man with sticky note that says codeDevin Jackson

6 minute read

HTML vs. CSS vs. Javascript: What’s the Difference?

Published 2019-12-09T06:00:00 by Devin Jackson

When you’re designing or developing a website, there are three different coding languages that you will want to be aware of: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

HTML: Content & Layout

HTML is a language that determines how documents and web pages are displayed in a web browser, the language for the building blocks of any website.

CSS: Styling and “Look & Feel”

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a popular style sheet language that determines how a document created in HTML is styled (colors, font styles, layout and responsive features).

JavaScript: Interactive Elements

JavaScript allows you to change CSS and HTML elements on your website after the site has been loaded, which gives you the ability to make your site more interactive and engaging for users with animations, embedded video media, and more.

These three programming languages are typically the foundation of any website, which is why it’s important that you’re aware of how these languages will affect your website and what they are typically used for.

html css javascript infographic

What Can You Do With Each Programming Language?

  • With HTML, you will be able to create the structure of your website.
  • CSS gives you the ability to make the website look more visually appealing.
  • As for JavaScript, this is a robust programming language that allows you to effectively change the HTML and CSS components of your website to match your specifications precisely.

If you own a website but don’t know much about coding, knowing the difference between these three programming languages should help you better understand what goes into developing a website. If ever a problem occurs with a component of your site, having a clear idea of what these programming languages are may be enough to help you properly diagnose what is causing the problem and how to fix it.

The following article provides an in-depth comparison of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript programming languages.

Web Development & Coding Languages

laptop with code on screen

Websites can be developed with the use of a wide range of different coding and programming languages, some of which are more complex than others. Some of the most common web development languages include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and SQL. While Ruby and PHP are exceedingly popular among entrepreneurs, startups, and web developers, the primary languages of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript should be enough for you to understand the basics of web design and development.

Each of these web development languages has a different purpose. For instance, Ruby is a scalable and fast programming language that can help you build an extensive website or program in just a short period of time. When paired with the Ruby on Rails framework, this language gives developers practically everything they need to build a website. With a language like SQL, developers can maintain and optimize large databases in a much more streamlined manner.

Different types of projects incorporate different languages of code. Many professional web developers also have their own preferences that they will use even if other programming languages have proven to be more popular. Various platforms are built on different languages. For instance, WordPress is built mainly with powerful PHP code even though HTML and CSS are used as well.

The main language that you use all depends on your specific project and the business goals that you have. By identifying what these goals are, you should have a better idea of which languages are ideal when you are developing a website or application.

What is HTML?

HTML is a programming language that stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This is a relatively simplistic yet powerful programming language that allows web developers and website owners to create the structure of their websites. If you want a sentence in a blog post to receive a bold font, HTML could be used to achieve this. When using this system, any text files can be tagged for effects, graphics, fonts, or colors. If you’ve never used any kind of programming language in the past, HTML would be a great place to start. Keep in mind that HTML markups are enhanced by CSS and JavaScript, which is why it’s recommended that you learn this programming language first.

What Can You Do With HTML?

The main reason why it’s important to know HTML is because it allows you as a website owner to create the basic structure of you website, from which you can use any other coding language to enhance the design.

  • With a basic understanding of HTML, you can significantly increase the control and flexibility that you have with your website.
  • You’ll be able to make your own changes by having knowledge of this code.
  • Some platforms will automatically implement many of the more complex functions of a website design, which leaves you with the ability to tend to the minor changes that can be made with HTML.

What is CSS?

screen with code

CSS is a style sheet language that’s focused almost entirely on improving the presentation of HTML elements. While CSS is a static programming language, it can be used to make your website appear visually pleasing and modern. If you want your website to have a sleek and stylish design, CSS is the programming language to use. With a basic understanding of CSS, you can make changes to the overall look and feel of your website, which is useful when you want to match the appearance of your website with the aesthetics of your brand.

What Can You Do With CSS?

Even though CSS is primarily used to create static visual effects, the latest versions of the programming language offer some functionality for the creation of very simple animations.

  • If you want to change the color of some of the text on a web page, basic CSS would allow you to do so by adding “style” code to the HTML code that’s already found on your page.
  • Along with the presentation of HTML, CSS can also be used to alter the layout and formatting of your website.
  • Once you know the basics of CSS, you should be capable of improving the look of your website and all of the HTML that you have already added to the design.

What is JavaScript?

coding screen with mug

JavaScript is among the most important programming languages for website owners who want to make their site more interactive, which makes this the most complex of the three standard programming languages in this article. While HTML provides the structure for a website and CSS allows you to control the presentation of a site, the JavaScript programming language gives you the tools that you need to alter the behavior of different elements that are found on a website page. With this tool, you can add a layer of interactivity to the CSS and HTML elements on your website, which is highly recommended if you want your website to appeal to the modern customer.

Most modern websites come with a menu button that can be clicked to display a selection of areas on the website that you can navigate to. The menu button usually reveals a small menu on the side of the page, which adds interactivity to the page itself. All of this is powered by JavaScript and can make your website appear to be more modern and sophisticated.

With a basic understanding of JavaScript, you can manipulate the various interactive features of your website to perform a wide range of actions. If you want to have complete control over the design and function of your website, you should know at least some of the coding involved with JavaScript.

What Can You Do With JavaScript?

The types of things that you can do with JavaScript are practically limitless. This programming language can provide you with the tools needed to:

  • Create a calculator for your website
  • Create various keyboard shortcuts that allow users to effortlessly navigate to other pages
  • Play animations when users scroll down the page

Since you can change your HTML and CSS elements with JavaScript, this can be a very beneficial language to learn.

Best Resources to Learn Web Development Languages

css javascript html with phone

If you’re looking to improve your knowledge and understanding of the many common web development languages, there are many fantastic resources that will allow you to enhance your skills in this area. No matter which programming language you want to learn, there are free resources all over the internet that will provide you with what you need to understand the basics of the language in question. If you want to focus primarily on improving the front-end elements of your website, the most important languages to learn include HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, and JavaScript. As for the backend, you should consider learning languages like Python, Ruby, and PHP.

Learn for Free Online with Codecademy

The best resources available to you include free online courses that will teach you the basics of the language in an organized and structured manner. If you want to learn how to effectively use HTML for your website, check out this course at Codecademy. By the end of the 9-hour course, you should be able to use HTML on your website without running into many issues. The same website also offers free tutorials for CSS and JavaScript, both of which have proven to be very popular and highly effective. While the HTML and CSS courses have five and six lessons respectively for you to take, the JavaScript course is even more robust and includes 14 lessons with 30 hours of coursework.

Start Learning to code with Codeacademy

Conclusion: HTML vs. CSS vs. JavaScript

While it’s possible to develop and maintain a website for your business without having any knowledge of coding via a strong content management system, having a basic knowledge of the more common programming languages will allow you to edit your current website or start building a new one without assistance. Overall, you have more control over how your website looks, feels, and performs when you have some knowledge of these programming languages.

Devin Jackson

Devin Jackson

Bryt Designs

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