If you’ve been wondering whether or not to convert your site (or create a new site) using HTML5, then the news from Usablenet (via TechCrunch) is welcome. Apparently, just adding a few interactive elements with HTML5 you can increase the engagement on your website and this makes mobile users especially want to stick around, up to 28% more in fact. One thing the headline doesn’t say is that it also decreases bounce rates by 15%—in other words, 15% fewer people are leaving right after showing up.
Now this isn’t just a matter of adding an HTML5 doctype to the top of your pages and calling it good. No, you need to do more with the HTML5 specification before you can look forward to those 11% more pageviews, lower bounce rates, and higher engagement. Doing things like:
Adding an interactive gallery or slideshow
Including location services
Expandable and collapsible boxes (to show and hide content)
Using shopping cart overlays (instead of dragging them off to yet another page)
All of these things make your site more interesting and interactive. And when you add HTML5 features like location services that are well suited to mobile phone use, well, of course mobile phone customers are going to appreciate that.
Remember to always test your new designs and interactivity as much as possible. You don’t want to see a gain in mobile users of 28% while losing 50% of your desktop users. But the outlook is great for HTML5, and as mobile use grows in popularity, HTML5 websites will be the beneficiaries.
Yes, Instagram is a native app, not an HTML5 web application. But I don’t see that as a signal that I should give up on HTML5 applications in favor of native apps. I see that as a signal that Facebook thinks they can recoup over a billion dollars from the Instagram app because they think it will add that much value to their other offerings.
The same article states that web applications can be slower than native applications. Sure, this is true. But it’s also true that web applications can be faster. And yes, Facebook’s application could be slow, but I suspect that was more due to a somewhat rushed dev cycle and not enough time to optimize things rather than simply because HTML5 apps are slower. By buying Instagram they can add those features into their Facebook app without having to reinvent the wheel.
The article also states that the reason that the Facebook app was so slow to load was that “every screen in the app had to load like a Web page.” And as proof, they linked to a Business Insider article that says “With the Facebook iPhone app, there are 6 screens a user has to go through before a user can actually take a picture.” I suspect that Nicholas Carlson may have been confused when he read that. I don’t read that as meaning that every page has to load like a web page, but rather that there are 6 screens or steps to go through before you can take a picture, compared to Instagram’s 1.
I honestly think that this is a good, if expensive, move on Facebook’s part. They get a photo app that is already very popular, and I’m sure we will see Instagram style features in the Facebook app in the future because of this acquisition. But I think it says a lot more about how Nicholas Carlson feels about HTML5 (negatively) than it does about how Facebook feels.
I have seen a lot of software come and go in the past 20+ years. And most of the time, while the innovation is interesting and fun, I haven’t seen anything that really made me think “this will really help me in my work,” but Shadow is the happy exception.
I only downloaded Shadow about an hour ago, and I’m already very impressed. I have connected my iPad, iPod touch, and Galaxy Tab to it and can see, immediately, how my pages, both on a local server and live on the web, look on those devices. I’m loving this product.
HTML5 is well suited for mobile and if you’ve seen the news from ZD Net, it is even faster on iOS than Android. And now you can test and fix problems so much faster than you ever could before.