Zuckerberg was wrong: 3 reasons you should use HTML5

A while ago, Mark Zuckerberg said something about HTML5 that got a lot of people talking.

Picture of Mark Zuckerberg

He said it’s just not ready.

In particular he was talking about using it for mobile apps – and he was explaining why Facebook was making the switch to native for its iPhone app.

Naturally, a lot of our clients asked about it – we are an HTML5 shop after all. But this debate is one that’s been raging in strategy rooms for years. Facebook’s creator just stoked that fire.

A lot has been written about this topic, but we wanted to add our two cents, because, in a lot of ways, we shouldn’t even be calling this a “debate” anymore. Particularly with content creators, there is a clear, verifiable winner here, and it’s HTML5.

We think this stuff is important to get right  – so, with apologies to Zuck, here are the three undeniable reasons why we think you should use HTML5 to go mobile.

It’s more than just technology – it’s your business

If you take one thing away from this post it should be this: HTML5 is so much more than just a technology decision.

HTML5 is a business strategy for solving distribution.

Treating it like just another technology overlooks the biggest benefit of HTML5 – its ability to help you overcome the fragmentation of the mobile landscape.

Readers are migrating en masse to mobile, and they are doing it on a handful of OS’s and a multiplicity of devices. You can either re-invent the wheel every time you decide to tackle a new platform. Or you can build once, and know that your content app will go everywhere, thanks to the web-browser friendliness of HTML5.

(As for getting in the App Store, if you insist, with HTML5 it’s just a matter if plunking it into a native shell. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean you close the door to that distribution channel.)

HTML5 is ready – especially for content apps

When we say HTML5 is ready for primetime, we say that only with the slightest of caveats: we are talking about content apps, here. Apps that are in the business of serving up fresh, compelling ideas to readers, on a regular basis. This could be newspapers, it might be marketers.

In these cases, there’s absolutely no question that HTML5 is fit for the job. Your content app should be modern and take advantage of all the latest developments in mobile reading, such as laid back, full screen experiences, swipe, tap and rich multimedia. And HTML5 has got you covered.

There’s plenty of examples of lightning fast, wonderful reading experiences brought to you by HTML5, from the most read newspaper in Canada, to the trailblazing FT, to every single property from Hearst.

There’s the added benefit that HTML developers have been around for decades. This is a massive, knowledgeable community, which means it could be cheaper and easier for you to find a solution than with a newer, less proven technology.

It’s what your readers want

It doesn’t hurt that a majority of tablet users say they to prefer reading on the web over native apps.

But more importantly, throwing your content into a native app has some severe consequences on the user experience. No one wants to be thrown into an app download wall after tapping on a Tweet about an interesting article. They just want to get to your content as fast as possible, and the best way to do that is to deliver your content directly from the browser.

The flip side of this is that you’ve potentially spent years building up your online assets, such as SEO and your social presence. Now, just as all your readers are flocking to mobile, the last thing you want to do is shut the door on that traffic source. But that’s exactly what happens when you close your content off into the silo of a native app.

 So what now?

At the end of the day, content marketers and publishers need to figure out how to most effectively take their content mobile.  With the amount of web traffic from mobile devices set to overcome desktops soon, this predicament is now a priority.

HTML5 provides the same immersive content experiences that a native app can, and it does it with the added benefit of being better for your users, and astronomically simpler in terms of a distribution strategy. With HTML5 you create once, and publish everywhere. With native apps, you don’t.

So, can we stop debating, and start building something incredible?

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