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hand coding

Hand Coding HTML – a case for

Do people still do hand coding?

People do hand coding, but mostly either on large projects or in boutique design houses. Tools such as WordPress, RVSitebuilder and many other content management systems (CMS)  frameworks may be great for getting a site up quickly, but 90% of the sites end up looking like clones.

What are the downsides of CMS?

  • They generate terrible code. If you look at the code generated by most CMS tools it’s a mess. CMS code is much longer and far less readable. Each time you change or edit formatting, the code gets worse. Switching from a CMS generated page to hand coding is very hard because of this. It is better to start over with hand coding.
  • CMS tools are limited. For a single page or simple website, a CMS tool might work fine. Once you start doing complex layouts with dynamic content, you’re going to have a bad time. And eventually, you’ll hit a wall that you cannot move beyond without hand coding.
  • Learning to create a website on CMS does not make you a web developer. At most, you will have learnt the CMS system and most of these reduce us to mere point-and-click or copy-and-paste artists.

What are the upsides to hand coding?

  • Readable code. The HTML or PHP code generated by hand coding is in a proper layout, readable and optimized. There is usually a lot less code as well.
  • Better SEO rank. Hand coded websites have a proper HTML structure with no meaningless code and thus search engines can easily see what the page is about and that results in a better search engine rank.
  • Control over the code. CMS builders often do not allow you to modify the core code, but if you hand code, you have total control.
  • Fewer Dependencies. CMS systems are dependent on many back-end programs and software to run properly. Many of these systems are provided by the Hosting Provider and if something fails or is not up to date, you have a problem. Hand coded sites have much fewer dependencies.
  • Custom code gives custom results. Hand coded sites, if well done, are unique and unlike most CMS generated sites. Good use of CSS and Javascript even allows you to develop and use your own templates. Tools such as EMMET make the task far quicker as well.
  • Sites load faster. Hand coded sites load faster as they are usually not bloated with auto-generated code and most hand coders will optimize both code and content (images, etc) to be as small as possible. This can make hand-coded sites load up to ten times faster than CMS sites. Conversely, badly hand-coded sites may load far slower than a CMS generated website.

It’s another skill for you

Proper HTML, PHP, JavaScript skills are not that common anymore. At the very least, learning to hand code will give you some insight into what is going on in the back end of a website. It will help you troubleshoot that much better.

On some CMS systems, you can even tweak the code, so you can combine your coding skillset with a good CMS.

Happy Hosting!

The Author

Michael O.

Michael is the founder, managing director, and CEO of HOSTAFRICA. He studied at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and was inspired by Cape Town's beauty to bring his German expertise to Africa. Before HOSTAFRICA, Michael was the Managing Director of Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange AG, one of Germany's largest virtual server providers.

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