Throughout this course, you’re going to hear me frequent use of the term semantics. It is, after all, part of the course’s name. However, it may be a term that you’re not all that familiar with. Especially in the terms of how it’s used in the context of the web.
So I’m going to start by taking some time to discuss it. Semantics refers to adding meaning through language and on the web, that translates to using specific languages and syntaxes to add meaning to content. It’s an incredibly important part of the modern web and can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your sites.
If we start with the very basics, web semantics allow us to control the organization and display of our content. Although each site is unique, certain conventions have evolved over time in the commonly recognized page elements.
Most pages, for example, contain some form of navigation, search capability, branding region, footer and main content. By using consistent semantic markup to identify these common elements, we make it easy for user agents to identify and properly present those elements to viewers.
This may seem trivial, but in some cases, such as with assistive technology, identifying content semantically is critical to ensuring functionality and providing easy access to page content. Semantics can help in other ways as well. A huge part in the success of the web has been the rise in the way content is accessed and shared. Automated services like search engines make it easy for users to find and access content. If that content is markedup semantically, it’s much easier for it to be indexed and found.
Put simply, it makes your content more relevant. Writing proper markups should be the goal of every web designer. It’s important to realize however, that there are tangible benefits to markingup your content semantically. Throughout this course, we’re going to focus on the proper semantic uses of HTML5 elements as well as exploring some of the syntaxes that can help extend the semantic value of your markup and help you create more meaningful content.