Monday, February 12, 2007

Should You Bother Learning HTML to Build Webpages?

The most popular method to build webpages today is to use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) software. Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver are prime examples of WYSIWYG software. Both programs allow you to create webpages as though you were creating a document with your favourite word processing software like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. Its as simple as entering paragraphs, headings and inserting clipart or images.
WYSIWYG software like those listed above are prefect for beginner webpage builders who want webpages constructed quickly without having to learn HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language).
All webpages are brought to life using HTML codes, regardless what webpage building software is used. WYSIWYG programs simply create the HTML codes as you construct a webpage (in the background, without you knowing), so you don't need to understand them.
This is without a doubt the biggest advantage over any other type of webpage building programs. It means that if you can press keys on a keyboard, you have what is required to create your very own webpage!
However, most WYSIWYG programs don't give you absolute, total control over webpage design (ie, exactly the way you want the page to look). There are design limitations.
For example, you may want to place headings, sub headings and a navigation menu in a particular arrangement on the webpage, but no matter how many times you try, the program won't permit such placement or position them correctly. This is one big disadvantage of WYSIWYG programs if you desire a custom look to all your webpages.
Knowledge of HTML, however, can assist you to overcome such design shortfalls in WYSIWYG programs. How is this possible? Let me explain.
If you understand HTML codes, then you understand why webpages appear the way they do in a web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. This is powerful stuff because the moment you change/modify HTML codes, the webpage will take on a new design/appearance.
And don't forget that HTML codes are exact, giving you total freedom over how everything appears on the webpage. Most WYSIWYG programs allow you to view and modify the HTML codes. As you can see, knowledge of HTML is beneficial.
The downside to HTML is the learning curve. It takes time to understand how HTML works and why, but once you know, using HTML to create totally custom designed webpages is easy. For the beginner, HTML can be challenging, but don't despair because there are HTML tutorials available that teach you basic and advanced HTML in a matter of days!
So the question is - Should you bother learning HTML to build webpages? The answer - yes and no.
It is obvious that WYSIWYG software speeds up production of webpage development regardless of your knowledge on how to build webpages. However, to further refine and tune your webpages exactly to your liking, it is usually necessary to add and modify HTML codes. So yes, HTML is worthwhile learning if you are unsatisfied with the webpages produced by WYSIWYG software.
There is little point learning HTML if you are 100% satisfied with the webpages made with WYSIWYG software.
One thing is certain. Using WYSIWYG software and learning HTML codes is the answer for those of us who want webpages made exactly to our requirements. Learning HTML is not as hard as you think. To get started, simply search any major search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN using the search phrase "html tutorials", its that easy!
Les Pinczi is the creator of interactive HTML learning software to help you learn how to build a web page in hours!

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