HTML Best Practices for Improving Website Development


    In the world of web applications, HTML serves as the essential foundation. Ignoring best practices in HTML can lead to unexpected issues.

    According to Statista’s Most widely utilized programming languages worldwide 2023 – As of 2022, JavaScript and HTML/CSS were the most commonly used programming languages among software developers worldwide. More than 63.6% of respondents said they used JavaScript, and just 53% used HTML/CSS.

    Developers must adopt practices to improve their websites. In this article, we have listed the best practices that will help them to achieve that goal.

    Here are some best practices:

    1. Reduce the Count of External Links

    Opt for reducing external stylesheets and script files into a minified file. Defer or preload/prefetch them when needed, both for file links in the header and script files. It is crucial to guide the browser in handling these elements.

    2. Prioritize Critical Styles First

    Avoid placing all site styles in a single file, as it can slow down fetching and parsing. This causes delays in site rendering.

    Instead, include essential styles in a style tag in the head or a smaller stylesheet for the initial render. Secondary styles, like those for user interaction elements, can be deferred.

    3. Remember the Page Title

    Page titles, as well as titles of various HTML tags, play a vital role. They appear in search results on search engine pages such as Google and Bing, in browser tabs, and on social media when users share the site. Ensure that the title briefly describes the page’s content.

    4. One H1 Tag Per Page?

    Consider using the H1 tag to sum up the website’s logo or primary site name at the top as the main heading. Multiple H1 tags can highlight various top-level aspects of the page.

    The compulsion of this rule depends on personal preferences, as long as heading tags are not placed incorrectly.

    5. Avoid HTML Tags for Styling

    HTML should primarily structure the site, reducing additional markup for styling purposes. CSS offers powerful styling features without altering the content. While exceptions may arise, modifying HTML should not be the default choice for styling.

    6. Avoid IMG Tag for Non-Content Images

    Developers must understand the difference between HTML image tags and CSS background images promptly. A general mistake made by developers is the use of the image tag for non-essential images, such as icons.

    If an image does not contribute to the content’s understanding, it should not be designated an image tag. A simple way to assess this is by considering the content without the image; if it remains understandable, the image is purely decorative.

    7. Incorporate a Favicon File

    The browser automatically fetches a favicon for the website without specifying a link. Simply include it in the site’s root directory. It is advisable to consistently add a favicon for the site in various sizes and formats.

    This becomes particularly valuable when tabs are too small to display the title. Consider using a favicon generator to cater to different devices, browsers, and usage scenarios.

    8. Some HTML Element Tags Require a Title

    Several HTML tags can be given titles to enhance their utility:

    • The title attribute allows for descriptive information about alternate stylesheets, aiding users in understanding their purpose.
    • When using the <abbr> tag, do not overlook the title attribute, as it serves as a tooltip to clarify the abbreviation’s meaning.
    • An input field can be improved by adding a title, serving as a tooltip to explain its purpose. Note that a title attribute and a label for the input serve distinct purposes.

    9. Include a Manifest

    Incorporating a manifest is a crucial step in creating Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), and it’s recommended to include it as a general practice.

    The manifest provides essential information to the browser on how to handle the site. One can specify short and long names for the site, rendering preferences, and icon sizes for tabs, bookmarks, and home screens on mobile devices. Consider using one of the available manifest generators.

    10. Avoid Block Tags

    Visualize block tags as boxes and inline tags as envelopes. Never attempt to nest boxes within envelopes. Sometimes, certain browsers may strip block tags from within inline tags, disrupting the markup.

    It is essential to differentiate between HTML block and inline tags, irrespective of their CSS display settings.

    11. Implement Lazy Loading for Images

    Some browsers only load images that are within the viewport, conserving resources. When dealing with pages containing numerous images, this approach ensures that only the visible ones are loaded initially, with the rest loading as the user scrolls.

    Developers can achieve this by specifying the loading attribute with a value of “lazy.”

    12. Properly Structure Blockquotes

    When using blockquotes, it is important to follow the correct structure. Rather than directly wrapping text with the blockquote tag, enclose the text within a <p> tag and then apply the blockquote to the <p> tag.

    The <q> tag’s primary function is to add quotation marks to the text. While it is suitable for citations, anchor tags are generally preferred. Quotation marks can also be added or targeted in CSS.

    Also Read: Creating Semantic HTML: Benefits, Practical Tips, and Key Principles

    13. Validate The HTML

    Make it a routine to validate the HTML to ensure its correctness. This practice helps prevent errors and, over time, equips to avoid such mistakes altogether.

    They can even integrate HTML validation into the build process to ensure the website is not deployed with invalid markup.

    Summing Up

    Best practices are widely accepted guidelines within the community, but every experience is unique. By sticking to these best practices, website development can be greatly improved and optimized for performance and user experience.

    It is advisable to continuously experiment with and test various rules to discover what works best for the project, team, and themselves.


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