It may seem like the days when you had to know your way around a number of mark up languages and even scripting languages to make a website are far behind us. With tools like WordPress, even people who weren’t brought up with computers and the internet, can easily knock up a half decent looking blog in an hour.
For certain, if all you want is a simple blog, and your main goals with it are around providing interesting content in simple media formats (text based articles, images, video clips), you can get what you want without ever having to actually engage with the terrifying sounding ‘code’. This is absolutely possible right now, and is only going to become more and more the norm as the platforms and tools used to build sites, maintain them, and add functionality, become more and more advanced. However, there are still some good arguments for learning at least the most fundamental ‘languages’ (while they are not ‘true’ languages in the programming sense, to all intents and purposes that is what they equate to), HTML and CSS.
Greater Comfort, Less Frustration
While CMS (content management systems) like WordPress and Blogger are very easy to use, these kinds of systems are not flawless and most people who use them will encounter some annoying niggly things as they develop and run their sites. Maybe that photo just won’t align quite how all the others will, or the paragraph after a quote in your article is, for reasons you can’t fathom, in a completely different font. These types of minor problem can be a royal pain in the backside for a site owner, yet for someone who is comfortable switching from WYSIWYG view to look at the HTML for their page, the source of the problem can usually be identified and fixed very easily.
This doesn’t mean you will end up writing all your new content in the HTML view (some people will, but many HTML users just find WYSIWYG easier on the eye for working on text content), or creating the CSS for your site rather than using and modifying a theme, but it does mean that if you want a greater degree of control you have it. You will feel much more confident and comfortable in the environment where you manage your site if you understand them.
It Is Also Easy!
These benefits may not seem worth spending weeks poring over books to learn languages, but the good news is, you really don’t have to. HTML and CSS are actually very structured and easy to follow, so much so that you can learn the basics you need in just a couple of hours and take it from there. A good place to start is with a good CSS3 cheatsheet and some introductory HTML5 stuff. There really is no need to enrol on a course or buy any weighty manuals!
Knowing the fundamentals of HTML and CSS can really help you as you begin to work with websites, and can certainly make you feel much less bewildered when your tools throw up some odd problems!