Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the code that is used to structure a web page and its content. If you’re looking to design your own website or to get a job in the field of web design, you may be wondering if it’s worth your time to master the language. After all, it can take a while to learn, and there are many simplified design platforms (such as WordPress) that allow you to do great work without it.

To learn or not to learn HTML is a popular debate, and we put it to the experts for help in crafting this article. Read on to learn what they had to say about the role of HTML in web design.

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

David Alexander

David is a digital marketer and ‘web guy’ with over a decade of experience under his belt helping SMEs & individuals to use technology not only to survive but to thrive in the new digital ecosystem. He also documents his experiments, failures and interesting tools at Mazepress. He’s a total nerd who started programming at the age of 13, but if truth be told, much prefers the arts. David has also been an advocate for cryptocurrencies, decentralization and blockchain technology.

Building blocks

If you are looking to become a web designer then it is imperative that you have a good understanding of HTML since the building blocks of any website rely on HTML. There are other useful languages like CSS (for styling) and PHP or .NET for functionality but none of these are much use without HTML.

Fortunately, HTML is by far the easiest web language to learn and would be the best place for anyone to start if they are interested in learning how to build websites and program. The internet is amassed with free resources, courses and tutorials on how to learn everything from basic to advanced HTML.

It’s true that you can likely build a website with WordPress or another CMS (content management system) without knowing much or any HTML, but then that limits your abilities and means you aren’t really a web designer but more of a CMS builder.

Drag & drop editors and templates

A web designer doesn’t need to know HTML for a few different reasons. Firstly, there are different programming languages, and a website doesn’t need to be written in HTML at all.

Secondly, a web designer often creates the design with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or similar. Then the web developer does the coding.

Lastly, there are so many design solutions such as drag and drop editors and customizable templates. Add AI, and web designers might be one of the jobs at risk of disappearing altogether.

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Jason Lavis

Managing Director
Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
Registration in England and Wales
Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Brett Helling

Helling is the head of Nebraska-based ridesharing company Ridester. The company is run by a serial entrepreneur and former Uber driver Brett Helling who has used SEO & Content Marketing to grow Ridester’s traffic from 253K visitors/month to 650K visitors/month.

Basic overlay

Having no knowledge about the HTML code is for sure a failure in this technologically advanced era.

It may seem confusing in the beginning, but it is easily understandable if you put yourself in the right shoes. Some statistics suggest that HTML was used in nearly every application in 2018. It is good to know a little about HTML.

For web design, HTML is used very often for the basic overlay of the website. There are many other coding abilities one can learn in this day and age, but HTML lays the foundation of any website.

Website building services

Absolutely not. Hasn’t been the case for almost a decade.

Services like Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, Shopify, Instapage, Clickfunnels and a few others eliminate the need for you to go anywhere near code.

That said, HTML isn’t the only barrier in designing purposeful websites, but these tools speed up the design process significantly, whether you’re doing it yourself or collaborating with an agency. More importantly – they allow for ongoing updates without needing to hire an entire IT department.

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Jack Butcher

Creative Director
Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Tragic O'Hara

Artist and Designer

It depends

In short I would say no but as always, it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

If you are building a website for a client, then a knowledge of HTML, PHP etc. is a must. You will know what is best suited to your clients’ needs, and the more tools you have at your disposal the better.

If you are building your own website for your portfolio, business or blog then I would say there is no need to learn HTML.

With WordPress, Blogger, Sqaurespace, Wix and the likes, the need to know HTML is minimal. These web building platforms aren’t foolproof, but you can pretty much guarantee if you are having a problem somewhere in the theme or design then someone else has hit the same problem. A quick Google search will rectify almost anything.

If for some reason you do find yourself needing to know some HTML code, W3 Schools will be your knight in shining armor. W3 Schools has loads of HTML code snippets you can just copy and paste into your theme and you’ll be good to go. They also have a live preview function which allows you to alter the code, add in your own images, etc., then hit the run button and see what it looks like. This is a very handy free tool for building images links with alt text.

Intelligent conversation

Yes, you do need to know a lot about HTML and CSS and JavaScript. You need know this because you need to be able to have an intelligent conversation with your development team about the software platform(s) that they are using to ensure that your designs are something that the development team can actually build.

BUT… Don’t let the developers know how much you know! If they know that you can produce production-level HTML, etc., they will try to get you to develop the front-end code. If you get bogged down developing HTML/CSS you will not be able to focus on providing the best overall user experience for the project.

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Bennett Lauber

Chief Experience Officer, The Usability People

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Tieece Gordon

Digital marketing executive with a keen interest in technical and onsite optimization

Desirable but not critical

This depends entirely on how you want to define “web design.” If we are talking about conceptualizing, visualizing and planning how a proposed site will look and interact, then, strictly speaking, HTML knowledge is desirable but not critical.

If “web design” is used as a broad term to encompass everything from idea to completion, HTML is an absolute must. HTML is essentially the bare bones of 99.99% of web pages on the internet. While tools such as website builders, pre-made themes and templates have brought the ability to create a website more in reach, to really push home the aspects and features of a site as desired, you’ll likely need to know at least a bit of HTML, as well as CSS and JavaScript.

Almost anybody can now create a site with no previous experience in HTML, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform as intended without the relevant code and markup effectively in place – something that may not be possible without knowing exactly what you’re doing.


While HTML is good to know to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible, there are plenty of options for people who don’t know HTML.

WordPress is perhaps the most popular choice. There are thousands of pre-built templates you can choose from. However, sometimes some coding knowledge is necessary if you want to customize the templates so they match your branding, which is important for businesses who want to maintain cohesiveness across their marketing.

Our advice would be, if you’re a business looking to design a website, seek out a company with UI/UX experts who can help customize the site and perfect its usability.

Keri Lindenmuth

Keri Lindenmuth

Keri Lindenmuth is the marketing manager at KDG. For over 17 years, KDG has been helping businesses improve their processes, their customer experience, and their growth.
Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Nate Masterson

I am the CMO of Maple Holistics, a company dedicated to cruelty-free, natural, and sustainable personal care products.


The internet is packed with countless sites pushing all kinds of content and products. Therefore, user experience has taken center stage while companies scatter to find ways to get users to their site and stay there.

However, designing a website isn’t as complex as it used to be. Although sites are faster and more attractive now than ever before, there are plenty of tools and software help you through every step of the process. Even more, you can use platforms like Shopify and WordPress which require absolutely no HTML knowledge in order to craft gorgeous and responsive web designs.


No, you do not need to know HTML to do web design. HTML is left to the coders or programmers for the backend of a site.

Web design is a front-end design. But for many web designers, they do know HTML. I’m a graphic designer and web designer, and I do not do HTML or coding.

Many recruiters and managers want you to know HTML so they can save money by not hiring another person. Most small marketing departments have an all-in-one designer that does HTML. For larger companies, these departments are separated by designers, coders, and programmers.

Do You Need To Know HTML To Design Websites?

Harris Brown

Harris Brown is the Founder of HFB Advertising, a company that provides custom advertising design services, graphic design, web design, marketing materials and digital marketing. Harris been doing advertising design for 20+ years for small business and high-profile companies.

Steven Walters

Digital Marketing Director

Design foundations

Yes, but there are some other foundational skills you should master first. Understanding page layout, responsive design, and mastering all the UX design foundations will help your work more than learning HTML will.

Once you have a solid design foundation, learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Drupal, WordPress, etc will help you better understand the capabilities and limitations of the environment you are designing for. Also, it will greatly help your relationship with the developers you are working with.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.