<a>tag is one of the most important building blocks of the Internet. It lets you create a hyperlink: a piece of text, usually colored blue, that you can use to go to a new page. When you click on a hyperlink, your web browser downloads the new page from the server and displays it on the screen. Most web browsers also store the pages you previously visited so you can quickly go back to them. The best part is, the
<a>tag gives you all of that behavior for free! Just tell the browser where you want to go, and it handles the rest.
For a while, I didn’t understand why anyone did this. Was it just silly make-work, like how every social network redesigns their website every couple years for no discernable reason? Do
<a>tags interfere with some creepy ad-tracking technique? Was there some really complicated technical reason why you shouldn’t use them?
Spoiler: good old-fashioned