Why should you learn HTML and CSS in 2023?

So, lets say you want to build a website. Should you bother learning HTML and CSS in 2023? It is almost impossible to watch Youtube without seeing a sponsorship for Squarespace, or some similar tool that will enable you by simply building a website by just dragging and dropping some elements. They even have beautiful templates and all the backend support you could wish for. Setting up a web shop or something was never this easy! Surely you no longer need to learn all that coding stuff?

Yet, despite all of that, I will be arguing that learning these languages is still worth it. A tool like Squarespace does offer a lot of convenience, but that comes at a cost. For starters, using a predesigned template will not make your website very unique; it will just look the same as all the other websites that were made using that template. In a digital space that is very crowded, standing out will be one of the most important things if you want to be taken serious. Not to mention the fact that websites produced in this manner all look very sterile, if not outright boring.

Sure, you could change the template a little, (or even design a new one with the Squarespace blueprint mode!) but you are still limited by what some other developer made for you. The elements, the way they behave, all of that is still predetermined. An added downside of that is that the file also gets significantly larger due to how these websites operate, which in turn increases loading time. That doesn’t matter much when people are at home, but when someone is dependent on train Wi-Fi a few more KB suddenly change everything…

Yet when you are able to write and edit HTML and CSS you will be able to make much more flexible websites. Let’s be honest, how many of you actually want to build a web shop? The majority will either make one for self expression, or for a practical purpose. Not being the artsy type myself, I very much fall into the latter category. Allow me to give a practical example of when my coding knowledge came in useful.

In order to limit the exposition I will be simplifying the scenario a little, so my apologies if it sounds a little boring. I do scouting, and one day I was supposed to organise an ‘opkomst’ as we call it; basically a program of activities for our next meeting. I decided to make an ARG of some sorts, think of it as a practical puzzle game. It worked like this: there were two teams, one in a ‘command centre’, and the other one was walking around outside. The walking team would find QR codes that led to my website, where the command team could find clues to point them to the next QR code. Everything was made so that both teams would constantly be busy. In this case, I did not need a fancy website. One page contained just an  audio file of some morse code, another simply some numbers. They just existed to support the puzzles I had made.

In this case, a fancy website would have been more of a hindrance than a benefit. The only reason I could make that admittedly really cool program was by knowing some HTML. To be perfectly clear, I do not hate tools like Squarespace, and I do not mean this post to just hate on them. I am trying to convince you that you shouldn’t leave it at just knowing how to use these tools. If you have at least some coding skill you can make some very useful stuff. If anything, I hope I inspired you to go and pick this up, or at least piqued your interest in this subject.

After talking about them so much, the least i can do is link their website: https://www.squarespace.com/

If you want to start learning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUMe1FH4CHE (though this one is rather long. I reccomend you just google around for a turtorial that fits your needs, there are plenty of them :D)