Website development is chock full of codes, acronyms and jargon. But once you learn the basics, you’ll then better understand what makes up your website. The best place to start is by familiarising yourself with the two core technologies used for building web pages. These are your trusty HTML and CSS. While that may sound like gobbledegook for now – by the end of this blog, you’ll feel much more comfortable and confident in what they mean and do. So, what is HTML and CSS? HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) go hand-in-hand when it comes to web development. On web pages, HTML provides the structure and CSS provides the visual and aural layout. Think of it like a house: HTML is the building bricks, CSS is the furniture and paint that dresses the blank canvas.  Along with graphics and scripting, HTML and CSS are your two key players for creating websites and applications. Let’s take a deeper dive into what each of their functions are, plus their pros and cons.

What is HTML?

HTML is the language that’s used to describe the structure of individual web pages. For instance: ‘Home’ pages, ‘About’ pages and ‘Contact’ pages will all have separate HTML codes. It allows the user to create sections, paragraphs, headings, links, and blockquotes as a way of both designing and developing a particular web page.  Each HTML page consists of a set of tags (or elements), which can be referred to as the building blocks of web pages. They create a hierarchy that structures the content into sections, paragraphs, headings, and other content blocks.  While it may sound convoluted, HTML is actually quite easy to read and understand. For example, we can create a paragraph by placing the enclosed text within a starting and closing tag. Or, if we want something to appear in bold, we use opening and closing tags. HTML gives publishers the power to:
  • Publish online documents with headings, text, tables, lists, photos, etc.
  • Retrieve online information via hypertext links, at the click of a button.
  • Design forms for conducting transactions with remote services, for use in searching for information, making reservations, ordering products, etc.
  • Include spreadsheets, video clips, sound clips, and other applications.

Pros and Cons of HTML

Like most things, HTML comes with a handful of strengths and limitations. The pros of HTML are:
  • It is a widely used language with a lot of resources and a huge community behind it, meaning more readily available tips and tricks.
  • It runs natively in every web browser making it highly compatible.
  • It has a low difficulty level in terms of learning.
  • It is completely free.
  • It provides a clean and consistent markup.
  • The official web standards are maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
  • It is easily integrable with other backend languages such as PHP and Node.js.
Yet, the cons of HTML are:
  • It is mostly used for static web pages. For dynamic functionality, you may need to use JavaScript or a backend language such as PHP, making your coding endeavour more complex.
  • It does not allow the user to implement logic. As a result, all web pages need to be created separately, even if they use the same elements, e.g. headers and footers.
  • Some browsers adopt new features slowly, meaning that it doesn’t provide instant results.
  • Browser behavior is sometimes hard to predict (e.g. older browsers don’t always render newer tags).
computer screen with HTML code
HTML is code that describes the structure of a web page. Image credit: Udacity

What is CSS?

CSS is the language for describing the presentation of web pages. This includes colours, layout, and fonts. It also allows the user to adapt the presentation to different types of devices, such as large screens, small screens, or printers.  CSS is equally important as HTML, as it is used to stylise elements written in a markup language. Ultimately, it supports HTML to give your page a more personalised touch. The relation between HTML and CSS is strongly tied together. Since HTML is a markup language (the very foundation of a site) and CSS emphasises style (all of the aesthetics of a website), they go hand-in-hand together. CSS is not technically a necessity, but you probably wouldn’t want to look at a site that features only HTML as it would look unappealing and bare. However, where CSS differs is that it is independent of HTML, and can be used with any other XML-based markup language. The separation of HTML from CSS makes it easier to maintain sites, share style sheets across pages, and tailor pages to different environments. 

Pros and Cons of CSS

While CSS hosts a lot of benefits, it does equally offer some drawbacks. The pros of CSS are:
  • It saves time due to its easy implementation
  • It allows for spontaneous and consistent changes to be made
  • It improves page loading speed
  • It is compatible across a range of devices
  • It gives the user the ability to reposition elements
  • It enables for better search engine crawling
However, the cons of CSS are:
  • You can encounter cross-browser issues
  • Sometimes users can become confused due to its many levels
  • Vulnerable to disruption as it is an open, visible code
laptop with coding on screen
CSS is a language used to support HTML and stylise web pages. Image credit: Jantine Doornbos

HTML and CSS: Summary

HTML and CSS are two key languages that depend on one another to enable website success. While HTML relies heavily on CSS to boost a web page’s overall appearance, HTML provides the essential backbone of a website, with CSS being more versatile as it can be paired with other markup languages.  For a well-structured and well-presented site, you should consider HTML and CSS to further your web development and performance. For more information on web development services, contact ProfileTree today.

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