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Using HTML5 To Transform WordPress’ TwentyTen Theme

Last year, WordPress launched arguably its biggest update ever: WordPress 3.01. Accompanying this release was the brand new default theme, TwentyTen2, and the promise of a new default theme every year. Somewhat surprisingly, TwentyTen declares the HTML5 doctype but doesn’t take advantage of many of the new elements and attributes that HTML5 brings.


Now, HTML5 does many things, but you can’t just add <!doctype html> to the top of a document and get excited that you’re so 2011. Mark-up, as they say, is meaning, and HTML5 brings a whole bunch of meaning to our documents.

In a recent survey3 by Chris Coyier over at CSS-Tricks, almost two thirds of respondents said they would not use HTML5 in new projects. In a similar survey by Smashing Magazine the results were almost identical: only 37% of voters said they use HTML5. This is depressing reading. Perhaps developers and designers are scared off by cross-browser incompatibility and the chore of learning new mark-up. The truth is that with a pinch of JavaScript, HTML5 can be used safely today across all browsers, back to IE6.

WordPress seems to sympathize with the majority of CSS-Tricks’ readers. TwentyTen is a fine theme that already validates as HTML54; but in order to cater to users without JavaScript, it has to forgo a large chunk of HTML5 elements. The reason? Our old friend Internet Explorer doesn’t support most of them prior to version 9.

The default TwentyTen WordPress Theme.

For example, you’ve probably already heard of the <section> and <article> tags, both of which are champing at the bit to be embedded in a WordPress template. But to use these HTML5 elements in IE8 (and its predecessors), you need JavaScript in order to create them in the DOM. If you don’t have JavaScript, then the elements can’t be styled with CSS. Turn off JavaScript and you turn off the styling for these elements; invariably, this will break the formatting of your page.

I assume that WordPress decided to exclude these problematic tags so that its default theme would be supported by all browsers — not just those with JavaScript turned on.

While I understand this decision, I also think it’s a mistake. Three core technologies make the Web work: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. All desktop browsers support them (to some degree), so if any one of them off is disabled the user will have to expect a degraded experience. JavaScript is now fundamental to the user experience and while we should support users who turn off JavaScript, or have it turned off for them and have no chance to turn it on again as they don’t have the right to do so, I question just how far we should support them.

Why Using JavaScript Makes Sense Link

Yahoo gives compelling evidence that less than 1.5% of its users turn off JavaScript. My own research into this, ably assisted by Greig Daines at eConversions, puts the figure below 0.5% (based on millions of visitors to a UK retail website).

Whilst it’s true that JavaScript should be separated from a site’s content, design and structure the reality is no longer black and white. I strongly believe that the benefits and opportunities HTML5 brings, together with related technologies such as CSS3 and media queries (both of which sometimes rely on JavaScript for cross-browser compatibility), is more than enough reason to use JavaScript to ‘force’ new elements to work in Internet Explorer. I am a passionate advocate for standards-based design that doesn’t rely on JavaScript; HTML5 is the one structural exception.

Yes, we should respect a user’s decision to deactivate JavaScript in their browser. However, I don’t believe that this is a good enough reason for not using modern technologies, which would provide the vast majority of users with a richer user experience. After all, in the TwentyTen example, if the theme had HTML5 tags in it, everything would look fine in modern browsers (latest versions of Safari, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and IE9), with or without JavaScript.

If the browser is IE6 – IE8, and JavaScript is turned off, then users would see the content but it will not be styled correctly. If the content would not be displayed at all, we’d have a completely different discussion. If you are still not convinced, I will briefly discuss another option for those who absolutely must support users with JavaScript turned off.

To make TwentyTen play fair with IE, I suggest Remy Sharp’s HTML5 shim6 or, if you want to sink your teeth into CSS3, Modernizr7. Modernizr not only adds support for HTML5 elements in IE but also tells you which CSS3 properties are supported by the user’s browser by adding special classes to the <html> element.


So, let’s assume you’ve rightly banished non-JavaScript users with a polite message in a <noscript> tag. We can now start tinkering under the hood of TwentyTen to bring some more HTML5 to WordPress.

Upgrading To HTML5 Link

TwentyTen gets a number of things spot on. First of all, it declares the right doctype and includes the abbreviated meta charset tag. It also uses other semantic goodness like Microformats and great accessibility features like WAI-ARIA. But we can go further.

Important notes:

  • I am referencing the HTML generated at, rather than the simple “Hello World” clean installation of WordPress 3.
  • For this article, I’ll be editing the files directly in the /wp-content/themes/twentyten/ directory. I’ve provided all the updated HTML5 theme source files for you to download from TwentyTen Five9.
  • Line numbers may change over time, so when I reference one, I’ll usually say “on or around line…” The version of WordPress at the time of writing is 3.0.4.

Articles Link

One of the more confusing parts of the HTML5 spec is the <section> and <article> tags. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The easiest way to remember is to refer to the specification. The HTML5 spec10 may be dry at the best of times, but its explanation of articles11 will always point you in the right direction:

The article element represents a self-contained composition in a document, page, application, or site and that is, in principle, independently distributable or reusable, e.g. in syndication.

If the piece of content in question can be, and most likely will be, syndicated by RSS, then there’s a good chance it’s an <article>. A blog post in WordPress fits the bill perfectly.

On the TwentyTen home page, we get the following HTML:

<div id="post-19">

Semantically this means very little. But with the simple addition of an article tag, we’re able to transform it into mark-up with meaning.

<article id="post-19">

Note that we retain the id to ensure that this <article> remains unique.

To make this change in the TwentyTen theme, open loop.php, which is in /wp-content/themes/twentyten/. On or around line 61, you should find the following code:

<div id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>

We’ll need to change that <div> to an <article>, so that it reads:

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>

And then we close it again on or around line 97, so that…

</div><!-- #post-## -->

… becomes:

</article><!-- #post-## -->

There are also instances on lines 32, 101 and 124. Opening some of the other pages in the theme, for example single.php, and making the same change is worthwhile. Thus, line 22 in single.php would change from…

<div id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>

… to:

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>

And line 55 would change from…

</div><!-- #post-## -->

… to:

</article><!-- #post-## -->

So far, so good. These are simple changes, but they already serve to overhaul the semantics of the website.

Time and Date Link

According to the HTML5 spec:

The <time> element either represents a time on a 24-hour clock, or a precise date on the proleptic Gregorian calendar, optionally with a time and a time-zone offset.

This means we can give the date and time of an article’s publication more context with HTML5’s <time> tag. Look at the code that WordPress generates:

<a href="" title="4:33 am"
rel="bookmark"><span>October 17, 2008</span></a>

We can add meaning to our mark-up by transposing this to:

<a href="" title="4:33 am"
rel="bookmark"><time datetime="2008-10-17T04:33Z"
pubdate>October 17, 2008</time></a>

This time is now machine-readable, and the browser can now interact with the date in many ways should we so wish. I’ve also added the boolean attribute pubdate, which designates this as the date on which the article or content was published.

Time in the datetime attribute is optional, but because WordPress includes it when you post an article, we can too. Implementing this in TwentyTen requires us to dig a little deeper. In loop.php, the following function on or around line 65 calls for the date to be included:

<?php twentyten_posted_on(); ?>

To make our HTML5 changes, let’s head over to /wp-content/themes/twentyten/ and open functions.php. On or around line 441, you’ll see this:

function twentyten_posted_on() {
printf( __( '<span>Posted on</span> %2$s <span>by</span> %3$s', 'twentyten' ),
'meta-prep meta-prep-author',
sprintf( '<a href="%1$s" title="%2$s" rel="bookmark"><span>%3$s</span></a>',
esc_attr( get_the_time() ),

If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. We’re focusing on the sprintf12 function, which basically takes a string and inserts the variables that are returned by the three functions listed: that is, get_permanlink(), get_the_time() and get_the_date() are inserted into %1$s, %2$s and %3$s, respectively.

We need to change how the date is formatted, so we’ll have to add a fourth function: get_the_date('c'). WordPress will then return the date in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) format, which is exactly what the <time> element requires. Our finished code looks like this:

printf( __( 'Posted on %2$s by %3$s', 'twentyten' ),
'meta-prep meta-prep-author',
sprintf( '<a href="%1$s" rel="bookmark"><time datetime="%2$s"

I’ve included get_the_date() twice because we need two different formats: one for the <time> element and one that’s displayed to the user. I’ve also removed title="[time published]" because that information is already included in the <time> element.

For more details on WordPress’ date and time functions, check out:

Figures Link

A figure—for our purposes at least—is a piece of media that you upload in WordPress to embed in a post. The most obvious example would be an image, but it could be a video, too, of course. WordPress 3 is helpful enough to add captions to images when you first import the images, but it doesn’t display those captions using the new HTML5 <figure> and <figcaption> tags.

The spec defines15 <figure> as follows:

The figure element represents a unit of content, optionally with a caption, that is self-contained, that is typically referenced as a single unit from the main flow of the document, and that can be moved away from the main flow of the document without affecting the document’s meaning.

And it defines <figcaption> like so:

The figcaption element represents a caption or legend for the rest of the contents of the figcaption element’s parent figure element, if any.

Currently an image with a caption is rendered like this:

<div class="wp-caption" style="width: 445px;"><img alt="Boat"
title="Boat" width="435" height="288" />
<p class="wp-caption-text">Boat</p>

A WordPress image with a caption.

Changing this HTML to include HTML5 elements requires us to first look at media.php in the /wp-includes/ directory, where this code is generated. On or around line 739, you’ll find:

return '<div ' . $id . 'class="wp-caption ' . esc_attr($align) . '" style="width: ' . (10 + (int) $width) . 'px">'
. do_shortcode( $content ) . '<p>' . $caption . '</p></div>';

To upgrade this to HTML5, we need to define a new function that outputs our <figure>-based HTML and assign this function to the same shortcode that calls img_caption_shortcode(). I’ve done this in /wp-content/themes/twentyten/functions.php by adding the following to the bottom of the file:

add_shortcode('wp_caption', 'twentyten_img_caption_shortcode');
add_shortcode('caption', 'twentyten_img_caption_shortcode');

function twentyten_img_caption_shortcode($attr, $content = null) {

'id'    => '',
'align'    => 'alignnone',
'width'    => '',
'caption' => ''
), $attr));

if ( 1 > (int) $width || empty($caption) )
return $content;

if ( $id ) $idtag = 'id="' . esc_attr($id) . '" ';

  return '<figure ' . $idtag . 'aria-describedby="figcaption_' . $id . '" style="width: ' . (10 + (int) $width) . 'px">'
  . do_shortcode( $content ) . '<figcaption id="figcaption_' . $id . '">' . $caption . '</figcaption></figure>';

First, we point the shortcodes for wp-caption and caption to our new function twentyten_img_caption_shortcode(). Then, we simply copy the original function from media.php, and change the last few lines to include our <figure> element. This now renders our boat.jpg example from above like so:

<figure id="attachment_64" style="width: 445px;">
<a href="http://localhost/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/boat.jpg">
<img title="boat" src="http://localhost/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/boat.jpg"
alt="Screenshot" width="435" height="288" aria-describedby="figcaption_attachment_64"></a>
<figcaption id="figcaption_attachment_64">Boat</figcaption>

The Comments Form Link

One of the biggest improvements introduced in HTML5 is how form fields work and respond to user input. We can take advantage of these changes by using HTML5 form elements in the default WordPress comments form in three ways:

  1. We can set the text-input type to email and url for the relevant fields. This not only more accurately describes the input field, but also adds better keyboard functionality for the iPhone, for example.
  2. We can add the boolean attribute required to our required form fields. This goes beyond WAI-ARIA’s aria-required='true' because it invokes the browser’s own required behavior.
  3. We can add placeholder text to our form fields, a popular JavaScript method that is now handled in-browser. Placeholder text allows you to go into more detail about what information is required than a form label generally allows.

Before adding HTML, a typical comment input field might look like this:

<label for="email">Email</label> <span>*</span>
<input id="email" name="email" type="text" value=""
size="30" aria-required='true' />

After our HTML5 changes, it would look like this:

<label for="email">Email</label> <span>*</span>
<input id="email" name="email" type="email" value=""
size="30" aria-required='true'
placeholder="How can we reach you?" required />

To make these improvements in the code, we need to do two things. First, we need to change the HTML for the default fields (name, email address and website URL), and then we need to change it for the comment’s <textarea>. We can achieve both of these changes with additional filters and custom functions.

To change the HTML for the default form fields, we need to add the following filter to the bottom of functions.php:

add_filter('comment_form_default_fields', 'twentytenfive_comments');

And then we have to create our custom function twentytenfive_comments() to change how these fields are displayed. We can do so by creating an array containing our new form fields and then returning it to this filter. Here’s the function:

function twentytenfive_comments() {

$req = get_option('require_name_email');

$fields =  array(
'author' => '<p>' . '<label for="author">' . __( 'Name' ) . '</label> ' . ( $req ? '<span>*</span>' : '' ) .
'<input id="author" name="author" type="text" value="' . esc_attr( $commenter['comment_author'] ) . '" size="30"' . $aria_req . ' placeholder = "What should we call you?"' . ( $req ? ' required' : '' ) . '/></p>',

'email'  => '<p><label for="email">' . __( 'Email' ) . '</label> ' . ( $req ? '<span>*</span>' : '' ) .
'<input id="email" name="email" type="email" value="' . esc_attr(  $commenter['comment_author_email'] ) . '" size="30"' . $aria_req . ' placeholder="How can we reach you?"' . ( $req ? ' required' : '' ) . ' /></p>',

'url'    => '<p><label for="url">' . __( 'Website' ) . '</label>' .
'<input id="url" name="url" type="url" value="' . esc_attr( $commenter['comment_author_url'] ) . '" size="30" placeholder="Have you got a website?" /></p>'

return $fields;

You can see here that each element in the form has a name in the array(): author, email and url. We then type in our custom code, which contains the new HTML5 form attributes. We have added placeholder text to each of the elements and, where required, added the boolean required attribute (and we need to check if the admin has made these fields required using the get_option() function). We’ve also added the correct input type to the inputs for author, email address and website URL.

Finally, we need to add some HTML5 to the <textarea>, which is home to the user’s comments. We have to use another filter here, also in functions.php:

add_filter('comment_form_field_comment', 'twentytenfive_commentfield');

We follow this with another custom function:

function twentytenfive_commentfield() {

$commentArea = '<p><label for="comment">' . _x( 'Comment', 'noun' ) . '</label><textarea id="comment" name="comment" cols="45" rows="8" aria-required="true" required placeholder="What's on your mind?"    ></textarea></p>';

return $commentArea;


This is more or less the same as the default <textarea>, except with placeholder and required attributes.

You can control exactly which fields appear in your form with these two filters, so feel free to add more if you want to collect more information.

Although relatively simple, these changes to the comment form provide additional (and useful!) features to users with latest-generation browsers. Look in Opera, Chrome (which doesn’t yet support required) or Firefox 4 to see the results.

We finally get around to inserting the new <header>, <nav> and <footer> elements. Currently, the code in /wp-content/themes/twentyten/header.php looks more or less like this:

<div id="header">
<div id="masthead">
<div id="branding" role="banner">
</div><!-- #branding -->

<div id="access" role="navigation">
</div><!-- #access -->
</div><!-- #masthead -->
</div><!-- #header -->

It doesn’t take a genius to see that we can easily make this HTML5-ready by changing some of those divs to include <header> and <nav>.

<header id="header">
<section id="masthead" >
<div id="branding" role="banner">
</div><!-- #branding -->

<nav id="access" role="navigation">
</nav><!-- #access -->
</section><!-- #masthead -->
</header><!-- #header -->

You can see that we’ve left the WAI-ARIA role of navigation assigned to the nav element—simply to offer the broadest possible support to all browsers and screen readers.

I have replaced the #masthead div with a <section> because all of the elements in this area relate to one another and are likely to appear in a document outline. It seems you could delete this section altogether and just apply 30 pixels of padding-top to the header to maintain the layout. I’ve maintained the elements’ ids in case more than one of each are on the page—multiple headers, footers and navs (and more) are all welcome in HTML5.

While we’re editing the header, we can introduce the new <hgroup>16 element. This element enables us to include multiple headings in a section of our document, while they would be treated as just one heading in the document outline. Currently, the code on or around line 65 in header.php looks like this:

<?php $heading_tag = ( is_home() || is_front_page() ) ? 'h1' : 'div'; ?>
<<?php echo $heading_tag; ?> id="site-title">
<a href="<?php echo home_url( '/' ); ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr( get_bloginfo( 'name', 'display' ) ); ?>" rel="home"><?php bloginfo( 'name' ); ?></a>
</<?php echo $heading_tag; ?>>
<div id="site-description"><?php bloginfo( 'description' ); ?></div>

We can edit this to include the <hgroup> tag, and also change <div id="site-description"> to an <h2> element:

<?php $heading_tag = ( is_home() || is_front_page() ) ? 'h1' : 'div'; ?>
<<?php echo $heading_tag; ?> id="site-title">
<a href="<?php echo home_url( '/' ); ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr( get_bloginfo( 'name', 'display' ) ); ?>" rel="home"><?php bloginfo( 'name' ); ?></a>
</<?php echo $heading_tag; ?>>
<h2 id="site-description"><?php bloginfo( 'description' ); ?></h2>

In /wp-content/themes/twentyten/footer.php, we have:

<div id="footer" role="contentinfo">
  <div id="colophon">
  <div id="site-info">
    <a href="<?php echo home_url( '/' ) ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr( get_bloginfo( 'name', 'display' ) ); ?>" rel="home">
    <?php bloginfo( 'name' ); ?>
  </div><!-- #site-info -->

  <div id="site-generator">
  </div><!-- #site-generator -->

  </div><!-- #colophon -->
</div><!-- #footer -->

We can easily edit this to include a <footer> and another <section> element:

<footer role="contentinfo">
<section id="colophon">
<div id="site-info">
<a href="<?php echo home_url( '/' ) ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr( get_bloginfo( 'name', 'display' ) ); ?>" rel="home">
<?php bloginfo( 'name' ); ?>
</div><!-- #site-info -->

<div id="site-generator">
</div><!-- #site-generator -->

</section><!-- #colophon -->
</footer><!-- #footer -->

JavaScript and CSS Link

As mentioned, we should include an HTML5 shim or Modernizr.js to make sure that all of our new elements render correctly in Internet Explorer prior to version 9. I added the following line to header.php:

<script src="<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_directory'); ?>/js/Modernizr-1.6.min.js"></script>

A couple of things to note here. First, we no longer need type="text/javascript" because the browser will assume that a script is JavaScript unless it’s told different. Secondly, we have to use the WordPress bloginfo() function to point the source URL to our theme directory.

Although we are including Modernizr partly to make sure that IE can deal with the new HTML5 elements, I am serving it to all browsers because of the CSS3-checking functionality it provides.

In style.css, we need to make sure that our HTML5 elements have a display: block attribute, because some older browsers will treat them as inline elements. For our purposes, the following line at the top of the CSS file will do:

header, nav, section, article, aside, figure, footer { display: block; }

While we’re talking about CSS, remember that we can now remove type="text/css" from our <link> tags. The simplified code looks like this:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="<?php bloginfo( 'stylesheet_url' ); ?>" />

That should be enough for now. Remember, though, that changing the structure of the page by replacing older HTML elements with new ones might require some additional CSS.

We should let the small minority of users know that we’ve stopped supporting browsers that have JavaScript turned off. A polite message just below the opening <body> tag in header.php should suffice:

<noscript><strong>JavaScript is required for this website to be displayed correctly. Please enable JavaScript before continuing...</strong></noscript>

Add some very basic styling in style.css to make this message unmissable.

/* A message for users with JavaScript turned off */
noscript strong {
display: block;
font-size: 18px;
padding: 5px 0;
background-color: #ccc;
color: #a00;
text-align: center; }

Still Not Convinced? A Cross-Browser Alternative Link

There is another option for those of you who absolutely must support users with JavaScript turned off, as suggested by Christian Heilmann17. Simply wrap your HTML5 elements with divs which share the same ID name. For example:

<article id="post-123">


<div class="article">
<article id="post-123">

Then it’s just a case of adding .article to your article CSS definition. It might look like this:

article { display: block; background-color: #f7f7f7; }

It’s worth noting that this adds another layer of markup to your code which isn’t needed for most users. I’d only recommend it if non-JavaScript users are a significant proportion of your users and/or sales.

Final Thoughts Link

TwentyTen was a huge step forward for WordPress; and as a piece of HTML, it is a beacon of best practice. By including some simple JavaScript, we can now open up the theme to the world of HTML5—and the additional meaning and simpler semantic code that it offers.

While we’ve addressed a good number of new HTML5 elements in this article, it really is just a starting point and you can add many more yourself. For example, you could add headers and footers to individual posts, or you might like to add the new <aside> element. Let us know your ideas and how you get on with implementing them in the comments below!

Download TwentyTen With HTML5 Link

To complement this article, I have created a new version of TwentyTen, with the HTML5 elements we have discussed. Download this theme from TwentyTen Five18.

TwentyTen With HTML519

Other Resources Link

You may be interested in the following articles and related resources:

(al) (vf) (ik)

Footnotes Link

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Richard (@richardshepherd) is a UK based web designer and front-end developer. He loves to play with HTML5, CSS3, jQuery and WordPress, and currently works full-time bringing to life. He has an awesomeness factor of 8, and you can also find him at

  1. 1

    Interesting article. Makes me want to rebuild my WP site now.

  2. 3

    Đurica Bogosavljev

    February 22, 2011 6:21 am

    I was wondering how to do it in WP, and you explain it in this article, GR8!
    Right on time :)

  3. 4

    Excellent post. Last year I converted the Grid Focus theme to HTML5 for use on my own blog and it’s a lot easier than might first be realised.

    This will help a lot of people out there who might have been tentative about converting their theme to HTML5 and I like the way that you explain what each element is for along the way which will aid understanding of these new elements which alas are still alient to some.

  4. 6

    Tomáš Kapler

    February 22, 2011 6:34 am

    Interesting – i did the same just in past few weeks (i have just then go a different way and do not create twentyten theme by my own template). P.S.: to be 100% HTML 5 you should replace also headers, e.g. H1 to asides etc. – i do not like it as it will probably be not accepted by search engines (imo they would see aside H1 as article A1).

    • 7

      no, H1- H5 are still semantically correct as titles. Though it makes more sense to contain them inside a header element. Or if there are multiple H1- H5 titles, inside an hgroup which is inside a header…

      Though aside from the added accessibility, I’m not sure what purpose adding these extra lines of html serve. :

  5. 8

    recently I used html5 with wordpress. i used starkers theme which is based on twenty ten.
    but i used it blindly .. this article helps to understand why and how its done !

    thanks for efforts :)

  6. 9

    Great article. I have been building a custom theme for WordPress using HTML5 but I still picked up some things here that I missed. In particular, time and figures. Now, off to work those in…

  7. 10

    I completely agree with you. With the help of Remy’s script, there is little reason not to use elements like section, aside, header, footer, etc..

    I wouldn’t turn a blog into complete HTML5 yet, but you have to start somewhere :)

  8. 11

    Excellent article. Thanks for taking the time to build a new Twenty-Ten with HTML5. This is great!

  9. 12

    You forgot to close your footer (or you tried to close it with an div) also I’m not a 100% on the the use of Section in that example, otherwise, nice!

    • 13

      I thought that about the section tag use too. I’m sure I read somewhere in the spec that a section cannot be a descendant of a footer…

      Other than that, great article!

  10. 14

    Nice, but PLEASE use `wp_enqueue_script` to add JavaScript files in WordPress!
    See the WordPress Codex for further information.

    • 15

      Richard Shepherd

      February 23, 2011 1:51 am

      Hi Konstantin,

      I didn’t have time to go into the wp_enqueue_script function, but you’re absolutely right. I’ve changed this in the downloadable code!


  11. 16

    Wonderful article! Turning a few things into HTML5 is always the first thing I do when I start using a new WordPress theme, but there’s a lot more than what I’ve been doing, here! I’ll most certainly use these too, now, thanks!

  12. 17

    Great writeup Richard!

    I created another version of TwentyTen a while back using HTML5 as more of a concept that a theme you would use (

    And if anyone is wanting a serious HTML5 starter theme for WordPress, check out the Handcrafted WP Starter Theme (

  13. 18

    Come on man, i just published my blog, now you make me want to rebuild it with HTML 5, great article, thanks

  14. 19

    Wonderful, absolutely perfect. Thank you for putting this together and sharing with everyone!

  15. 20

    Now, HTML5 does many things, but you can’t just add <!doctype html> to the top of a document and get excited that you’re so 2011.

    Indeed. Renaming <div>s is not 2011 either. The “Javascript is required…” part of the solution can be annoying and lets people leave the website instead of turning Javascript on. I have left the old HTML4 markup at all of my websites, in my opinion it doesn’t make any difference.

    • 21

      Indeed. Though thats how I slowly learned html5. I used divs (named as html5 elements) to understand what could be placed where, and how to structure my layout code. Though after a test page or two of that nonsense, It was simple to move into using html5.

      I wouldn’t use html5 on most client projects though. With websites intended for large corporations (think data entry websites etc) it doesn’t make much sense. I’m all for moving the internet forward, but when a majority of the website audience is solely relying on javascript to view a webpage, it can be a disaster waiting to happen.

      Javascript is a bells and whistles layer. There is never a right time to use it as the basic structure of your website. Of course, using it to support your basic structure in case it fails is fine… If your audience doesn’t rely on it too much.

  16. 22

    Great article, a lot of useful information! I think it’s great to experiment with HTML 5 and the future technologies of the web. Keeps you ahead of the game in my opinion. What I think you missed though is that, in my opinion, people aren’t shying away from HTML 5 because they don’t want to learn new markup, but I know the reason that I don’t do anything professionally using HTML 5 is because it is not a finalized standard yet. We still have 3 more years before this thing goes mainstream. A lot can change between now and then, and who wants to have a possibility of a catastrophe happen because the tech can change? That and as you said, it’s hard to implement with the lack of cross-browser compatibility…

    • 23

      Richard Shepherd

      February 23, 2011 1:54 am

      Hey desdev, I don’t think we need to wait 3 years! All modern browsers are now supporting many of the HTML5 tags and you can gracefully degrade back for older browsers. I think the launch of IE9 is going to change the landscape considerably, and as HTML5 (HTML) is a living document ( I think everyone should start using it today!

  17. 24

    A very good article, but there are a couple of points to be made.

    Just because HTML5 doesn’t have the xhtml rules for quotes around things or keeping tags all lower case and things like not needing type=”text/javascript”, its still a good practice to continue to follow those rules we’ve put in place with xhtml. Why?

    As you noted, not all browsers understand HTML5. If we needed type=”text/javascript” in IE7, we still need it even if you’re writing in HTML5.

    As for JavaScript support, you spent a lot of time justifying support the <1.5% people who have it turned off. And that's fine. If you have your JS turned off, your missing out on most of the Internet anyway and as a user you're used to it so you're not going to be missing anything on our HTML5 site anyway. The tags are going to still display, just ugly.

    • 25

      The reason you no longer need ‘type=”text/javascript”‘ is that browser does not care/need it. This includes any version of IE (including IE6/IE7).

      The browser understands that if a file has the .js extension that it is going to be Javascript so there is no need for you to tell it twice.

      A lot of HTML5 changes like this come from looking at what existing browsers actually need/do with the markup you pass through to it.

      Totally agree with what you say about users with Javascript turned off, there will be used to having less of an online experience.

      • 26

        Chris Heilmann

        February 27, 2011 1:57 am

        Actually even more interesting – the .js ending doesn’t mean anything either. What browsers care about is the mime type of the document linked in src. You can for example write a PHP script that generates dynamic JavaScript files and send it with the correct header and it will be executed.

  18. 27

    Awesome, I’m currently upgrade my personal wordpress blog to HTML5… Thank you for good article.

  19. 28


    I have been using HTML5 since it came out and I can say I have had no problems at all, with clients, or with users. I just monitor the percentage of users who don’t have Javascript turned on (using Google Analytics) and make the required changes if needed or requested by my clients.

    *Idea* I have been suggesting to clients that they have a web technical page on their websites which teaches users how to tackle some issues like how to turn on Javascript, and maybe update to the current browser. I know it is a little presumptuous to think they would even look at that page, but hey it is one way to offer help to those who are stuck in the dark ages. lol

    I think this debate will rage on until browsers fully support HTML5, and I can understand other people’s points of view about it being a pain in the arse, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be keeping our skills up to date with the most current trends and techniques.

    I think later this year the benefits of running HTML5 will far out weigh the problems with compatibility… so get on and start using it; “have a play, have a HTML5 day!” ;-)

    • 29

      Just so you are aware, it is not possible to check how many users have Javascript turned off using Google Analytics as Google Analytics code you insert into your website is in fact Javascript. The figure you are looking at is for Java not Javascript.

      Totally agree that the HTML5 debate will continue to rage on until it is fully supported in browsers. The only problems is that by the time it is fully supported there will be a whole bunch of new developments that for us to debate upon.

      Like you say:

      get on and start using it; “have a play, have a HTML5 day!”

      • 30

        Richard Shepherd

        February 23, 2011 2:13 am

        Hey Shaun,

        It is possible! You just need a smart friend like Greig Daines, who I’m lucky enough to work with. He reverse engineered the Google Analytics code, and placed it’s .gif in noscript tags with additional parameters. This gives us an accurate number of non-JS users, which was less than 0.5% :)

        If you’re not able to go that, comparing your server logs to your analytics data should also reveal the number of non-JS users.


  20. 32

    (*: I’m still too young to touch in functions.php or in wp-includes, but there were some nice things I learned about html5 in here. Thanks, Richard Shepherd


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