The HTML5 Logo Conversation

See 2 Feb update.

There has been a lot of discussion as a result of W3C’s HTML5 logo release two days ago. I was especially encouraged by the diverse support for the HTML5 logo and I’m happy with the reception, even if not universally positive.

The announcement on Tuesday was the first step in a conversation to gain community adoption for a logo. We stated in the FAQ “this is not the official logo yet” but clearly the mixed message — “high visibility launch” along with “not yet official” — was confusing to some and caused others to feel slighted. I understand and apologize for that. We released the logo with a goal of building support and we are listening carefully to the feedback.

The most unified criticism has centered around the FAQ’s original statement that the logo means “a broad set of open web technologies”, which some believe “muddies the waters” of the open web platform. Since the main logo was intended to represent HTML5, the cornerstone of modern Web applications, I have updated the FAQ to state this more clearly. I trust that the updated language better aligns with community expectations.

We’ve seen tremendous interest and adoption in a very short time, from a large number of independent Web practioners and developers, as well as prominent companies such as Microsoft, YouTube, Sproutcore, PhoneGap, Sencha, and Jolicloud. We’ve also been delighted by the logo’s positive reception from such notables in the design community as Brand New, Subtraction, and Fast Co Design. I especially like the parodies and remixes. I have no doubt that we can maintain and even build enthusiasm, and be responsive to your feedback, as we continue our work on the visual identity for a number of W3C technologies.

The passion for the open web expressed by people around the world is very motivating. The logo is meant to celebrate the platform we are building together. I look forward to working with you to ensure the open web’s continued success.

Update 2 Feb 2011

Thank you for the feedback! We have updated the logo home page and FAQ. The updates are an improvement and satisfy some of the initial critiques. Now that the text of the of the logo home page and FAQ has stabilized, it is a good time to invite volunteer translations. If you translate the pages, please let us know on w3c-translators@w3.org.

We have not yet addressed the comments about the icons that accompany the HTML5 badge (for styling, semantics, etc.). We will continue to review feedback and expect to refine the classes and iconography to match technologies and specifications as they evolve in the future.

In less than a week we received nearly 2000 T-shirt orders and the logo was adopted on sites internationally. That has been very exciting to watch. I am optimistic that it will provide a foundation for future logo work.

37 thoughts on “The HTML5 Logo Conversation

  1. The logo is strong, but does HTML5 really need a logo? All similar technologies have been fine without one. In fact, there are numerous instances that come to mind where that symbol could be taken advantage of thus leading to more of a separation than unification in the field. A logo for a technology like HTML5 really serves no critical function of the technology other than to look modern.

    I also believe that the other badges like ‘Multimedia’ or ‘Realtime..’ is a display of grand redundancy as you will be showing that your website can do just that when a user visits your site.

  2. The link to the updated FAQ is a 404

    Apart from this, I’m personally happy that you chose a term and a logo (and by the way I like the fact that this term is “HTML5” and I like the logo) to include the whole set of new web technologies out there.

    I think a new “brand” was needed to mark a strong break from everything else, from the “past”.

    It is undoubted that HTML semantic elements, geolocation, multimedia, graphics, CSS3 et alia are a set of related and new web technologies aimed at building a different experience of the web, app centric, device agnostic (sort of) and more user-friendly.

    So what is the problem if the W3C decided to give all this “new stuff” a name to help people (yes, also regular people like me) understand that something real is happening on the web? Maybe the problem is that the name includes the 4 magic letters?

    It’s probably me, but I really don’t understand all the rantings going on…

  3. Its great that the W3C are engaging the community with and talking about the HTMl5 logo. But I think it is more important that the W3C have the conversation with the community about what the HTML5 specification means in the light of changes that occured in response to the logo at the WHATWG (see ‘HTML editor dumps ‘HTML5′ even as W3C touts it’) . Many people including myself (who has been actively involved in the HTML WG since 2007) are more confused than ever about the what and why of W3C HTML5 (frozen moment) vs WHATWG HTML (living standard). If the HTML5 snapshot is merely that a snapshot, why does the W3C need to be involved in the process at all, what value is it bringing to HTML the ‘living standard’ being developed by the WHATWG? It appears on the face of it that the W3C no longer develops HTML it just leases a static copy of it called HTML5, from the WHATWG. If this is the case, the W3C should be honest about it to its members and the wider community.

    1. Hi Steve,

      There are at least two audiences for a specification. Some people are interested in nightly builds and some are interested in stable versions. The people who want nightly builds want the latest features, however experimental. The people who want the stable versions want them for IPR reasons, or because their customers or partners require it, or for government regulation, or other reasons. I think we should meet the needs of both those audiences.

      W3C brings to the table a set of stakeholders, a royalty-free IPR policy, a consensus policy, liaisons with governments, connectivity with other standards bodies, a culture of fairness, and some experience as well. For instance, there are 50 organizations in the HTML Working Group, all of which have made Royalty-Free licensing commitments, designed to ensure that the community can implement these open specs at no cost.

      I am working on a proposal for something new at W3C that will promote even more participation, at zero cost. They are called community groups. We are making W3C a more open environment for developers to participate, and I hope that we will continue to increase our value to you and others in the community.

      _ Ian

  4. Re “open web platform”, is the full phrase “World Wide Web” still actively used by W3C? Or is that too retro or otherwise awkward?

  5. Great work w3c. Thanks for listening. This makes it much clearer. Html5 is the most famous of the specs and it makes sense to use it to drive awareness of the new web.

    1. Hi Antoine,

      I totally agree. “Get translations” is part of the todo list after release. The dust hasn’t quite settled yet (e.g., we updated the FAQ) but if you’d like to start in already, we would welcome the help.


      _ Ian

  6. For me the logo looks like a shield, more like an antivirus program or from a cartoon.

    Since the logo is not the official logo yet, …

  7. I feel that the logo has served a profound purpose for drumming up support to HTML 5. The shield seems to demonstrate power while the ‘5’ signifies innovation, and I would agree that the design serves its purpose of the project. It is understandable that the logo is subject for change, however based on the positive feedback that has been posted from the global community, I see no real purpose to make any change. The logo looks fantastic!

  8. With all due respect, the logo (and the related website) looks as if it belonged to a personal project of Paul Irish – but maybe he didn’t even have anything to do with it? Overall, in my opinion, it lacks gravity – looks too cartoonish.

  9. I can’t believe the w3c is behaving like this. What were you thinking? I’ve looked at all the logos, read the FAQ (twice) and scoured the blog and I still can’t find any mention of unicorns or ponies. Please consider adding at least one unicorn to the designs. Including a pony may also help. Thanks.

  10. The logo looks like a shield and the additional technology logos [1] are very cryptic and indisputably look like some army ranks. Not that I don’t like the army, but using a military visual language for HTML5 is the wrong metaphor. HTML5 is an open standard and the solution for a “web for all”, that’s what we should communicate!

    Also many people tell in their comments that the logo reminds them the design of some sci-fi war movies and games, such as transformers. Here again, I do like sci-fi and games, but this logo should rather convey an image of a mature technology.

    Furthermore, the technology logos represent something visually highly abstract and technically highly complex. They will confuse any visitor, bringing no additional value nor to the visitor, nor to the standard. Even a developer won’t recognize what they are standing for. These tech logos should instead communicate the simplicity of the technologies they are representing.

    And finally, why does this logo show such a prominent number “5”, when the WHATWG wants to drop the version number? It’s a pity that the W3C and the WHATWG don’t work in the same direction or communicate better. This is probably what will hurt HTML much more than just a logo. This logo is now sadly the best image of this lack of coordination.

    As a conclusion, I guess that the best will be to use just the “HMTL” letters of the W3C HTML5 logo. This way it doesn’t look nether childish, nor military, and, above all, it takes the best out of the vision from the W3C and of the WHATWG!

    [1] http://www.w3.org/html/logo/#the-technology

  11. @Ian your argument doesn’t work that well, by modern terms. The “Living Standard” is just as stable, as if someone followed the “recommendation”. AND it will likely promote faster development and integration of the standard, I’ve seen a lot of people who have been hesitate to adopt new elements, my self included.

    W3C has fooled around long enough, we don’t want drafts, we want recommendations. HTML is like a language, its used by everyone, and everyone using a language also add their own twists, which may eventually get integrated in the “dictionary”.

    Its easier to simply label HTML as a recommendation, rather then individual versions. The standard should be allowed to evolve, without delays from the W3C.

    The HTML logo seems rather obsolete, seen in the light of recent events. The “5” part also seems to large for my taste, its like you are trying to promote the 5 part, rather then HTML it self.

    You would surly have someone competent enough with paint.net (or whatever), to create a decent logo, why contact someone outside to make it? It doesn’t even look that special or graphically appealing to me.

  12. Less logo and more progress on the specs would be cool.

    The logo promotes something “not ready yet”. This is NOT a good idea. Never sell a product you can not deliver yet. May I remind the W3C that they said themselves that HTML5 would probably not be final before 2022? Even if it were 2012, you’re coming in too soon with the thing, making it appear as if HTML5 already exists.

    As said: HTML5 IS NOT YET FINISHED – Why try to create a “attracted-by-the-logo community” around that? Go promote the logo at Microsoft, Apple, Opera and the rest. As soon as they fully support the Doctype and as soon as W3C says “done”, get back at us and stop wasting our time with useless propaganda-thingies.

    Pffft… my 2 cents: same #Fail as Twitter.com is still fighting against, and they had a finished product as they started out.

  13. Not sure why people are freaking out, but the logo can still be made smaller and used in conjunction with, or as a subset of, the Open Web Platform.

  14. I like it. It is kind’a cool looking and yes, maybe its a little muscle and look-at-me, but why not – it should. Its a threshold into a new era of html and it will be fun making pages with it. Thank you W3C!

  15. I think that the main logo is a useful, shorthand way of badging (possibly experimental) websites using new technology that may not work in all browsers at time of publishing. If users arrive at a page, and something does not work for them, they should be able to see the logo and (come to) recognize that site may not yet work for them. I believe that this is much preferable to displaying “works best in browser X”.

  16. I am totally agree with BlueBoden. I would prefer having a logo for HTML Living Standard rather than HTML5.

  17. Is HTML 5 antivirus software or a programming language? I get a little confused when I see that cartoonish shield as the logo…

  18. It certainly got some attention. Now we just need to sort out the accessibility of canvas, right? Or have I not being paying attention?

  19. It’s a very good idea to create a logo for HTML 5, but current logo looks funny, it’s not looking professional.

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