I am currently a CS student and an aspiring programmer/web developer. I am wondering whether it is worth taking the time to master html and css to make websites when CMS services/wysiwyg like wordpress and various others seem to be becoming more and more functional. Does anyone think these publishing services might eventually make the need to design websites from raw code unnecessary? If not, please explain why. If designing a website eventually becomes as simple as using Photoshop I would much rather invest my time in programming languages.

3 Answers 3


I think your question conflates design and development, though they're not even close to the same thing. Sites are rarely "designed from code"...they're designed in Photoshop by designers and translated into code by developers (of course, there are exceptions to this, but it's usually the case).

But I'll assume you're just saying, "since WordPress does a lot of the work for me upfront, do I really need to know how it works?"

Wordpress is a great framework to build on top of, but the system itself is made of "raw" css, php, html and JavaScript. If you don't understand all of these things (at least at a basic level), you'll never be able to develop your own themes and plugins, or even to customize existing ones. And in general, you won't be able to translate finished designs to functioning sites.

Because WordPress is so full-featured right out of the box (and because awesome support communities like this exist!), a lot of non-professionals get by as "copy-and-pasters"; never really understanding the code, but able to hack their way through issues as they pop up. This is fine if you're running a single, personal website. But if you plan to develop WordPress sites for other people (ie. professionally), you cannot get by without a solid understanding of php, html, css and JavaScript.

In fact, there's even MORE stuff you need to know. SQL, XML, JSON, AJAX, http protocol basics, apache configuration, SEO techniques, basic *nix commands, domain configuration...the list gets longer every day, not shorter.

So in short--yes, you need to have at least a basic understanding of how all of that stuff works if you plan to make websites for a living. No WYSIWYG or RAD tool will (in the foreseeable future, anyway) come along to replace the expertise of professional web designers and developers.


Absolutely not. While Wordpress and other CMSs allow for some powerful websites you still need to know the code behind it to really unleash their true power. For example, you could never make a theme for Wordpress without knowing HTML and CSS. It always helps to have an understanding of the architecture your platform runs off of as well, in WPs case PHP/MYSQL. I personally always end up making various modifications to the base code of my WP installs and make my own themes for it. So no, I don't think they will ever go away.


Simply put - site that runs on WordPress has just as much CSS and HTML as any other site.

If anything you need better CSS and HTML skills to produce design for CMS, because resulting markup will be dynamic and would be mixed with lots of third party code as well.

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