Do you need to know HTML and CSS as an online business owner or blogger?

Woman in hijab using two computers to code. Text: Do you need to know HTML & CSS? + 5 Places to Learn for free

A well-designed and functional website is a must for any online business, whether you provide services, products, or information. Maybe you already have taken a look at the codes behind your website, only to be overwhelmed by the seemingly complicated formatting. Or, perhaps you’re just starting to set up your website or blog, and you don’t know which platform to chose as they all offer different levels of coding possibilities.

Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, I’m here to give you the answer to the question you might ask yourself; do I need to know HTML and CSS to run an online business or blog?

What is HTML?

HTML, Hypertext Markup Language, is the language used to structure websites and their pages. It structures pages between header, body, paragraphs, and footer. Another form of HTML is XHTML, Extensible Hypertext Markup Language, based on the XLM language. XHTML structures websites and pages in the same way as HTML but is a more strict language. If an HTML website has any mistakes in its code, web browsers will still attempt to show the website. XHTML based websites, on the other hand, will not be displayed in web browsers if there are any mistakes in the code.

To create an HTML file, you can open up your Notepad in Windows or TextEdit on Mac, type your code, and save the file as name.html. Finally, open the file in your chosen web browser to see how the code translated into a website structure.

Windows notepad example of a simple HTML code structure
Example of simple html code in web browser

Below you can see an example of the code structure of an HTML based website:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<h1>Heading one</h1>
<p>Paragraph one</p>


What is CSS?

CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, is the second component of a website and determines the website appearance. The appearance includes the layout, design, colours, and fonts. CSS is a separate file from the HTML, meaning changes and errors on one of the two does not interrupt the other. 

Below you can see an example of the structure of a CSS code for a website:

body {
  background-color: #00000;
h1 {
  color: #FFFFF;
  text-align: left;
p {
  font-family: New Courier;
  font-size: 12px;

Do you need to know HTML or CSS as an online business owner or blogger?

Well, it depends on your situation. In a perfect world, I would say no, you don’t need to know HTML and CSS for digital marketing, but it is a clear advantage. If you are a business owner with the funds to hire a website designer or an SEO professional, you might find that coding is not something you need as you can have someone else do it for you. 

Even small business owners and bloggers can find several ways of setting up a website and handle their SEO without working with codes. Platforms like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Weebly, and Squarespace offer well-designed websites for those without coding experience or knowledge.

However, codes and programming languages are the foundation of the online world. You might not necessarily need coding knowledge to operate online, but there are only advantages in increasing your understanding of coding languages. An example is Search Engine Optimisation, where several best practices revolve around different HTML tags. In addition, if anything goes wrong with your website, you might be able to fix it yourself rather than waiting for customer support, which sometimes can take hours, if not days, to resolve.

Personally, learning HTML and CSS has benefited me in additional areas as well. When I started working with other programming languages and statistical programs like Excel and STATA, I found that my existing knowledge in HTML and CSS gave me an easier time understanding how they function.

5 places to learn HTML and CSS for free

With more than three in four UK businesses reporting a shortage of digital skills, learning HTML and CSS is a great stepping stone for any digital marketer before moving over to other programming languages! I’ve collected some of the places I learned HTML and CSS below.

  1. W3 Schools: This is by far my favourite place to learn HTML and CSS. They offer free tutorials, exercises, quizzes, and paid courses. They also provide materials for JavaScript, Programming languages, SQL, PHP, XML, Artificial Intelligence and several other languages and skills. I have been using this website for close to ten years now and, I am sure it will stay with me for many years to come. 
Screenshot of W3 Schools homepage and the tutorials they offer
  1. Tumblr: This might come as a surprise, but is the perfect place to learn HTML and CSS as they offer customisation for free on their platform. In my teen years, I spent countless hours customising my codes to make the perfect Tumblr website while picking up new skills. Even if you’re not using the platform for your business, it’s a great place to play around with HTML and CSS. 
Screenshot of Tumblr HTML edit options
  1. Free Code Camp: A non-profit that provides courses in several programming languages including, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and so on. Each class takes around 300 hours of self-phased learning time but offers a free certificate upon completion. 
Screenshot of Free Code Camp programming language course selection
  1. Harvard free online courses: Since Harvard announced they would provide free online classes, I’ve been looking into them regularly. They’ve got an exciting selection of courses and, programming languages are some of the topics they provide. Upon completion, you will have to pay $199 for a certificate, but it is not mandatory to purchase one to complete a course. 
Screenshot of Harvard university's selection of free online programming courses
  1. Future Learn: Future Learn has its own Google supported 3-week long web development course. This course includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 
Screenshot of Future Learn's Introduction to Web Development Course

There are plenty of other places to learn more about HTML and CSS, like LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare. But the listed websites are some of the places I learned to code before I chose Web Design as my specialisation in school.

HTML and CSS might look complicated, but once you take the time to understand that there is a simple logic driving them, it will become a fun new skill that will benefit you greatly!

Let me know if you found this post helpful and how far you’ve come in your HTML and CSS learning! Remember to pin this post and follow my website to get more insights on which skills are essential for the digital world and how to gain them!

Published by Elise Olsen

Media and research devotee turned marketing enthusiast! I strive to give small business owners and bloggers all the research-based content needed to optimise your online marketing and social media strategy for growth!

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