August 4, 2010
If you play music and have ever been in a band you may be familiar with the types of people who have tons of gear. They can tell you all about it. They can probably make fun of your crappy gear. They can talk about their “distinctive style”. But then they play and their fancy gear sounds awful. And it’s not their gear, it’s them. And their “distinctive style” is mostly due to a lack of the concept of tuning or timing.
This relates to HTML in that it’s something that people obsess over, but which can often have little to do with the quality of the end product. What’s the point of clean, semantic markup if the website is ugly and unusable? What got me thinking about this was a recent post on HTML5 Doctor about the lonely <div> and the fact that in this crazy mixed-up world of HTML5, the forgotten div still has feelings. Really it does.
In the first example, the H1 tag is used as a title for the site, which is somewhat ‘controversial’. Is the H1 used for the title of the site, or the page? Or maybe even for multiple sections of a page? The ramifications are mind-boggling… not really. It just made me picture some nerd somewhere going “Hey, you can’t do that! The H1 is NOT for the site title!”. And just stepping back a little, the idea that there would be an argument over this is a bit absurd. Not that it’s unimportant, just a little absurd. In the way that if you say ‘hubble’ 20 times in a row, it might start to sound odd.
So as someone who designs and develops, it really is very important to know about these things. But it’s also very important not to get lost in the weeds. Read articles and documentation, form opinions and move on. Use what works. Would you rather use a bunch of divs instead of a list? Use H1 on the page title. Go for it. Maybe a little more time could be spent on making your site that much better.