In today’s world, governed by the Internet, everybody wants to build a website, and the major question comes in: How? The research begins, most of the times on the same media you’re trying to break in, and you end up with more questions than answers. How should you handle this amount of information? The opinions of those that are already in are always different and you end up lost like in the beginning.
This might happen because the answer to the questions “should I learn HTML code or just use a WYSIWYG editor? What’s better for me?” depends most on your expectations, needs and intentions and not only on the characteristics of the tools available. While some people prefer to measure things using a square rule because they have more uses, others prefer the standard rule because it’s more portable. Each object has its advantages and disadvantages and you can’t say exactly which one of them is better. So, to clear the things out, let’s look at the differences between HTML and WYSIWYG editors.Time to learn
This is the biggest advantage of WYSIWYG editors because building a website with them is easier and more intuitive. Who ever wrote a letter in a text editor or drawn an image in a picture editor knows what this means. For those who have never used them, it’s like opening a website in your navigator and be able to click the text and start editing it, changing the size, the color, moving images, changing them, etc., all through clicks, tool bars and menus.
In the other hand, writing HTML tends to be more complicated, even when it’s an easy language. HTML is a markup language, and the reason why it’s easier than other languages is that the resulting web page is interpreted by a code (it has no cycles, no functions, no changing variables). Anyway, learning HTML may give you long term advantages once you’ve passed through the learning experience.Time to build
This is a diffuse point, given that many people think that the method they use is better and faster. The truth is that this time depends a lot on the expertise level of the designer but, even when the difference could be depreciable, it’s more probable that a web page could be finished faster with a WYSIWYG editor.Knowledge
Even when knowledge can be acquired anywhere (if you know how), in this case HTML offers more chances of expanding your mind and rise up your intellectual coefficient. It’s a good point if you’re trying to learn beyond of it. HTML coding will give you practice while, as it’s an easy language, will introduce you to the programming world (also a part of the web design and development).Portability
While HTML code can be written in any text editor, even the most basic one, you cannot build a website in a WYSIWYG editor if you don’t have the editor. This may become a portability problem for those who don’t know HTML because they will need to have the editor installed in the computer they want to use to build, modify or update a web page (no matter how big or little the update is).Code properness
When using a WYSIWYG editor, the web page is constructed by the user in a visual way that’s translated to HTML code by the editor engine. This means that the direct responsible of writing the HTML code is the editor, even when the directives are imparted by the designer. This many times makes that the web pages have incorrect, malformed or non-standard code, and very often additional (not wished) meta tag code.
When using HTML, the only person that decides which code goes and which code doesn’t, is the designer. You have the liberty and authority of choosing how the code will be written in your HTML document, if it will respect the standards, if it will be accessible, and many more.Reach
How far can you go building websites through WYSIWYG editors? Well, as far as the program lets you. Today’s WYSIWYG editors bring easy and advanced solutions to designers incorporating markup languages, server-side languages, client-side languages, plug-ins and more. This will help designers to build up web pages and fill them with effects, functionalities and interactivity. This is good, and is very good if you’re not intended to go to a higher level, given that the functions provided by the editor (or by other sources) will work great with your expectations.
In the other hand, HTML is just HTML, but if you’re visionary, you’ll see that HTML is the doorway to further learning which will have, as we mentioned before, a long term benefit. The best thing of knowing HTML, as any other language, is that you’re not limited to the number of functions that the editor has to offer. You can always create your own customizable functions and code, which will look and feel exactly as you wish them to do.Credibility
If you’re working for, or trying to catch a client, it’s not that same to say that you know and handle HTML that say that you only can use a WYSIWYG editor. Knowing HTML gives you an extra point: credibility.
A third option comes in if you decide to learn both of them. Most WYSIWYG editors have the option of parallel edition of the HTML code which opens a new possibility. Anyway, you can always modify the HTML files generated by the editor. This way you can get the benefits of both.
In conclusion, the best way to follow depends on your intentions. HTML, harder to learn but more customizable and independent, or WYSIWYG editors, easier but more editor-dependent. If your intention is to “just design a website” then you may find a WYSIWYG editor good enough, but if you’re looking serious to the web design then HTML is a must.
Diego Ponce de Le?n was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1999 he begins his studies in Computer science at the Buenos Aires University. Three years later, with a wider mind, he drops University to work as a freelancer web designer. He’s now dedicated to the web design and development and shares part of his knowledge in his website HTMLQuick.com.