Web Design with WordPress – What is Possible Without Knowledge of HTML and CSS

5 Min.
WordPress  html css

Let's get the clear facts out first – WordPress is based on PHP and MySQL databases. It enables you to get started quickly with web design even without prior knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript – meaning you can still create attractive and functional websites. In fact, you can even implement e-commerce solutions without having to write a single line of code. Knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript is helpful, but not a requirement. But what does this mean for the world of web design?

The design is not just what it looks like, a design is how it works.

Steve Jobs

HTML and CSS are not programming languages from a technical perspective

HTML and CSS describe the structure of the content and the style of the elements. HTML tells a web browser what content to display, CSS is responsible for how the content is displayed. We separate content, presentation and behavior from each other.

The logic-based programming language JavaScript

You use JavaScript (JS) to make websites interactive. JS allows you to control the behavior of different content elements in response to actions on the website. For someone with experience in web design or development, some requirements can be solved faster with JS. This means you don't have to rely on third parties and the skill can sometimes even be translated into cash.

Knowledge of HTML basics is a valuable skill in troubleshooting. In addition, it gives you the confidence to make changes on your own, not only in standard WordPress themes.

The wide range of ready-made WordPress themes & plugins

The search for a suitable WordPress theme is worthwhile. Since no complex programming for layout and design is necessary, you will reach your goal faster. You simply exchange the demo content in the editor of your choice. For every conceivable requirement you will find Themes or Plugins. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them. Both free - you can find them in the official WordPress Theme directory, for example - and extensive premium versions are available. In the combination of different Plugins you can create completely new and complex applications. There are no limits to your ideas, right up to fully automated workflows.

Web Design with WordPress – What is Possible Without Knowledge of HTML and CSS
Free WordPress Theme on wordpress.org

WordPress Design: Install new Theme , the makeover is complete

That's all you need at WordPress to change the look of your website again. A ready-made Theme contains basic settings. These determine the appearance and create a uniform look. However, if you are not satisfied with this, you can optimise the Theme settings to significantly improve functionality, appearance or usability. Many Themes offer customised user interfaces for this purpose. 

Criteria for the selection of a Themes:

  • Versatile flexibility
  • Fast loading times and performance
  • Ready-made demo page templates
  • Mobile First Claim
  • Compatible with popular page builders
  • Lightweight with reliable updates
  • E-commerce integration

WordPress Plugins : Small supporters with helpful functions for everyday life

Before installing and activating Plugins , you should check current ratings and the number of active installations with the manufacturer. Always keep Plugins up to date to close potential security gaps. It is advisable to make a backup beforehand. If an update causes problems, you can easily restore the backup.

To find the best Plugins for your needs, I recommend the following procedure:

  1. List all the functions you need for your website
  2. Search for a variety of Plugins for each required function
  3. Prefer highly rated Plugins with over 100,000 active installations
  4. Create a list of the 10 best Plugins for each function
  5. Check FAQs and documentation of each Plugins and tutorials
  6. Reduce the list to the 3 best Plugins for each function
  7. Install and activate the first Plugin for test purposes.

Working with templates, Themes or Plugins is not a bad thing. In many cases, they allow you to achieve quick results. Using Plugins can save you a lot of time and development costs. On the other hand, you quickly become dependent on many individual third parties.

WordPress Editor: Creation and changes - simple and clear

The WordPress 5 update has revolutionised many things. In the in-house Gutenberg editor, the design of elements and entire sites can be created in functional blocks. Code editors are basically text editors with additional functions. A code editor must support the programming language used. For WordPress this means HTML and CSS, but also PHP and JavaScript. Some editors also work offline.

Here are some functions of the editor that make your work easier:

  • Autocomplete, where the editor makes suggestions to speed up the writing process
  • Syntax highlighting to improve the readability of the code and make it easier to find errors
  • Search and replace to drastically reduce the time needed to implement multiple changes
  • FTP support so you don't have to download, edit and upload files again.

It is very helpful to inform yourself about the different types of page builders and editors and the options they offer if you want to choose one. The handling of page builders is usually intuitive and fluent after a short period of familiarisation.

Frequently commented advantages of page builders:

  • Easy to use with drag and drop
  • Real-time editing with live preview
  • Compatible with most WordPress Themes
  • Often bring their own content elements
  • Ready-made templates with demo content
  • Convenient front end management
  • Additional functions for Theme- or Plugin-Addons 

Users report these disadvantages:

  • Require a certain learning curve at first
  • Pagebuilders can slow down Theme
  • Often chargeable for full range of functions
  • When changing, mostly not compatible with existing content

Editors are becoming more and more popular. The drag-and-drop functionality enables more and more users to create an attractive design without much previous knowledge. In many cases, access is granted to entire template libraries that contain even more designs.

16 Pagebuilder in comparison

If you're not sure which page builder is right for your needs, feel free to check out our comparison of the 16 most popular WordPress page build ers.

WordPress Trends: The future of your website

In the future, web design will develop in a direction that will offer more space for the individual experience. Content will be tailored specifically to the needs of visitors. You may get a completely different web page when you call up a URL than I do at a different time in a different country because of your browser, cookie and country settings.

Good HTML and CSS skills are still essential

HTML, CSS and JS have been constantly evolving to work harmoniously in conjunction. And because of the concept used (separation of presentation, content and behaviour), these technologies have a very broad standard with very large specifications, benefits and possibilities. Nowadays you will find HTML, CSS and JS on most websites. As they are as important requirements as the markup languages themselves, you should not stop implementing them on your website!

Before artificial intelligence takes over our front-end jobs

The way HTML is constructed and how it ends up in the DOM will continue to change. But you still need to know what good HTML looks like. You need to know how to structure HTML so that it's useful for your SEO, accessible to users and suitable for design. The way CSS ends up in the browser and how it is applied will continue to change, but you still need to know how to use it. You need to know how to create layouts, manage spacing, adjust typography and design tastefully.

Replacing proven technologies is a very difficult process, as backward compatibility for old browser versions must be maintained. In the future, HTML and CSS will probably get new features, for example new HTML tags and new CSS box models, variables and functions. So will HTML and CSS be replaced? Probably not, but they will no longer be used in the same way as before.

Even if HTML, CSS and JS do not seem so important for the application of WordPress at first glance, they are. This is because their use offers better control over aspects of content output. Their execution allows you to improve your SEO and positioning techniques, which is crucial for your digital marketing strategy.

Conclusion: Better websites with WordPress , HTML, CSS & JS

The foregoing is not intended to encourage people to start creating their own website at random without any prior knowledge. Although, as I said, this is undoubtedly possible. Nevertheless, there are always moments when knowledge of HTML, CSS and JS makes life easier as a website operator. The topics of security and SEO remain completely untouched by this.

After guest appearances as an employee in web agencies, Thorsten Litzki, a trained media designer and now an entrepreneur himself, has been writing professionally as a story designer and SEO copywriter for companies, blogs and on social media since 2011. His heartfelt topic is still WordPress and the rapid development of the popular CMS since the early days.

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