One of the best things about the internet is that it is an ecosystem whose content is created by its users. From almost the very first days of the internet, tools have been available to allow people to produce their own websites. Over time, these tools have become simplified to the point that it is now possible to build a professional looking website with no coding knowledge whatsoever!
So Why Do I Need to Learn to Code?
There are a lots of reasons web developers should learn to code.
- You won’t be restricted by the default assets of your website builder.
- You will be able to let your imagination soar and create any kind of website you want.
- You will equip yourself with a useful (and marketable) skill for the future.
In this guide, we take a look at the most important programming languages for web developers. Not every web developer will need all these languages, so you should be selective about which ones you pursue. If you are going to learn to code for websites, these are the languages you should choose from.
Java is a relatively simple language to learn, but still a very capable one. Java was initially intended for interactive television in the 1990s, however, the developers soon realised that it wasn’t suitable for the burgeoning industry. Today, Java powers many home appliances such as DVD players and Freeview boxes.
Like Java, Python is a versatile language and one of the easiest to learn. Python is designed to be a dynamic language, meaning that the code can be written and executed without being compiled, just like Java. It is also a language that has been designed with readability in mind. If you look at some Python code then, even with a minimal amount of coding knowledge, you can often work out what it is doing.
While Python is often recommended as a good choice for a first programming language to learn (and we repeat that recommendation here), it is still very powerful. From the perspective of a web developer, there really isn’t much that can’t be done with Python.
CSS is a little different to the above languages. CCS is short for cascading style sheets, and it is considered to be a mark-up language. CSS is used to control how a web page will appear, enabling web developers to make their websites dynamic. A dynamic webpage will rearrange and adjust itself to provide the optimal experience based on the user’s setup.
Those of you old enough to still remember Myspace (we are ancient by internet standards) may recognise CSS as the mark-up language used to control the appearance of your Myspace profile page. CSS works in conjunction with another very important mark-up language called HTML.
Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) is the language of the internet, and the most important language for a web designer to know. If you use a website builder with a graphical interface, meaning that you can drag and drop elements in the editor to create your site, the builder will convert your actions into HTML code.
You can see how this works for yourself. Simply open a new project in your chosen website builder and switch to HTML view. You will see a few lines of code, but not much. Now, add some elements to your website, it doesn’t matter what, but just add one or two. Now, when you go back to the HTML view, you will see that code has been automatically inserted to make your design a reality.
PHP is a server-side programming language, and a relatively young one, launched in 2004. In the interceding 14 years, PHP has become widely used, now featuring on hundreds of millions of websites the world over. Big names like WordPress and Facebook utilise PHP extensively. Unlike most other programming languages, PHP is an interpreted script language. This means that the code needs to be processed by a piece of software called an interpreter.
The need for an interpreter means that PHP is mostly used server-side, so the server owner can ensure that the right interpreter is in place. PHP is generally used to automate repetitive server-side tasks and processes.
What Else Do I Need?
Once you have settled down with a good programming language and begun to develop your skills, you will no doubt want to get out there and start sharing your scripts with the world. However, being able to build a website is only half the battle – you also need to host it.
There is a plethora of web hosting services out there for you to choose from. If you are looking to set up a business, or you want a website that is professional, you will need to pay for dedicated web hosting. While you are finding your feet with coding, you can use one of the many free web hosting services as a temporary measure, just so you can get stuff online.
If you are serious about website building, learning to code is essential. While you might be able to get by without any coding, you will be severely limiting what you can achieve. The above languages are all excellent choices for a budding web developer to learn.