Dear Fellow Marketers: Yep, You Do Need to Know HTML & CSS!
Embarking on a career as a digital marketer is, in part, a commitment to self-education. This industry moves quick, and woe betide anyone who doesn’t keep up with the latest from Google, Moz, Facebook, and any number of industry players who shape the way we work.
Looking back over my career in the sector, I can pretty easily point out both successful and unsuccessful attempts to learn new things. Begging my way into an internship with a PR veteran? Awesome. Signing up for three Coursera courses, then completely failing to finish them? Not so much.
Taking the plunge and going through a TTS Web Development program?
Completely necessary, in fact. I can’t claim that I graduated the course as an HTML/CSS maestro, but even the shaky first steps I’ve taken toward that goal have made a huge impact on the way I work as a marketer. While I’ve always believed that these skills would come in handy, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that they’re a must-have for anyone who wants to rise above a certain level in this field.
Why is that? Well…
EFFICIENCY AND SPEED
As digital marketers, the web is the world we live in. It’s how we connect. It’s where our campaigns soar to victory or stumble their way towards cancellation. Now, if the web is our world, HTML/CSS is our language. Those that don’t speak it need a translator - either a web developer or a CMS - and that’s a recipe for trouble.
Both translators come with drawbacks. Devs might be able to make changes at speed, but their time is expensive and marketing tasks are rarely a priority. I’m lucky to work in an office full of incredibly talented developers, but pulling them off more important tasks to make minor fixes (like inserting a logo into a landing page) distracts them and throws a wrench into my own plans while I wait for them to become available.
Using a CMS removes the developer roadblock, but introduces others. Anyone who’s worked with a Wordpress site knows that - as powerful and diverse as plugins and themes are - there’s a point at which they simply won’t do exactly what you want them to… unless you can start digging into the language behind each page.
In either case, understanding even a tiny amount of HTML/CSS is crucial. For my own work at LookFar(we’re a New Orleans startup studio, if you’re curious), my knowledge gained at TTS has allowed me to make minor fixes that would have otherwise sat in limbo for hours waiting on a busy developer. I have also been able to tweak our CMS (Hubspot) into far better shape than would have been possible if I were stuck using pre-made themes. The result: A much more capable, independent marketing operation, and one that should become more so as I continue to learn.
GROWING AND FUTURE-PROOFING
As great as the benefits listed in the above two sections are, I actually had something completely different in mind when I signed up for a TTS course. My original intention was (and still is) to get the educations I needed to progress as a Search Engine Optimization expert. Despite the gains made by various marketing SaaS companies - understanding the fundamentals of building and running websites still remains a highly technical endeavor after a certain point. My rude awakening to this happened while looking through a checklist posted on Moz that outlined the necessities for someone to work in SEO. Take a look.
Yeah, and that’s just for a junior position.
In short, it was obvious that I needed a level of technical skill magnitudes beyond what my experience as a marketer and (sigh) English Literature degree had provided. By working with TTS, then applying that knowledge, I’ve picked up the chops to at least start clearing roughly half the items on that list. Given that I was only able to address two of them (optimistic estimation) before my TTS course, I’m feeling pretty happy about my progress.
And this isn’t just the case for SEO. Let’s say you want to develop your role toward that of a Growth Hacker (an actual one, not just someone who likes the buzzword) - you’ll need web dev chops and more. Want to eventually manage your own digital marketing team? You’d better at least understand how to identify, hire, and effectively utilize developers. Want to hop aboard a hot startup? Welp, there’s no room for personnel bloat in the early days, so you can bet they’ll be looking for someone who can tweet, build a landing page, and implement site analytics.
In short, our professions are becoming ever more intertwined with the technical aspects of the internet. If you want to remain in it and progress beyond where you’re at, it’s time to build your skillset to match.
Shout-out to our Alumni, Alec Cole, for sharing his experience and be sure to check out Lookfar’s blog for the latest happenings in the New Orleans startup scene!“
Are you a marketer interested in learning HTML/CSS? Check out these courses!