Web design can seem like a black art; some inaccessible world that you’ll never understand. The truth is, coding websites is an acquired skill just like any other – and it’s not as complicated as you might think.
No one is born knowing how to code, and all it takes to start creating your own websites is the desire to make it happen and a bit of basic knowledge to get started. You can have a beautiful website online in no time once you learn a few basic things.
One of the best ways to get into coding is to learn how to use HTML and CSS. Even if you have no prior knowledge of designing for the internet, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of HTML. HTML is a mark-up language used to tell a web browser which parts of a webpage are which.
For example, you can tag different chunks of text with HTML to tell the browser whether they are a header (<h>header</h>), a paragraph (<p>paragraph</p>), a list (<ul>unordered list</ul>) and so on. This gives the browser the basic building blocks it needs to display the webpage you are creating.
There will be an HTML file for every page of your website, telling the browser how to structure the page and containing information about which other pages on the site it should link to.
It’s when you bring CSS into the picture that things start to get more interesting. CSS (which stands for Cascading Style Sheets) is a language used for formatting the elements on a webpage; telling the browser what font, colour, positioning and so on to apply to elements such as headers, backgrounds and images (all the bits which can be defined using HTML).
These two languages used in combination are very versatile and it is possible to build a beautiful and highly functional website using nothing but HTML and CSS.
In the old days, entire sites were built using just HTML. This was a very time consuming approach, and one which was highly susceptible to inconsistencies and mistakes. If you wanted to change the font of the whole site you’d have to make changes to the HTML file for every page of the site. CSS changed all that.
Now, you can link every HTML file to one CSS file, and use that one CSS file to apply formatting across every page of the site. Think about it like this – the CSS talks to all the HTML files and tells them that everything tagged as, say, a paragraph should be a particular font, size, colour or whatever.
Just by dropping one simple bit of code into every HTML file for a website you can now format the entire site at once without having to edit each HTML file separately. Suddenly building websites is quicker, simpler and it’s easier than ever before to ensure your site meets web standards for clean, high quality code.
You can actually build an entire website without internet access, but you’ll need an internet connection to get it online – you can compare TalkTalk and other internet providers to find the best deal for this.
So if you want to learn how to build websites, using HTML and CSS is a great place to begin. There are a lot of online tutorials, but it is important to be discerning about which to use because you want to learn nice, clean coding. Check out Code Academy for straightforward and reliably high quality examples and tutorials.