Home Scotland Trailblazes the Use of HTML5 in Museums

Scotland Trailblazes the Use of HTML5 in Museums

The National Museums of Scotland have become the first major museum organization in the world to fully implement HTML5.

Museum digital media tech manager Simon Madine explained in a blog post that the implementation across the five allied sites was married to an overall redesign. That redesign saw the site gain color and shoulder-room and emphasize more visuals. But the implementation of HTML5 is more revolutionary. It allows a greater level of search engine accessibility, easier rendering across browsers and overall makes it easier to elegantly add and change site content.

Hugh Wallace, NMS’s head of digital media, gave us the low-down on the practical application of the change.

“The innovation makes for slicker, faster pages as it means less use of graphics, due to new CSS3 techniques. The site should also be eminently more findable too as it’s structured for the way Google reads pages – but I appreciate those are quite subtle examples. The big difference is for mobile users as we start to move away from Flash and plug-ins, e.g. iPhone and iPad users get to experience interactive elements (such as on our homepage) that wouldn’t be visible in Flash. It’s not just an Apple love-in – we’re conscious of delivering the same content over multiple platforms and with Microsoft announcing more and more emphasis on HTML5 in the last couple of weeks we’re very much considering what the future user experience will be across the board.”

HTML5 has been used for both mobile applications and online video.

It’s far from an unknown quantity, but large public organizations are not often prime movers in adoption of new technology. In fact, the only other museum that Wallace’s crew could find that has fully implemented the language is The American Sport Art Museum and Archives.

However, Wallace believes HTML5 will prove to be the direction most will move in.

“I suspect it’s already on a few of the bigger organisations’ roadmaps as it’s necessary for orgs like ours to be considering how the public will be consuming content and adhering to standards wherever possible.”

For those using older browsers, the museums’ use of HTML5 should still result in good access.

“(O)our development process has used the techniques of Progressive Enhancement and Graceful Degradation.”

If there’s any better description of a museum’s mission than “progressive enhancement and graceful degradation” I’ve not heard it.

Read our walk-through of HTML5 testing.

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