Do you need to learn code to build a website?

As a job title, “Web Developer” can represent a wide range of skill levels nowadays. There is no certification required, meaning anyone can watch a few YouTube tutorials and technically, with the basics in hand, call themselves a web developer.

Web development is an often appealing career path, offering the opportunity to become self-employed relatively quickly, as well as being able to choose your own hours, which clients you take on, what amount of money you wish to charge, enjoying minimum overheads or upfront investment and so on. Because of these perks, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic causing many people to consider digital-based income opportunities, some have found themselves wondering what it really takes to go from having no knowledge of web development, to being able to roll out websites fit for real business use.

One of the first things people assume is that you must enrol yourself in a coding course of some description before you get started with building a website. While we wouldn’t necessarily want to discourage this, people are often surprised to learn that, especially nowadays, you can easily build a website with no coding knowledge whatsoever. Some would furthermore argue there are worthwhile benefits in using as little custom code as possible when building websites. Such as creating a website that is easy for client’s to edit themselves later on, or hand over to another developer.

We conducted a quick poll in the “WordPress.” Facebook group, the largest WordPress-related group on the platform with 43,000 members and counting, most of whom would consider themselves website designers or developers in some form or other. When asked, “When you first began building websites, did you first learn a coding language, or did you just jump in with a CMS and learn HTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript/etc whenever the need arose?”, 56% of respondents voted that they jumped in using a CMS and learnt whatever code was needed as things came up, while the remaining 44% of respondents voted that they learnt to code first.

One thing everyone can generally agree on however is that the answer to “Do you need to learn code to build a website?” is no. It is 100% possible to launch a website without ever touching a single character of code. Heck, you can technically even do it in under an hour.

The debate largely revolves around whether you still should learn a coding language, and whether that should be done before you begin, or after. As seen from the poll results, many people found success simply from jumping in and getting started with an open-source CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, and figuring out any custom code requirements as the need arose. Others preferred to build a foundation of coding knowledge for themselves before touching a website. Our prerogative is that there is nothing wrong with either method, so long as you are not overselling your abilities or under-delivering on results to real-life clients.

If you choose to get started building a CMS website (such as WordPress) without any coding knowledge, it is highly likely that you will eventually come across a situation that requires you to begin learning some. It may be that your chosen website theme does not offer the option to set the particular size or colour of a certain part of your website, and thus, the only way to achieve the look you want is with a little bit of custom CSS code.

Finding out how to make such edits is usually relatively easy. There are reasonably few things you could think of that haven’t already been asked on a forum or question board somewhere online. There are also countless written guides, tutorials and YouTube videos covering any number of customisations you might want to learn.

Even so, there will still likely come a time when you need to achieve something particularly unique or complex, that proves just a bit too difficult to find a previously-asked answer to. In these situations, people often turn to support groups (such as Facebook Groups, Twitter communities and so on) relevant to the software they are using, or simply outsource the problem to a more experienced developer through websites such as Freelancer.com.au, for a fixed fee.

At the end of the day, it really depends on the requirements, budget and expectations of your client, as well as what you are most comfortable with.

For those that do prefer to work with a solid foundation of knowledge under their belt, learning HTML and CSS is a great place to start regardless of which CMS (if any) you intend to work with. Codecademy is a well known, and best of all free, source for online coding courses, and offers options covering all of the above!

As always, if you have any questions about this post or our shared hostingVPSreseller or dedicated server plans, simply call us on 1300 MY HOST (694 678) during business hours, or submit a ticket through our Support Portal and one of the crew will be in touch!

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