration project. Since then, HTML has been significantly updated and expanded, but its primary purpose for formatting and structuring web pages remains the same.
HTML best practices are a set of rules that help you build websites that are easy to maintain and read. Following are some guidelines to keep in mind when making an HTML-based website.
#1. Always Declare a Doctype
The doctype statement should be the first thing in your HTML documents. The doctype statement tells the browser about the XHTML standards you use and helps it read and visualize your markup correctly. I would recommend using the strict XHTML 1.0 document type.
Some developers find this a difficult choice because this particular standard is less forgiving than open or transitional document-type statements. Still, it also ensures that your code strictly adheres to the latest standards.
#2. Tags Placement
Developers know that tags help web browsers distinguish HTML content from regular content. HTML tags contain start, content, and end tags. However, they are often confused about the correct placement of the labels, the elements that require the titles to be closed, or the omission of the titles.
For example, where is the best place to put <script> tags?
Script tags are usually placed inside the <head> element. However, modern HTML best practice is to put them at the end of the document before closing the <body> tag to delay their download. The web page first loads a document object model (DOM), shows it to the user, and then requests scripts later, reducing the time to the first byte (TTFB).
The browser interprets your HTML document from top to bottom. So when it reads the header and arrives at the script tag, it launches a request to the server to receive the file. There’s nothing wrong with this process in itself, but when a page loads a large file, it takes a long time and significantly affects the user experience.
#3. Separate Content from Presentation
Your HTML is your content. CSS provides a visual representation of your content. Never mix the two.
Do not use inline styles in HTML. Instead, always create a separate CSS file for your classes. This will help you and future developers working on your code change the design faster and make your content more accessible for user agents to digest.
#4. Minify and Unify CSS
A simple website usually has one main CSS file and maybe a few more things, such as CSS recovery and browser-specific fixes. However, each CSS file must make an HTTP request, which slows down the site’s load time. The solution to this problem is to reduce (remove unnecessary characters, such as spaces, hyphens, and tabs) all your code and merge the files that can be incorporated into one file.
This will improve the website’s loading speed. The problem with this approach is that you have to “express” (because unformatted code is difficult to read) and repeat the minimization process every time you need to update your code. Hence, it is better to do it at the end of the production cycle.
From this list of CSS optimizers, you’ll find web tools for reducing and optimizing your CSS. Also, always include a reference link in your stylesheet inside the <head> </head> tags, as this will help you respond better when your website loads.
#5. Use Alt Attribute with Images
No alt attribute is required for images, so it’s easy to ignore. However, for validation and accessibility, it is essential to have a significant alt attribute. The attribute below provides context for screen readers, describing what the image contains.
#6. Use Heading Elements Wisely
Learn to use elements <h1> through <h6> to show your HTML content hierarchy. This will help make your content meaningful to screen readers, search engines, and other user agents.
For blogs, it is recommended to use the <h1> element of the blog post’s title instead of the name of the site, as this is the most important thing for search engines.
#7. Don’t Use Divs for Everything
Sometimes developers wrap <div> tag’s around multiple <div> tags that contain more <div> tags, creating many div’s. According to the latest reviews of the W3C HTML specification, <div> is an insignificant element that should be used “as a last resort when no other element is appropriate”.
However, many use it even for trivial matters, such as displaying internal elements such as blocks. Therefore, avoid creating divisive mountains by using them sparingly and responsibly.
#8. Check Browser Support for Modern Features
New features are being added to the HTML and CSS specifications. Unfortunately, some of these features may not be available in all browsers. Therefore, it makes sense to determine which browsers your target audience uses and then plan accordingly.
If this feature is required for your site to function, you may provide fillers for browsers that do not support this feature or warn users that they are using an incompatible browser. In any case, knowing what features are commonly available in all browsers can help. But, again, the website I can use is an excellent resource for such things.
As with any coding practice, the “keep it simple” principle applies to HTML and HTML5. HTML5 is generally compatible with older versions of HTML and XHTML.