Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Bloggers are constantly challenged to understand what good design is. Whether it is wedding stationery, interior fabrics, table settings, or floorboard materials, bloggers are often are very visually creative, and constantly seeking out better and better designs – from each other and themselves. Many have an expectation of what good design should look like, right down to their own blog. Not understanding how your blog’s back-end functions can leave you feeling powerless, in a space that should make you feel empowered.
Blogging platforms like Wordpress, Blogger, Squarespace, and Typepad have obviously made managing a blog incredibly simple, and there are certainly code-less options for managing a theme as well, like Thesis and Genesis Frameworks. But these often lack the unique quality of a theme that comes with something that is custom made, and many bloggers still opt to hire a custom designer. Here are five reasons why you should understand HTML and CSS.
#1. Change is coming
Grace Bonney spoke at Alt NYC about change, and how it is inevitable. It is important to understand that certain versions of HTML and CSS will be able to do more than others, and these languages will continue to evolve over time to have greater capabilities. This will equip you to ask the right questions of your web designer or developer as they create your new blog.
#2. Know thyself, know thy plugins
Plugins can be essential to your theme’s design, and knowing which ones do what, where, and how, could be the difference between getting 1800 spam comments per day, or none at all. When your blogging platform begs a plugin upgrade, don’t just blindly upgrade and expect it to work – read what is being updated with the latest version. It may contain important information as it pertains to your theme’s design, and spare you (and your web designer) a gigantic headache and long night of de-bugging.
#3. Working with Ad Networks and Sponsors
If you want to cozy up with Ad Networks and Sponsors, it’s time to get technical, and know the details of where to put those trusty “scripts” that Ad Networks hand you when you sign a contract. Most Ad Networks contain instructions on where in your blog to place the magical Ad code to make ads appear, but knowing that before you even sign with them takes the stress and burden off of installation away, and places the focus on maintaining those ads with organization and professionalism.
#4. It will save you money. Possibly a lot of money.
When you are starting out blogging for the first time, chances are the money’s tight, and it is hard to justify spending money on an hourly rate for a designer to help fix some basic changes you want to make to your blog. You may still choose to go with a professional designer or to spend money on a theme you found that suits you perfectly, but making basic changes gets a lot easier with a little bit of knowledge and background on the subject.
#5. Being creative
The best reason (and my favorite), is that there are no limits to what you can do with your own blog design with some time and investment into learning the ropes.