What is HTML?

HTML is an acronym for a markup language called Hyper Text Mark Up Language. Hyper is the term used to mean that users can go anywhere in the “code” at any time. There is not the requirement to move sequentially (first this, then that, then third etc.). People on the Internet experience this “hyper” as being able to go anywhere on a web page they want. So, it is pretty important. Imagine if you had to read a web page in order, and you could not poke around as you like. Text is text. Markup is the bit of code that tells the text how to look; should it be bold, or italic, or in the center of the page etc. Language is language; the kind a computer can understand.

Why Is HTML Useful?

Well, here’s the deal. Even though software to create html is fairly user friendly and do not make you code, it really helps if you can “view source” (look at the HTML) and see what is going on with your page. Let’s say that you are trying to make some changes to your text (bold, or a certain color), and no matter what you do, it’s just not quite right. Maybe one letter is not right, or it is on the next line. Such tiny issues can be infuriating. Sure, you can place a ticket with tech support, but if you know a little bit of HTML, you can fix the glitch yourself in seconds. Really. Computers are literal beings, and HTML is just how we tell browsers what to do. In fact, your browser never misreads anything (even if you think internet explorer does, it’s still only doing what it’s been programmed to do). If there is something you do not like on your website, you will have to find out what is wrong with the HTML and change it.

Can you give an example, please?

Sure. Suppose you want to add a Twitter link on your site. You can use the following bit of HTML to add a link to twitter from your website.

<a href="https://twitter.com/rob_mehew">Our Twitter</a>

This is known as an HTML tag, all tags are stuctured in the same way, the only exception is self closing tags. Every html tag has the tag itself, which is like >a< and then inside that tag they also have attributes, for example href=”http://www.twitter.com/”.

What is all this gibberish?

Well, that’s just it. It’s not gibberish, it’s totally unambiguous directions telling your browser how to read the web page it is on. Let’s look at one common command in HTML:

<strong>My text</strong>

This bit of HTML code is telling the browser to style the text inside of it as bold or strong weight. This is useful to know as a lot of tags work very similar, in that they pick up parts of the content and do something with it.

So, where can I learn more?

The good news is there are a ton of books and sites that explain the basics.
In fact, EpicWebs offers lots of advice for beginners to get started. For most people, knowing even basic HTML is enough for you to maintain and spot problems, it will definately be enough to know when you need to call in an expert. The basics of HTML are not hard to learn and can make your life a lot easier. So get to it and learn some HTML!