How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?



  • So as I posted in a thread, I teach a 1 semester basic web design class at the high-school level. The curriculum is entirely in my hands. I've taught it now 4 times, and each time I change it up and re-think things. At this point, I only teach HTML 5 and CSS 3. No javascript or frameworks or bootstrap--all hand entered static HTML and CSS.

    I'm entirely self-taught in all my tech stuff, and have never held a job where web development/design was part of the official duties. In fact, everything I know about it I taught myself in preparation for teaching this class (hey, it was better than the other options for electives).

    I'd like to hear from those of you who actually do this for a living.

    1. Imagine you were hiring a junior intern-level web designer. What skills would you expect that person to have?
    2. How much do you actually directly enter HTML tags/CSS rules? Is there a large variation between different web design jobs?
    3. What positions would focus more on these skills (HTML and CSS)? Front-end design (or is that mostly done with tools/forcing javascript to emit HTML/CSS)?

    Any other suggestions as to what I should focus on would be greatly appreciated. Suggestions to teach them Node.js will be summarily ignored.

    Note: the kids who take this class range from self-taught geniuses to seniors who need another art credit but don't want to draw.



  • @Benjamin-Hall I think there is a lot of variation there. I survived a long time only doing JavaScript enough to do a few validations on forms, but there are places that focus heavily on the front end and their frameworks. A NodeBB developer would need to know a lot of this stuff.



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    At this point, I only teach HTML 5 and CSS 3. No javascript or frameworks or bootstrap--all hand entered static HTML and CSS.

    Suggestions to teach them Node.js will be summarily ignored.

    I like you :wink:



  • Web dev jobs around here doesn't seem to favor the plain stuff much. Mainly front end development with a lot of JS frameworks, such as Angular and the like. Last year I did a full stack developer course based off the local needs and that one had very little in plain HTML and CSS. CSS was done using Bootstrap and there was plenty JS with jQuery and Angular. Not a whole lot of PHP though, instead there was JSP. And SQL databases on the backend ofc. Thankfully I could get a Linux server to run it all on, as Windows Server liked being bitchy. And they used 2012 with the wonderful Windows 8.1 interface.

    For some more WTF; one of my classmates was all about the "trendy" stuff and wanted to use a NoSQL database for a project when it was the completely wrong tool for the job. He did not listen to reason. I decided to work as little as possible with the pile of idiocy he was concocting and took on the role of managing the server instead.

    But I would say that knowledge of basic HTML and CSS is still helpful as a web developer. As it is now I am unsure if it's possible to get a job as a web dev with only that based off my knowledge of local requirements and what web dev friends say, but it is a foundation at least.


  • BINNED

    In the same way as it's really helpful to know about pointers and memory management, even if you only code in a memory managed language, I think every web dev should know raw HTML, CSS and Javascript even if they never actually use them directly.



  • @Atazhaia said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    But I would say that knowledge of basic HTML and CSS is still helpful as a web developer. As it is now I am unsure if it's possible to get a job as a web dev with only that based off my knowledge of local requirements and what web dev friends say, but it is a foundation at least.

    I really doubt you'd be able to get a job as a web dev with just HTML/CSS. JavaScript is pretty much a must if you're doing front end / full stack development, although I suppose developers who use transpilers like GWT or Vaadin would probably argue that point.


  • SockDev

    @Jaloopa said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    I think every web dev should know raw HTML, CSS and Javascript even if they never actually use them directly.

    Seconded. No framework or toolkit is perfect, and you'll inevitably run into issues. If you understand how the basics work and how they combine into the more advanced stuff, it'll make it easier to work out issues caused by the tools being used and fix/work around them.



  • When I asked my friend about pointers for when I started writing my own website he told me that even if I was planning to use mostly plain HTML/CSS I should make them PHP from the start, even if only for the occasional helper function. He said he was doing nearly everything as PHP, and if he wasn't using any PHP he was using plenty JS instead.



  • @Atazhaia said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    When I asked my friend about pointers for when I started writing my own website he told me that even if I was planning to use mostly plain HTML/CSS I should make them PHP from the start, even if only for the occasional helper function. He said he was doing nearly everything as PHP, and if he wasn't using any PHP he was using plenty JS instead.

    Those things are pretty much a requirement nowadays. How else are you gonna get web-scale XSS and enterprise class SQL injection capability?



  • @LaoC I'm not up on his level, especially since I'm not working as a web dev myself atm. Although most modern web devs would probably say I'm :doing_it_wrong: for using mainly plain HTML and CSS with responsiveness through simplicity, because I guess I should be using all the latest JS libraries for cool transitions and animations when displaying some text and occasional picture. Because fuck simple and fast-loading pages I guess.



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    Suggestions to teach them Node.js will be summarily ignored

    Well, it has nothing to do with web design, so one would hope so.



  • Thanks everybody so far--a follow up question occurs to me. Is there a difference between web design and web development as far as jobs go?



  • @Benjamin-Hall definition we use here, in bumfuckinstan:

    Here we have webdesigners that don't do JavaScript and just make the looks of the page, but do it an order of magnitude faster and better looking than a developer. These guys are artists, not coders.

    A webdeveloper is front-end developer that makes functional websites. Frequently a full stack developer.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    Is there a difference between web design and web development as far as jobs go?

    There are no fixed definitions, but the former usually includes using Photoshop and similar programs and writing the basic CSS, while the latter is mostly a frontend JS programming job.

    Basically, what @fbmac@groo said.



  • @LaoC Hire the right dev and they'll figure out a way!



  • @groo thanks. That was the general sense I had. What tools do the designers use? I get that they often draw up the look in Photoshop, but do they actually write any html? Or do they just write the CSS and let the developer produce the html.

    Also, when you use PHP etc to generate the pages, you have to understand the rules of HTML, right? You may not be writing an HTML document, but you're writing chunks of html in your PHP. Or am I totally off base.


  • SockDev

    @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    1. Imagine you were hiring a junior intern-level web designer. What skills would you expect that person to have?
    • The ability to reason critically about a problem.
    • The ability to know that random copy pasting of code of stack exchange is not going to result in a good solution even if, with proper caution, stack exchange can be a learning resource
    • The ingrained and automatic understanding that it's okay to ask questions of your seniors. After all we've been in this position before and know what it's like.
    • basic programming skills, preferably in our primary language, but other languages accepted if the candidate shows interest and aptitude in learning
    • basic computer skills, i wish i didn't have to list this separately from programming skills buuuuut.... here we are

    @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    How much do you actually directly enter HTML tags/CSS rules? Is there a large variation between different web design jobs?

    as little as possible. Use the frameworks, write helpers to fart out the boilerplate you need in dozens of places so you're not copy pasting, and most importantly use LESS or SASS to minimize the CSS boilerplate

    @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    What positions would focus more on these skills (HTML and CSS)? Front-end design (or is that mostly done with tools/forcing javascript to emit HTML/CSS)?

    None of them really? like i said manually writing HTML or CSS should be kept to a minimum, instead the frameworks should be used to generate as much of it as possible, and when the framework doesn't generate the shit you need and you need it more than once you write a function to fart it out with whatever data values you need, that way if you change your layout you only need to change it once.

    Same with CSS, use LESS or SASS to write in a higher level and let teh compiler fart out all the tweaks and fixes needed to make all browsers do the right thing.


  • BINNED

    @accalia said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    The ingrained and automatic understanding that it's okay to ask questions of your seniors. After all we've been in this position before and know what it's like.

    That was my biggest weakness as a junior. It's a very useful thing to work on



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    Imagine you were hiring a junior intern-level web designer. What skills would you expect that person to have?

    Thanks everybody so far--a follow up question occurs to me. Is there a difference between web design and web development as far as jobs go?

    The old "frontend" role has kind of splintered off into 3 branches.

    • UX and/or app designers. Basically, the people who speak with the business folk and design the app flow and user interface. I'll also lump graphical design here, as this has become increasingly irrelevant due to the flat design movement. Depending on the size of business, this can be 1 to 4+ different roles.

      These people need to understand how apps in general work, but very little about HTML & CSS in particular.

    • Web app developers. They use js frameworks (SPA or other) and SASS/LESS compilers (usually with bootstrap or similar framework). This has become serious programming, on par with native client development.

      They need moderate HTML + CSS knowledge, enough to make widgets and wrangle with bootstrap. But they can get away without knowing exactly how to set up CSS grid or do animations.

    • Website designers. They make traditional websites. These are the people who need to know their HTML + CSS, as they'll usually start from scratch or with some minimal scaffolding. They don't need to have a lot of UX chops and only need the basic javascript (jQuery is still the king here). They DO need graphic design, though (at least PSD cutting). Some basic PHP for Wordpress or similar CMS is a nice plus.

    Since junior is not likely to become a client facing person, they'll be put in one of the later 2 roles. So I'd expect at least moderate competence with HTML and CSS, and then on top of that, either graphic design or programming.



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    Also, when you use PHP etc to generate the pages, you have to understand the rules of HTML, right? You may not be writing an HTML document, but you're writing chunks of html in your PHP. Or am I totally off base.

    A PHP page is just an HTML page embedded in a PHP page. You have to understand both.

    PHP is basically a programming language that you use to write HTML pages.



  • @anotherusername said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    PHP is basically a programming language that you use to write HTML pages.

    :pendant: Only if you consider webservices/CLI tools/AGI/etc to be HTML pages :pendant:



  • @Benjamin-Hall I'd say that web designers need intimate knowledge of the DOM and how JS needs to interact with it. They need a reasonably good introductory knowledge of CSS -- mostly, they need to understand what CSS is, how it works, and how CSS classes work -- and how to change them from JS. They should also have a pretty thorough understanding of @media rules. They also need to know how XMLHttpRequest works, and what CORS does (and the limitations of not having it).



  • @TimeBandit :pendant: noted. Would it be safe to say that among other things, PHP is basically a programming language that you use to write HTML pages?



  • @TimeBandit True enough. Within the context of a webpage, though, it's being used to write HTML pages.

    It can also serve images, documents, ... pretty much any type of resource that can be loaded from a web URL ... or even open raw sockets for entirely different services, though that's less common.

    But most of the time, the user's first interaction with your PHP server will be to get an HTML page from it.



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    Would it be safe to say that among other things, PHP is basically a programming language that you use to write HTML pages?

    PHP is a programming language that you can use to write HTML pages, among other things.

    Yes.



  • @anotherusername said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    It can also serve images, documents, ... pretty much any type of resource that can be loaded from a web URL,database, local file system, remote file system, etc

    FTFY



  • @TimeBandit it can access those, but it generally doesn't serve as those...



  • @anotherusername Sorry, misunderstood you.

    I need more coffe :shrug_tone1:



  • @Atazhaia said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    @LaoC I'm not up on his level, especially since I'm not working as a web dev myself atm. Although most modern web devs would probably say I'm :doing_it_wrong: for using mainly plain HTML and CSS with responsiveness through simplicity, because I guess I should be using all the latest JS libraries for cool transitions and animations when displaying some text and occasional picture. Because fuck simple and fast-loading pages I guess.

    I was being ironic :trollface:
    SQL injection and XSS are not very desirable things in a web application, and using PHP and JS for no good reason (not that there ever was one for the former) just increases your risk of exposing yourself to them. Don't believe the hype.



  • @LaoC I was also being ironic. I am not a fan of the current trends in web development. I want my pages light and fast to load, so the less reliance on things like PHP and JS the better. There are valid uses for them, but they're used for so much unnecessary fluff nowadays. In my current design I'm using a tiny amount of PHP to solve one problem, because it looked like the easiest and simplest way. JS I don't really want to use for tiny things and definitely not for non-interactive content.



  • I think what you're teaching is about as good as you can reasonably get for a 1 semester high-school class that anyone can take. You're not going to turn the laziest guy in the class into someone hirable in that amount of time.

    Personally, I would like an entry-level web designer to know HTML and CSS decently well, know a smattering of Javascript, at least enough to do and understand basic JQuery stuff, and enough of an understanding of templating that I can hand them a template for a page that I dummied up and say "Make this look pretty" and they can figure out what to do with some guidance. I'd like them to have at least basic image manipulating skills in Photoshop or something equivalent as well.

    HTML, a fair amount. Barring HTML tag helper templating languages like HAML, we write most of the HTML structure manually. The templates usually take care of the repetitive stuff and separating out sub-views, but yeah, IMO you should be comfortable typing in HTML by hand, and a little repetition doesn't hurt when you're learning.

    CSS, pretty minimal for me. Usually we have a bunch of pre-existing CSS or use Bootstrap or something. Gotta enter one occasionally when something just can't be made to look right with the existing classes. I'd leave most of the CSS to designers, so an entry-level one should at least know the basics, and you better be damn good at it to be a Senior Designer.

    This is all front-end designer stuff. Even if you're heavily using a SPA Javascript framework, you're still going to be entering in a lot of HTML, so you gotta know it.



  • @UndergroundCode said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    at least enough to do and understand basic JQuery stuff

    Or, better yet, you could teach them JavaScript without shackling them to jQuery.



  • @anotherusername said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    @UndergroundCode said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    at least enough to do and understand basic JQuery stuff

    Or, better yet, you could teach them JavaScript without shackling them to jQuery.

    It's a one-semester high-school class mostly focusing on HTML and CSS, you can only do so much. I wouldn't bother with any kind of Javascript in a class like that.



  • @UndergroundCode What I got from his question was that it sounded like he was asking more about whether you'd expect a front-end (Javascript) developer to know about HTML/CSS, and how much of it. Sounds like he's been teaching HTML/CSS and looking to start also teaching a class on Javascript (and possibly PHP?), and he's wondering how much of the HTML/CSS stuff to include in that.



  • @anotherusername nah, I'm just gathering basic information so I can evaluate what I'm doing. I have absolutely no plans to teach JavaScript. I know enough to know I don't like it. The other "programming" class I could teach is a python one, but there's lots of demand for the HTML/css class right now, so I end up teaching it both semesters.

    The only JavaScript component they might use is a picture carousel implementation I wrote/stole that doesn't use jQuery. And that's optional.

    The final project (instead of an exam) is to build a functioning website for a club or sport. They go all the way from basic design wireframe to finished code. Entirely static site, but all handwritten. There are functional requirements, and I do run it through a validator and doing heavily for invalid html.



  • When I read basic web design on a university level the course amounted to 5 weeks of full-time studies. It included plain HTML5, plain CSS, responsive design, plain JavaScript, some PHP and interacting with a MySQL database. We did get informed about jQuery, but using it was optional and the teacher didn't go into any depth about it. But cramming that much into high school level maybe is a bit much, and I dunno how much time would be available anyway.



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    @anotherusername nah, I'm just gathering basic information so I can evaluate what I'm doing. I have absolutely no plans to teach JavaScript. I know enough to know I don't like it. The other "programming" class I could teach is a python one, but there's lots of demand for the HTML/css class right now, so I end up teaching it both semesters.

    The only JavaScript component they might use is a picture carousel implementation I wrote/stole that doesn't use jQuery. And that's optional.

    The final project (instead of an exam) is to build a functioning website for a club or sport. They go all the way from basic design wireframe to finished code. Entirely static site, but all handwritten. There are functional requirements, and I do run it through a validator and doing heavily for invalid html.

    What about stuff like Bootstrap? Just like using JQuery allows you to use Javascript without having to code to the browsers... Bootstrap allows you to theme without having to know the deep guts of CSS.

    You can definitely teach Javascript or CSS - because understanding the guts is important... but real shops will use tools like JQuery and Bootcamp so that you don't have to waste time on details that are irrelevant.



  • @Benjamin-Hall

    Web designer != Web developer..

    I am a primarily a web developer that is front end orientated and I can't design my way out of a wet paper bag.

    Web-designers - none, they need to understand UX / UI on the device, which requires no knowledge of the underlying technology as long as you understand the interfaces on each platform.

    Developers - Front end developers need to know HTML/JS/CSS and the patterns therefore.

    JS wise you need to understand the difference between browser APIs and Browser features.
    CSS wise you need to understand when to use and abuse prefixes and different CSS whether they are spec valid or not.

    Also learn Vanilla JS.

    Browser vs Desktop problems.

    Also I would expect someone to know how to write fast DOM queries.


  • BINNED

    @lucas1 said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    they need to understand UX / UI on the device, which requires no knowledge of the underlying technology

    It's certainly useful to have some idea, so you're aware of what's an easy change Vs a rewrite of the platform


  • BINNED

    @lucas1 said in How much HTML/CSS knowledge do web designers/developers need?:

    CSS wise you need to understand when to use and abuse prefixesIDs


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election Banned

    @Benjamin-Hall I'm currently working on a minor overhaul of one of the two websites I've inherited as part of my job, and most of it relies primarily on HTML 5 and CSS 3, but I would be lost in some aspects of it without some grasp of Javascript. I've also been working on a complete 100% overhaul of the other website for some months now and, while I haven't used JS much, I have had to use it for two things (the arrow buttons on the carousels and the magnifying glasses on the images), so you might want to add some basic JS to the curriculum. That being said, 99% of my work is static, hand-typed HTML and CSS. I'm doing basically everything in Notepad++. And guess what? That site I'm building from the ground up looks just like a website generated by a monstrous amalgam of JS frameworks, with thousands less lines of javascript and a fraction of the load time. I don't doubt that JS frameworks are useful, particularly for actual full stack web development, but most of the shit I've seen people use JS for in my capacity as a web designer/developer can be done with CSS, and the rest probably doesn't need MBs of JS files with functions like fade-color-on-mouseover or expand-dropdown-section-on-click.

    Disclaimer: I have yet to need to do full stack development or deal with a website using a full stack, just mostly-static sites. I have, however, seen JS frameworks used for said mostly-static sites, so I think it would be quite valuable for web devs to learn about HTML and CSS, if only so they know when they don't need a JS framework.



  • @Jaloopa You want a fight ;-)



  • @Jaloopa It ultimately a question of depends. I would like them to for sure. But it isn't necessary IMHO.


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