Do web designers need to know how to code in 2022?
Great question! Whether you’re itching to dive into custom code or the thought of CSS makes your heart drop, you’ve got options.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Do Web Designers Need to Know How to Code?
Are you a new web designer or maybe somebody who wants to start freelancing as a web designer, or maybe even start your own web design business. But you’re wondering, do I need to code if I want to be a successful web designer?
That’s the question I’m going to answer in this video.
I’m Galen from Local Creative Co. And I am a web designer as well as an online educator. And I’m here today to share all of my wisdom from eight or nine years in business as a web designer, At this point in time, I have started from no clients and worked my way up to making a full-time income as a web designer.
So many things have changed over the years. And so I wanted to share my thoughts with you as to what you do and don’t need to know as a new web designer in the industry.
Okay. So do you need to know how to code as a new web designer? And the answer is, or at least my answer is. It depends.
I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but I am going to break down my thought process in this video. So you can decide if learning to code is going to be right for you and your business.
When I first got started, I was using a platform called WordPress, specifically the Genesis framework, which still exists today. And it is a wonderful platform to build a website on because it’s so flexible.
But with that flexibility came a lot of challenges. Because you really had to know how to dig into the code to make your website display exactly how you wanted it to.
At this point in my life, I was graduating college into my first year after graduation and I had a lot of free time. And so I spend a lot of that time finding out how to make all of these changes. Googling, how to tutorials about CSS, about PHP and HTML. I was really trying to figure it all out for myself from scratch.
And while I really enjoyed this time in my life, I actually feel like I learned more in that six month period than I have in any other six month period of my entire life. It was a lot, I was very dedicated to learning this and I was constantly designing, coming up with different ways to create things and honing my craft and getting better at the coding aspect of a design.
The thing is learning this way isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. Because at the time I had a full-time job that could support me financially while I was learning this on the side. But if you have a family or you need to worry about getting clients fast spending months and months, learning to code isn’t necessarily the best use of your time.
If you aren’t ready to dive into HTML and CSS headfirst, it can still be really helpful to understand the basics because even with a platform like Squarespace, which is technically a drag and drop platform, you’re going to want to make some additional customization. As you become a better designer, those additional customization can really help your site stand out from the crowd.
And if you find online resources that have some great code snippets, you can copy. And pace, then add them to your site and understand just enough to tweak them to fit your needs.
There are so many wonderful resources for Squarespace code snippets. I’m going to paste a few of those links into the description below, so you can check them out. Some are free, some are paid, but either way, there’s some pretty amazing things you can do with your Squarespace website with just a little bit of code.
The other option is to use a Squarespace design tool like SquareKicker which is an extension for Squarespace 7.1. And it adds so much design functionality to your website without having to know a single line of code.
I recently created a video overview and tutorial about how square kicker works. I will link that in the description. If you want to go check it out.
ShowIt is another design platform that I use that is completely drag and drop. And I find my use far less code with ShowIt than I do with something like Squarespace or WordPress.
the Nice thing about ShowIt is that you can create really elaborate designs just by dragging and dropping elements around the page. You’re not limited by any sort of grid system. So the canvas is yours to do what you want with.
The downside to ShowIt is that there’s a little bit more work involved because you have to manually build out the mobile version of your site. Whereas in Squarespace, that’s done for you. You also have to manually align different elements on the page and create your navigation from scratch.
I still find myself using a little bit of CSS with ShowIt because I like to customize how my blog shows up specifically the headers. I find myself wanting to override the default heading styles to make sure that my headings all look good when they’re in the blog format.
This type of CSS, customization, usually only amounts to a few lines of code and something you could really easily copy from an online tutorial. And actually, if that’s something that you would want to learn, how to do, let me know in the comments below, because maybe that will be the next video that I create for you.
At the end of the day, what really matters most, in my opinion, is that you choose a platform that you’re comfortable with. So that way, when a client asks you to design something specific for them, you are confident enough to say, of course I can make those changes, or yes, I can design it to look like that for you.
While learning the basics of HTML, and CSS is a great way to make sure you don’t get stuck in that sticky situation. There are a lot of other tools and resources that I mentioned earlier that can help you achieve the same result.
If you’re just getting started as a new designer, I would so much rather see you focus on the fundamentals of what makes a good design, what is user experience and how does it impact how a website performs or even focusing on something like SEO search engine optimization because that is something that’s going to help your ideal clients get results when they work with you. .
Understanding the strategy behind web design is going to make sure your clients leave you glowing testimonials and keep coming back for more.
Okay. So now you tell me if you’re a web designer or you’re planning on becoming one. Are you making HTML and CSS a priority in your business? And if not, what are you prioritizing instead?
Thanks so much for watching, make sure to subscribe. So you don’t miss any videos we put out in the future and I will see you in the next one.
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Do Web Designers Need to Know How to Code?
The short answer: It depends!
When I started my web design business nine years ago, there weren’t many options for no-code web design platforms. But now, there are tons of drag-and-drop platforms that allow designers and DIYers alike to create stunning, functional websites without learning any code.
That being said, learning code doesn’t hurt! Even if you just learn a bit of CSS, it can open doors for more customization, meaning you can better serve your clients and create truly one-of-a-kind designs. Plus, there are plenty of resources that allow you to copy/paste pre-made code snippets into your site designs if you don’t want to write code from scratch.
Here are the two website platforms that I recommend that work with or without custom code…
- Squarespace. If you’ve been around for a bit, you already know I love Squarespace. It’s my favorite platform for beginner web designers and DIYers. With Squarespace, you can create beautiful, unique websites without any custom code. (Plus, if you ever decide to try your hand at CSS, Squarespace makes it super simple and approachable!)
- Showit. If you want to have a WordPress blog instead of Squarespace, Showit is the way to go. It’s one of the most popular drag-and-drop WordPress builder for creatives, and it allows for so much customization. That being said, it does require more work that Squarespace because you have to design the mobile and desktop versions of the site separately.
I wrote another blog post recently about Showit vs. Squarespace and which one is going to be the best fit for you.
If you want to learn how to code…
… you’re in luck! There are tons of resources online you can use to teach yourself to code. Whether you want to invest time and money in your education or you’re learning on the side while working a full-time job, you can find resources that work for you. Here are a few of my favorites:
- W3Schools. They have TONS of free tutorials and lets you try out different code right on the screen. Whenever I have a question about a specific CSS property, they are always my go-to resource.
- YouTube. If you’ve got a question, YouTube has the answer! Search for coding tutorials specific to the website platform you plan on using.
- Codecademy. This is one of the most popular online resources for learning how to code. If you want to deep dive into code, check it out. Best part: It’s free!
- Udemy. This site hosts thousands of affordable online courses on a ton of different topics. Be sure to read the course reviews to make sure the one you choose covers everything you want to know.
- Local resources. Plenty of community colleges and local libraries offer free or affordable workshops and classes. Check your area, and sign up for a beginner’s course
If you’re just getting started & want to customize your site…
Checkout these resources:
- Inside The Square. Becca has weekly Squarespace code tutorials for free on her YouTube channel and blog. She breaks things down to make it really easy for beginners to understand.
- SquareStylist. Rache has a ton of Squarespace tutorials & workshops that allow you to customize your site to make it feel unique.
- Ghost Plugins. This full-featured plugin library for Squarespace has lots of options for customizing your site.
- SquareKicker. This is an extension for Squarespace 7.1 that allows you to customize your site without any code. It opens up so many possibilities for custom layouts, animations, and more. (If you want to learn more about using SquareKicker, check out this blog post.)
What Should You Focus On As a New Web Designer?
The decision to learn code as a new web designer might feel big, but it’s not the most important thing. I’d much rather see new web designers focus on learning what makes a website functional and effective. And remember: Even if you don’t learn code right away, it’s always something you can explore later on .
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