Putting a Face on HTML5
What is HTML5? Who is using HTML5? And would you know what HTML5 is if you saw it? Ocupop, a boutique design firm with roots in Hawaii, was tapped to help the world find an answer to those questions.
HTML5 is "the next major revision of the HTML standard," essentially the most basic code behind the web.
Like most tech terms, unfortunately, its name is thrown around like any other buzzword, and its definition is constantly shifting and evolving. Indeed, some geeks joke that the name is meaningless, while others say the final specification will never be finished.
With all the discussions and debates surrounding HTML5, with all its moving parts, it was difficult to visualize. Whether you wanted to embrace it, or throw darts at it, you couldn't really see it.
Enter the new, official HTML5 logo.
Since its debut last month, the HTML5 logo has been as hotly debated as HTML5 itself, and I won't even pretend to understand all the nuances and particulars of what it represents (or fails to represent). I was mostly excited that Hawaii geeks played a part in creating something that had a global impact in the tech space.
This will be the focus of tomorrow's "Bytemarks Cafe" radio show on Hawaii Public Radio. Ocupop team member Matthew McVickar will join us, along with Daniel Leuck, CEO of local development firm Ikayzo. We'll talk about HTML5, the logo design project, and how to build a brand identity.
As a preview to tomorrow's radio chat, here's a Q&A with Matthew, who was kind enough to agree to an e-mail interview the day after the HTML5 logo was unveiled. He was quick to point out that it was a team effort, and that Ocupop Creative Director Michael Nieling headed the project and designed the logo itself.
Q. Congrats again on the HTML5 logo and great coverage!
A. Thank you so much! It's been a wild, invigorating couple of days! It's the first time that something I've been involved with has gotten that much attention online. Saw it in the paper too; neat. I'll save that one and mail it to my mom!
Q. In your likely clever and brief own words, what is HTML5?
A. HTML5 is the name for a collection of web technologies that are driving the most forward-thinking, exciting, 'I didn't know the internet could do that!' sites on the web. These technologies are either entirely new or new versions of proven forebears, and all of them are in various stages of adoption; this identity system is meant to give rallying speed and a strong face to that adoption and the community thereof.
HTML5 — the markup language — is the foundation though which all of the aforementioned technologies weave, and as such is the perfect leader for the parade.
Q. Who decided HTML5 needed a brand identity? What was the problem being solved?
A. Yes, there's a bunch of talk about this online, but, basically: The World Wide Web Consortium, (the W3C, the standards body responsible for pretty much every technology the web runs on) approached us and explained that they wanted a strong symbol for the growing HTML5 community to rally around. There's been a lot of really wonderful work done with HTML5 and the associated technologies, especially in the last year or so, and they wanted to take advantage of that momentum and spread the word. That's where we came in!
Q. How did you come up with the design? What was your role, and that of the other main members of your team?
A. Michael was the creative lead for the logo and identity system design, and I worked closely with him during every stage of the process, whether it was passing sketches and mockups back and forth, commenting on revisions, or meeting with the client. I also helped sculpt and style the design and copy on the official HTML5 Logo website, and did a bit of code-writing as well.
Q. How has it been received? Are the "haters" upset at the design, or the fact that there's a logo at all?
A. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In design circles in particular the logo has been lauded.
We've sold more than two-thousand T-shirts in two days, and the artwork and jokes (here and here and here and here and here, for starters) and mashups and re-creations of the logo in the very technologies it represents just keep pouring in. We've built something that people love and are already integrating and building on. It's just what we were going for!
The reality of releasing something at this scale, where you know a ton of people are going to see it, is that some people won't like it. Add to that the instant-opinion nature of the internet and the fact that anything the W3C does draws a lot of judgment from technologists and engineers, and you've got a tidal wave of reactions.
There are people who dismiss the logo with a few words, but the longer rants seem to be directed at the idea itself — that the W3C is being misleading or doing web development a disservice by lumping together many technologies under the banner of 'HTML5'. The truth is that this logo brings together a set of technologies whom all depend on HTML, and provides a strong, simple identity for talking about and representing them. People are excited and paying attention, and that's going to drive adoption and development rates. I'd call that an unqualified success.
Q. What would someone do with the logo? How would it be used?
A. On top what we're already seeing — the logo adorning HTML5-focused websites and showing up in the footers of sites that are utilizing HTML5 — it's the perfect image to use for a Facebook event invitation, a conference poster... anything you want to associate with the technologies in the HTML5 suite.
Q. What's next? Official logos for other web standards in the works?
A. We're continuing to work with the W3C on further refining the vocabulary and grammar of this identity project. Working with them on this project was really great — they were very committed to going about the design in a reasoned manner and keeping their Membership up-to-date. We don't have anything to announce at the moment, but keep your web browser open!
Want to learn more? Have questions you want answered? Tune in to KIPO 89.3FM at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, or catch the live online stream, and call in your comments to (808) 941-3689. Or subscribe to the podcast to download the audio later this week.