The last 4 weeks I’ve been contracting for a software company that is launching a new version of their website. What originally started out as a writing project quickly led to a bunch of web publishing, coding special pages, and creating widgets.

Did I mention I don’t really code?

Not in the typical “developer” sense. But one of the skills I am so, so thankful to have learned and kept tabs on is basic HTML and CSS coding.

If you don’t know that is, it’s just the basic code for how websites display stuff.

And it’s really, really handy.

What it’s allowed me to do over the years is start with a website template (like the one on this site) and customize the look & feel of it to be unique for what I want to do.

I don’t need anyone to help me make & customize my own websites. And if you start with a good template, you end up with a good-looking site.

There’s no way I’d be able to build it all myself from scratch, but with some basic HTML/CSS knowledge, I’m dangerous enough to be able to create and tweak portions to my liking.

This is great if you have lots of ideas for things to do on the web.

Why? Because hiring someone to build you a website is expensive.

If you’re lucky, $50/hour. Not lucky? $150/hour.

And who knows if the idea you have is any good.

But by knowing some basic coding skills, you can grab a free template and get going.

Hate the idea once you get it going? No problem. Pick a new one. Do another site.

Rinse. Repeat.

Having the ability to spin up your own websites is such a great skill.

The idea of learning to code seems immensely intimidating if you’re not technical – but it’s not.

There’s some fantastic resources that break it down step-by-step, are pretty fun to do, and actually trick you into doing it easily. You think you’re just following along until suddenly you realize you’ve coded your own website.

Here’s the book I learned on (now likely on it’s 5th or 6th edition): Head First HTML

With the way the world is going, being proficient in building websites will help you in any job you do – especially if you like the idea of starting your own thing.

You won’t regret the $30 and few hours you have to put in to get the basics – just be sure to find something to experiment on.

If you know how to code, how’d you learn? Love to hear from you!

photo credit: Apple keyboard via photopin (license)