Are You Using a Responsive HTML 5 Website Builder?
Thanks to website builders, you don’t need to hire an expensive designer to create cutting-edge and responsive websites. Anyone with basic computer skills now has the tools to make their own stunning website. This is great news for small business owners, freelancers, musicians, photographers, artists–for everyone!
If everyone can build a great website now, though, how do you make yours stand out?
One way is to ensure your site uses the latest technological developments in the world of web design. With so many great site builders out there, separating those at the forefront of technology from the rest can be a challenge. It requires some web design/development knowledge that you probably don’t have. My guess is that you’re using a website builder to avoid having to learn those complicated concepts — And don’t worry, you still won’t have to learn them.
We’re just going to help you quickly understand if your website builder is one of the best or one of the rest. Here, we’ll unpack some of the latest technologies and that help to create cutting-edge websites and show you why they’re important.
What is HTML5?
HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language. Almost all the content on a website uses HTML. It’s how you add text, links, images, and forms. It’s the skeleton of your entire site, and without it, you have nothing. When designer/developers talk about HTML5, they’re usually referring not only to the language but also the technologies associated with the language. With the new features in HTML5, we can build more practical, powerful websites.
Why Does HTML5 Matter in a Website Builder?
New Semantic Elements
Again, you’re probably using a builder to avoid getting too in-depth with code, but some of the best things about HTML5 are the new elements in the code. In the past, HTML has had “tags” that go around text and tell your browser what it’s looking at.
For example, a bit of paragraph text would look like this:
<p>This is paragraph text!</p>
And a top-tier heading would look like this:
<h1>This is a heading!</h1>
For many elements on a page, particularly dividers, HTML only had one signifier, the tag
<div></div>. So a box housing the site’s main content would look like this in the code:
<div>This houses all the main content on the site!</div>
And a sidebar would look like this:
<div>This is a sidebar!</div>
Headers, footers, articles within the main content, etc. all ended up having to use the tag
<div></div>. As you can imagine, this made it harder for developers to work together on projects because it was more difficult to understand thousands of lines of code that use the same tag to refer to different elements. It also made figuring out what was important on the site harder for search engines.
HTML5 introduced new elements that have more accurate names. So now, the backend of your content looks like this:
<header>This is a header!</header>
<main>This houses all the main content on the site!</main>
<footer>This is a footer!</footer>
As you can imagine, this makes it easier for developers to create better sites, and developers create the templates that website builders use, so that’s a bonus point for a website builder using HTML5. Another big win with HTML5 elements is their ease of accessibility to search engines. Because of the clarity the new semantic elements give your code, search engines can more easily understand your site, making it easier to index. It’s another push in the right direction for SEO.
With older versions of HTML, adding video and audio to a website could be a complicated process. Now it’s as simple as using the new “<audio></audio>” and “<video></video>” tags. If you want to place videos or audio clips on your website, a builder using HTML5 can do it seamlessly. This is also how many sites create video backgrounds for webpages. If you’re looking for a quick way to make your website visually stunning, a video background might be your best bet.
Site Speed Optimization
HTML5 has also optimized site speed and utilized device abilities more efficiently. A few examples of those innovations include:
- requestAnimationFrame – This feature optimizes 2D & 3D animations.
There are many more features which would be complicated to understand (and to explain), but a you can review a full list on the Mozilla Developer Network HTML5 page.
HTML5 & Bounce Rate
It’s easy for Google to figure out how fast your site loads, but your users can also see that plainly. If a page is struggling to appear, users leave. Search engines track how long visitors stay on your website and use that time to determine your “bounce rate”. The bounce rate is calculated from the average time it takes a user to bounce from your site to the another. An unfavorable “bounce rate” tells search engines they shouldn’t display this site at the top of their results page.
How Do I Know If My Site Builder Uses HTML5?
If you’re using one of the more popular site builders, like Wix or Squarespace, then you’re using templates built with HTML5. Even though it’s the latest version of the language, it’s been around since 2008 and the World Wide Web Consortium declared it complete in 2014. If you’re using a builder that stays on top of current website technology, you can be pretty sure you’re using HTML5. If you’re using a more dated builder, though, it’s worth a search on the website builder’s FAQ to make sure.
Responsive Web Design
What Is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is the process of creating optimum user experiences on a website regardless of the device used. This means tablets, smartphones, and desktop computers should all provide similar experiences.
Responsive Web Design uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to organize HTML into understandable layouts at different screen sizes. Like water takes the shape of the container holding it, CSS makes your content (written in HTML) fit the screen displaying it.
For example, if you have 3 images on your homepage, on a desktop they could easily be placed side by side. Here’s a sample from Engadget:
Why Does Responsive Web Design Matter?
Responsive web design isn’t new, but it’s more important than ever. The number of smartphone users keeps growing, and your customers are more and more likely to be visiting your site on a device other than a desktop or laptop. Professional designers have started to think of their site first as something on a mobile phone, and then on a tablet, and then on a desktop. This is called “mobile-first” design, and it’s the industry standard for web design. It hasn’t made it’s way into website builders as much as you would hope, though.
Many website builders are going to default to a view that isn’t mobile friendly, and that can cause you problems. First, users are going to get frustrated by their experience on your site when they’re on their phones or tablet, making them leave your site and making you lose conversions. Second, users might not find your site, because Google shows love to responsive sites and not to old-school sites. Google has even gone so far as to say “Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.” Search engines don’t want to rank sites that don’t perform well across devices.
How Do I Know If I’m Building A Responsive Website?
Some website builders make your site responsive automatically. Others have different viewports where you can tweak what your site will look like at different sizes (Wix’s mobile editor is an example of this). These builders require you to organize each element at each screen size, it can be maddening to design a visually-pleasing, logical experience.
With builders that automatically make your site responsive, you’re usually slightly limited in customization options. Page elements are “drag and drop” but need to fit into your template’s grid system. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since these templates use mountains of data and professional designers to create awesome websites.
If their website builder creates a responsive site, most leading website builders will advertise as “mobile ready” or even use the word responsive. If you’re unsure whether your site builder lets you design for mobile, you can try a couple of things:
- Look at your site from your phone or tablet and see if it scales down to provide better usability.
- If you have the option to edit your site at different screen sizes (usually you can click on device icons to see different views), then you’re likely using a website builder with responsive web design capabilities.
- Open your website in the desktop browser and click and drag one corner of it inward to make it smaller and simulate the size of a phone’s screen. If the site responds by moving page elements around to be more readable, this is also a sign you’re using a site builder with responsive web design.
Website Builders On Mobile Devices
What Are Mobile Website Management Tools?
You can pay your taxes on your phone and you can get a prescription for contact lenses on your phone. You should be able to manage your website from your phone too, right? That’s the idea coming to the forefront, at least. And it makes sense! If website builders first made it easy for anyone to build a website, wouldn’t it be the logical next step to be able to build those sites anywhere?
Why Do Mobile Site Managing Tools Matter?
Now that site builders are getting easier to use and technology has progressed, some really effective site management tools for mobile devices are emerging. Weebly’s iPhone app for site management is insanely powerful, and even shows you what your site would look like on a desktop. It’s not a necessity to be able to manage your website from your phone, but it is a convenience, and it is an advantage. What if you notice a typo on one of your landing pages while you’re in a cab going to a meeting? With mobile website management, all you have to do is open an app and change the text. You can use your phone’s data, so you don’t even need WiFi! Again, in a world where everyone can build a cool website, finding a better, faster, easier way to do it helps you stand out.
How Do I Know If My Site Builder Offers Mobile Management?
Many site builders have mobile apps, but few of them are true website managers. Weebly’s iPhone app offers a pretty robust set of features — it’s really close to the desktop experience with few immediate limitations other than your screen size — and no one else is really coming close to competing with them yet. This technology is still progressing, and hasn’t been necessary to enter the market so far, some website builders have placed in lower on their priorities list.
The newest website builders, though, are advertising mobile site building/management as a standard. In the next few years, it’ll be as essential as a drag and drop builder.
What Is AI Web Design?
If cars can drive themselves, shouldn’t websites design themselves? That’s the idea behind AI web design, at least. You heard me. A website that doesn’t just replace the professional with the amateur. A website that replaces people with artificial intelligence (AI) and designs itself. While it’s not quite here, AI web design is coming. In 2016, Wix released Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). The Grid launched as a site builder using AI to design sites in 2016 as well.
The sites these technologies are automatically generating aren’t awesome, but they’re better than many websites that people have designed (both amateurs AND professionals).
Why Does AI Web Design Matter?
Believe it or not, this is the logical next step for simple websites for small business owners. A professional designer doesn’t need to be building a one-page website for a business that needs little more than their location, hours, and phone number. A professional developer doesn’t need to spending time entering data like product information or setting up e-commerce for the smallest sites.
That’s why website builders exist. Designers and developers did the same thing for clients who wanted the same thing over and over until they created processes and tools to let the clients do it for themselves at a fraction of the cost. Now that these site builders have seen significant use, and trends have started to emerge, it makes sense to mine that data and automate website design.
Here’s the thing, though: Not only is AI web design a ways out from being at professional standards, it’s not actually Artificial Intelligence. This is a term that helps buyers understand a little more what they’re getting, but it’s more like artificial design assistance using tons of collected data.
For example, if you answer some questions about the purpose of your site, then Wix generates options that best suit you based on data, templates, and a pretty advanced algorithm. It requires you to pick from templates, which is essentially the same thing you did with the original Wix website builder. It’s still incredibly useful, and it’s a step in the right direction for AI Design, but it’s not true AI. AI web design has really just stepped a little bit beyond the templates options of a Squarespace or a Wix while simultaneously automating much of the process.
However, it’s using a process to replace the hours you’d spend doing the same thing, and it’s giving amateur designers 80% of what their efforts would bring in less than 20% of the time.
How Do I Know If My Website Builder Is Using AI?
Again, AI is this sense is just a marketing term, so no website builder is currently using it. Wix rolled out Wix ADI in June of 2016, but this is more design assistance than a smart computer building a website for you. The Grid officially launched in, it’s still struggling to find its way. The shortest answer is, your site builder is probably not using AI. It’s not just The Grid and Wix, either. Weebly, Google, and different universities are investing in AI design. And it’s going to have mobile management and smart layouts and eventually dominate the world of website builders. And it’s going to do it all in less than half the time of a normal website builder.
The best website builder is the one you’ll use. Cutting-edge technology is awesome, and it can help you be awesome on the web. The big deal is being on the web, though. Your customers are, but even after 25 years with the Internet, it is estimated that almost half of small businesses don’t have a website. This means with or without cutting-edge tech, you can be ahead of your competition just by getting started! So what are you waiting for? All you have to do is select a builder and get going.