When the Internet was in its fledgling stages, web designers had to know how to code. This meant spending tons of time learning on their own or in a classroom setting. Today, the world has changed quite a bit for web design professionals.
Now, robust software packages and apps make it possible for web designers at all levels to avoid learning even one line of code. They can simply rely on their design platforms to do the backend coding for them, or pass off their prototypes to web developers who can write unique code and build the site.
Nevertheless, some web designers feel that they’re missing out on a deeper understanding of their work without the ability to code. For them, we’ve put together a few basics about web design and coding.
To see a code in action right now, go to a website and hold down on the “CTRL” and “U” keys on your keyboard. The page that pops up will be the code for this document. There, you can see everything that’s behind the scenes, giving you an insider look into what search engine browsers come across when they visit this webpage.
Seem confusing? It can be, at first. But the more you know about the essence of coding, the less daunting it appears.
All code programs operate in the same basic way: They use snippets containing certain characters to create visual images. Often, they have to repeat snippets of the same type of code to obtain the final desired look and function of a website. No wonder so many coding experts talk about cutting and pasting lines of code! However, they can’t just rely on repetition to get the job done. They know how to manipulate code and create site elements from the ground up.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the basics of a coding language, such as Java, you can look for simple (and free!) online lessons. While the lessons won’t turn you into a coding genius overnight, they will help you get the feel of the language and how it works. If nothing else, you’ll be better educated in site development. You’ll also feel greater comfort when speaking with coding pros.
Common Coding Terms
In the world of coding, certain terms are commonly used:
- Programmatic thinking: This phrase is a concise way to think about programming and coding. Programmers have to systematically break down larger functions and objectives into smaller elements. The smallest of these elements can then be translated to code, and the site built from the ground up.
- Backend: This refers to anything that happens behind the scenes and away from the eyes and realizations of users. Backend features include elements such as servers, databases, etc., and they work to support the frontend — or what a website’s user directly interacts with.
- Block: Blocks are units of code that, when strung together, perform a certain function. These are often cut and pasted to make coding less cumbersome.
- Constants: Any elements of a code that stay the same, regardless of what changes around them.
- Variables: Unlike constants, variables have different values depending upon the chosen function.
Of course, there have been dictionaries written around coding terms and what they mean. These are just a handful of the terms and phrases you’re going to come across. However, they will help you get a handle on how to start to think about website coding.
Coding: Need to Know or Nice to Know?
As a web designer, you are the one to decide if coding is something you need to know or just want to know for your own education. Some web designers are comfortable coding, and they like the hands-on approach. Others would prefer to stick with the creative design and leave the coding to others.
There’s no right or wrong choice, but it’s wise to at least have a bit of coding know-how. If nothing else, it will allow you to feel more comfortable when discussing site objectives and goals with developers.