Some say, knowing coding is a necessity to create a great site. There are so many functioning and beautiful websites out there that disprove this, and more online every day. BUT for the WordPress Aficionado you really need to have an idea of what three main codes do; if nothing else, it makes it easier understand what your web developer is talking about.
HTML is the code that started it all; the first use was in 1990. It is the code that tells the browser what to show to the viewer, where to place each picture and text, etc., and how. And yes, every one of the browsers have little idiosyncrasies that will make a page look different if not coded right. Even then, every version of every browser is hard to code for. Then let us remember web surfers can view our sites on screens the size of playing cards to 50-inch (plus) TV screens! The folks who govern this code, W3C, are constantly monitoring it and making sure it works well with all the other codes out there. The latest version is HTML5. The best free place to learn this code is W3Schools.
CSS or Cascading Style Sheet code is what designs your site. It designates which type font used in which element, which color the font is in, the size, the color of the background, if paragraphs are indented or not… all the pretty stuff. All sorts of platforms use this code. It is a quick way to allow pages to be created on the spot (like when someone searches your site and it shows all the associated info including your latest blog on the subject they quieried), making such sites “dynamic” in that they only have a few static pages while others are created as needed.
PHP is the math of the website. All sorts of formulas and code words tell the site what to do. If someone searches, a php code is run to carry out the query. It can state where to find the info, how to put it in what order, etc. This is the platform WordPress is built on.
Each has their use and each can be learned at the W3Schools site. Other places that have video tutorials that may speed up the education process are: Lynda.com, YouTube, and PHP School.
When one of my clients’ site was hacked; all you saw was a white screen with the hacker’s name. As usual, not only did the hacker shut down the site but sidebars were erased and had to be re built! I was in the process of documenting the site, since it was to be merged with a new WordPress site… so the rebuild was quick and easy. All of this required coding and basic understanding of how WordPress works.
For DIYers these need to be understood, if not mastered before your site gets hacked or stops functioning. Mastering these languages is not essential to a great site, but their basics are necessary to make changes to most WordPress sites. And for a few of us, it is just plain fun.
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