Learn basic web code. It is one of the best returns on the investment of your time and attention. Savvy users of the web can sniff out basic templates with default options. If you want your content to have sparkle, learn basic HTML and CSS. If you want to integrate social media tools and make elements look right, learn to code. A high-value designer today is one who can use code for creative content control over their designs and user experiences.
Creativity requires control
I began my career as a designer and illustrator before I had much experience with the Internet. As my career advanced and I started to use the web myself, I realized that the more I could control online, the better my work looked and the better my professional prospects were.
I don’t mean control as in dominating others. When you learn a skill, you need to learn each medium. If you are drawing, the subtle control of pencils on paper is critical. If you are learning to paint illustrations or paintings, the strokes of color, and your ability to lay down areas of color the way you want is the ticket to success.
When you’re preparing content or graphics for the web, you can do what the multitudes to, type the code into a WYSIWYG editor, or hand your materials over to an IT person. Either of those ways, you’re at the mercy of the tastes of others.
The better you understand how HTML, CSS and other kinds of web programming works, the easier it is to execute your will. If I want to make the first word in this sentence red, I have the tools to do it. It isn’t hard, there are just a lot of possible combinations.
Don’t be intimidated. HTML is a markup language. That means the text has markings or symbols that tell it what to do. If you want a paragraph, you put <p> to start the paragraph and then </p> to close it. The open and close tags surround the code.
The best resource I know for learning web code is w3schools.com. My understanding of web code developed the most for a couple of weeks that I did lessons from that website during my lunch hour. I started on the Learn HTML lessons and worked my way down, one lesson at a time. Then I moved to other topics like HTML5 and CSS.
Do I need a server or a web host?
Not for just learning. All you need is a plain text editing tool like Notepad on a PC or textEdit on the mac. You could even to it in Word, but make sure you remove formatting by creating a plain text document.
Then you start creating the code as it demonstrates in the lessons. You save the file on your computer, but change the extension from .txt to .html. Open your favorite browser, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge or if you don’t know what that means, it might be that big blue ‘e’ that you click on to go to the web. You may be an Internet Explorer person. We’ll work on that later, it will work fine for learning. When you open the HTML file in the browser, the tags and other markup code disappears and you see it follow them as instructions.
>> Give it a try or let us know where you are understanding how to use code for creative content control.
Photo: Sample HTML Code CC0 – Public Domain via Wikipedia