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<li> element with that string as its
textContent. Would you need to look at the code to understand what the function did if it was called
Semantics in CSS
In CSS, consider styling a list with
li elements representing different types of fruits. Would you know what part of the DOM is being selected with
div > ul > li, or
Semantics in HTML
In HTML, for example, the
<h1> element is a semantic element, which gives the text it wraps around the role (or meaning) of "a top level heading on your page."
<h1>This is a top level heading</h1>
On the other hand, you could make any element look like a top level heading. Consider the following:
<span style="font-size: 32px; margin: 21px 0;">Is this a top level heading?</span>
This will render it to look like a top level heading, but it has no semantic value, so it will not get any extra benefits as described above. It is therefore a good idea to use the right HTML element for the right job.
HTML should be coded to represent the data that will be populated and not based on its default presentation styling. Presentation (how it should look), is the sole responsibility of CSS.
Some of the benefits from writing semantic markup are as follows:
- Search engines will consider its contents as important keywords to influence the page's search rankings (see SEO)
- Screen readers can use it as a signpost to help visually impaired users navigate a page
- Finding blocks of meaningful code is significantly easier than searching though endless
divs with or without semantic or namespaced classes
- Suggests to the developer the type of data that will be populated
- Semantic naming mirrors proper custom element/component naming
When approaching which markup to use, ask yourself, "What element(s) best describe/represent the data that I'm going to populate?" For example, is it a list of data?; ordered, unordered?; is it an article with sections and an aside of related information?; does it list out definitions?; is it a figure or image that needs a caption?; should it have a header and a footer in addition to the global site-wide header and footer?; etc.
These are some of the roughly 100 semantic elements available: