There was a time, not so long ago in fact, when to make even a pretty lame looking static webpage, you needed to know at the very least HTML. To make a whole site that looked consistent and uniform (which of course, not all sites did) you would definitely need to know CSS. And if you wanted any on page interactive features, animations or any of that fancy stuff, you’d need to throw in some scripting with a bit of JavaScript.


Royalty free photo

If your site then needed to talk to any kind of back end, for example to allow a user to create an account or even submit a simple feedback form, you’d have to start thinking in terms of ASP, and for that, you’d need some VBScript, some SQL, and, well, you get the picture. Of course, you could use packages to help you (anybody remember HoTMetaL Pro and Dreamweaver?), but it was still a pretty big learning curve to go from knowing nothing to having a beautiful, functional live website (and besides, you wanted to be hard core by making your pages in Notepad).

How Things Have Changed!

Of course, the internet has matured a lot since the late nineties and very early noughties when these skills were all essential to making an even halfway professional looking site. Many successful bloggers will have absolutely no idea what any of the languages mentioned in the first paragraph are (or were, in the case of some of them which have been superseded), and yet will have designed and built their own sites from scratch with no help from a professional in a matter of minutes. Platforms like WordPress make this easy, so is there really any point in learning web development skills if you just want a nice looking site with a few decent features?

Web Development Skills Still Have Some Value

Obviously, if you want to be a professional web developer, you are going to need pretty good skills in all of the languages and technologies used for the modern web, but if you are just a humble website owner – perhaps someone with an idea for a site or blog, or someone who’d like a good site for their own business – should you learn or just go with what you can do using ‘no coding required’ approaches?

Actually, if you have a little time and are interested in having a good site, it can, at the very least, be worth it to learn HTML. The most up to date version of HTML is HTML 5 which has features way beyond the earlier versions, which were essentially only good for formatting stuff on a page. By knowing this, you can fix problems with the appearance of your site far more easily than trying to use the WYSIWYG style editor, and may find updating or changing your site far less frustrating. HTML is also notoriously intuitive to learn, so much so that ‘real’ programmers don’t even consider it a proper language – you can pick it up very quickly. A good place to start is with this handy HTML5 guide, which is also a good thing to keep for reference.