Thinking about modern Web design in terms of Web design languages is rather paradoxical nowadays:
Although code, be it HTML, CSS or anything else, still lies underneath every website, fewer and fewer people now have to learn it to get a website started.
The reason for this is the growing popularity of CMS (Content Management Systems) such as WordPress and Joomla. These make it easy for anyone with basic computer and Web knowledge to put together an attractive site. Yes, there’s still code underneath, but the people building the sites are largely “protected” from it.
Even so, it does no harm to understand what’s going on behind the scenes. Even with WordPress and Joomla, there’s still sometimes a need to delve into the code to tweak something or to make a fundamental change to a purchased theme.
Web Design Technology: A Primer
The primary underlying technology used to build Web pages is HTML (HyperText Markup Language). Styling of modern pages is usually done using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).The latest versions are HTML5 and CSS3 respectively.
Web Programming Technologies
The three technologies discussed above still only make static sites. Without server-side Web programming and scripting languages, you cannot build an interactive site with a database that stores data separately from the site design. Commonly used programming languages include:
The scripting languages all work in conjunction with a database, which they manipulate in the storage and retrieval of data. Commonly used Web databases include:
Microsoft SQL Server – Microsoft’s Structured Query Language, a database management system (DBMS)
MySQL – An open-source, SQL-based alternative DBMS – arguably the most widely used database platform on the Web
Oracle – A powerful enterprise DBMS
As MySQL is open source (unlike Microsoft’s equivalent) it’s more popular online – essentially as it costs nothing. Facebook is powered by MySQL, in case you were in any doubt as to its capabilities!
Back to the CMS
As we discussed in the introduction, the trend nowadays is to develop websites using CMS software. Some companies use their own custom CMS solutions, but almost everybody else is using WordPress, Joomla or Drupal for their Web projects. All three are PHP-based, powerful open-source solutions for building websites of any kind.
The core power of these CMSs is extended by components/plugins that add specific functionality to websites. For example, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin for integrating a fully-featured eCommerce store. (Click the links for detailed tutorials).
When it comes to Web page design, there are thousands of beautiful themes/templates, both free and premium, on the market today. Many modern themes are also mobile-ready or “responsive” meaning that they can adapt to various screen sizes, including those on smartphones and tablets.
CMS platforms have made it possible for almost anyone to create their own professional website, even without knowledge of HTML, CSS and Web programming. But it’s always still there in the background. If you ever want to see the code, you just need to find the “view source” option on your Web browser!