Extasius blog post on the fundamentals of HTML

The Fundamentals of HTML

HTML is the foundation of the internet as we know it today. Whether you are designing a website, creating an online shopping cart, or developing a social media platform, HTML forms an integral part of your work. In this article, we will dive into the basics of HTML and take a close look at the history, syntax, common tags, and modern web standards of HTML.

What is HTML?

HTML, which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, is a coding language that is used to create web pages. HTML code contains a set of instructions known as tags. These tags define the structure, formatting, and layout of a web page’s content. HTML also allows developers to embed other media into a web page, such as images, videos, and interactive elements.

A Brief History of HTML

Tim Berners Lee
Tim Berners Lee, creator of the WWW

HTML was first created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 as part of his vision for the World Wide Web (WWW). At the time, the internet was a network of documents with no standardized format for displaying information. HTML changed that by providing a way for developers to create structured web pages that could be displayed on any device with a web browser.

Since then, HTML has gone through several iterations. HTML4 was the most widely used version of HTML until HTML5 was introduced in 2014. HTML5 is now the standard for web development, offering new features and functionality that make web pages more interactive, accessible, and responsive.

The Purpose of HTML in Web Development

Web Development programming languages

The main purpose of HTML in web development is to create the structure and content of a web page. HTML defines the hierarchy of headings, paragraphs, and lists, as well as the placement and layout of images, videos, and other media. This structure is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO), as it helps search engines to understand the content of a web page and index it appropriately.

HTML is also used in conjunction with other web development technologies, such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript, to create dynamic and visually appealing web pages. CSS is used to style and format the content of a web page, while JavaScript is used to add interactivity and functionality to a web page.
One of the great things about HTML is its versatility. It can be used to create simple web pages with basic text and images, or it can be used to create complex web applications with advanced functionality, such as online shopping carts, social media platforms, and video streaming services.

Another important aspect of HTML is its accessibility. HTML allows developers to create web pages that are accessible to all users, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. This is achieved through the use of semantic HTML tags, which provide additional information about the content of a web page to assistive technologies such as screen readers.
Overall, HTML is a fundamental technology in web development, providing the foundation for creating structured, accessible, and visually appealing web pages and applications.

HTML Syntax and Structure

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is the standard language used to create web pages. It is a markup language that defines the structure and layout of a web page. HTML code is made up of elements and tags, which work together to create the content and formatting of a web page.

Elements and Tags

An element is a container that holds content, while a tag is a set of instructions that defines the purpose and formatting of an element. Every HTML tag has an opening tag (<tagname>) and a closing tag (</tagname>), which surround the content of the element.

For example, the <p> tag is used to create a paragraph of text. The opening tag <p> comes before the text, and the closing tag </p> comes after the text. This tells the web browser to display the text as a paragraph.


Attributes are additional instructions that can be added to HTML tags to define specific properties of an element. For example, the <img> tag is used to embed an image into a web page. An attribute such as ‘src’ is used to specify the location of the image file on the web server.

Attributes can be added to most HTML tags to customize the appearance and behavior of the element. Common attributes include ‘class’, ‘id’, ‘style’, and ‘href’.

Nesting and Hierarchy

HTML tags can be nested inside one another to create a hierarchy of content. For example, the <ul> (unordered list) tag can be used to create a list of items, while the <li> (list item) tag is used to define each item in the list.

It is essential to follow a logical hierarchy in your HTML code to maintain the structure and readability of your web pages. Always ensure that opening and closing tags are properly nested and that content is placed inside the appropriate elements.

For example, if you have a heading that contains a subheading, you would use the <h1> tag for the main heading and the <h2> tag for the subheading. This creates a clear hierarchy of content that is easy to read and understand.

Overall, understanding HTML syntax and structure is essential for creating well-organized and visually appealing web pages. By using elements, tags, attributes, and nesting properly, you can create web pages that are easy to read and navigate, and that provide a great user experience.

Common HTML Tags

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard language used to create web pages. It consists of a series of tags that define the structure and content of a page. Here are some of the most common HTML tags:

Headings and Paragraphs

Headings are used to define the structure of a web page’s content. HTML has six levels of headings, ranging from <h1> (the most prominent) to <h6> (the least prominent). Headings should be used in a logical hierarchy that reflects the content of the page.

For example, a web page about the benefits of exercise might use an <h1> tag for the main heading, followed by <h2> tags for subheadings such as “Cardiovascular Health” and “Weight Management”.

Paragraphs are used to define blocks of text on a web page. The <p> tag is used to create a paragraph, and the opening tag <p> comes before the text, while the closing tag </p> comes after the text.

It’s important to use paragraphs to break up large blocks of text and make the content more readable. This is especially important on mobile devices, where users may be scrolling through content on a small screen.


Lists are used to present information in a structured format. HTML has two types of lists: ordered lists and unordered lists. Ordered lists are used for items that have a specific order or sequence, while unordered lists are used for items that do not have a specific order.

For example, a recipe website might use an ordered list to present the steps in a recipe, while an unordered list might be used to list the ingredients.

Links are used to connect different web pages together. The <a> tag is used to create a hyperlink, and the ‘href’ attribute is used to specify the URL of the page being linked to.

For example, a news website might use links to allow users to navigate to different sections of the site, such as “Sports” or “Politics”.

Images are used to add visual elements to a web page. The <img> tag is used to embed an image file into a web page, and the ‘src’ attribute is used to specify the location of the image file on the web server.

Images can be used to make a page more visually appealing, or to illustrate a concept or idea. For example, a travel website might use images to showcase different destinations.

Tables and Forms

Tables are used to present data in a structured format. The <table> tag is used to create a table, and the <tr>, <th>, and <td&gt; tags are used to define the rows, headings, and data cells of the table.

Tables can be used to display information such as schedules, pricing, or product specifications. For example, an e-commerce website might use a table to display the different options available for a product.

Forms are used to collect data from users. The <form> tag is used to create a form, and the <input> tag is used to create input fields for users to enter data.

Forms can be used for a variety of purposes, such as collecting user feedback, processing orders, or creating user accounts. For example, a social media website might use a form to allow users to sign up for a new account.

HTML5 and Modern Web Standards

HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and it has revolutionized the way web developers create and design web pages. HTML5 is packed with new features that make it easier to create interactive and multimedia-rich web pages. It is also more accessible and semantic, which means that it is better suited for people with disabilities, such as screen readers.

New Elements in HTML5

One of the most exciting features of HTML5 is the introduction of several new elements that make it easier to create multimedia-rich web pages. These elements include:

  • <video> for embedding videos
  • <audio> for embedding audio
  • <canvas> for creating graphics
  • <article> for defining self-contained content

These elements have made it possible for developers to create rich and engaging web pages that were not possible before. For example, with the <video> element, developers can now easily embed videos directly into web pages without having to rely on third-party plugins such as Adobe Flash.

Deprecated Tags and Attributes

HTML5 has also removed several tags and attributes that are no longer necessary or relevant. These include <center>, <font>, and <strike>, among others. These tags and attributes were deprecated because they were either redundant or had better alternatives.

Accessibility and Semantic Markup

HTML5 emphasizes the importance of accessibility and semantic markup. By using proper semantically meaningful tags, developers can ensure that their web pages are accessible to people with disabilities, such as screen readers. Adding ARIA attributes also helps to provide further context and accessibility to web content.

For example, using the <nav> element to define navigation menus, and the <header> and <footer> elements to define the header and footer sections of a web page, makes it easier for screen readers to understand the structure of the page and navigate through it.

Overall, HTML5 has brought about a new era of web development, making it easier to create engaging and accessible web pages that are compatible with modern web standards.


HTML is the cornerstone of web development, and every developer should have a solid understanding of the basics of HTML. By learning HTML’s syntax, common tags, and modern web standards, developers can create web pages that are accessible, interactive, and responsive.

Whether you are building a simple blog or a complex web application, HTML is an essential part of your development toolkit. Keep learning and exploring HTML, and let your creativity guide you as you build amazing web experiences for the world to enjoy.

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