Why Everyone Should Learn HTML and CSS Right Now


We've got another major course release coming up! Chris Castig is taking our bestselling One Month: HTML course and launching it as a premium course to a private group of students this August 29, 2016.

We've reached over 4,000 students with this awesome course, and we know that it's been tried and tested for the ages. Now, for the first time ever, we're releasing it as a premium course. This means you get some of our best material, in addition to 1:1 teacher review of your assignments, a private Slack channel, a chance to ask any and all questions, and the opportunity to meet your peers in a private online classroom.

This is one of our longest-running courses to date, and Chris Castig is taking the time to teach it live, to you, for the first time ever as a premium course:

Learn to build your own website! 40% off →

Chris has taught at Columbia Business School, General Assembly, and the New York Stock Exchange, and he has developed websites for The Black Eyed Peas, Toyota, Amex, Derby Jackpot, and a few dozen more.

It's one of the most popular courses to get your start in building websites, blogs, and portfolio pages — so if you're interested in joining us August 29th, sign up here for the HTML course right away.

Today, I sat down with Castig to interview him about what it takes to build websites, how he learned HTML himself back in the day, and what some great resources are to accompany your own learning.   

Why should you learn HTML and CSS?

All websites are made with HTML. It’s the building blocks of learning other web development languages. If you want to build your own website, make a blog, or know how to edit and refine other websites (like a wordpress theme), take this course so you can build it yourself. 

What is HTML and why should you learn it?

Hyper-text blahhh blahhh blahhhh. The acronym isn’t important (although it stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, if you're curious).

The only thing you really need to know is that it’s THE language used for making ALL websites on the Internet. And if that’s all you know? Then it’s time to learn if for yourself so you can see it in action.

Why HTML? Why not learn a different programming language?

HTML is technically not a “programming language.” Does that surprise you? HTML is like the skeleton of your house (the foundation, the color, where the doors are), and the programming languages (Ruby, Python, etc) make the rules of “who can go in the house?”, and “when the lights go on.” That’s the basic metaphor. So long story short, you need both HTML and a programming language for every website you build. This is why it's such a natural first stop for most people when learning programming.  

What are the different language options out there? Why is HTML a good place to start?

There are tons of popular languages. Ruby, Python, PHP, Java. All of them work with HTML. Before all of these programming languages is HTML. The language of HTML is universal.


How did you teach yourself HTML, personally? Why did you learn it?

I wanted to build a website for my band back in 2002! But I didn’t have money to pay anyone.

When I asked developers, no one really knew how to explain it to me. So I took it upon myself to learn: I Googled, read books, and asked friends for advice. Slowly I figured out how to build my own website, and it unlocked everything for me.

That sounds so cool.

Yeah — you've got to learn these things if you want to survive in today's online world. What is a business that doesn't have a webpage? Honestly, developers charge thousands of dollars to build websites for people, and then you have to keep paying them every time you want to update or change your website. With this short course — only four weeks and less than three hundred dollars — you can take charge of your business website and make your life so much easier. 

What is a business that doesn't have a webpage? With this short course, you can take charge of your business website and make your life so much easier.

Do you believe that everyone should know HTML? 

Absolutely. It's such a huge win for such a small amount of time and learning. You can pick it up fairly easily and then you'll be the one telling all your friends that they, too, should seriously learn this.

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What were some of the biggest things that surprised you about learning HTML?

That learning HTML is easy.  

It's getting started that's really the hardest part. But isn’t that true of anything in life? Well, it’s especially true with coding.

I’ve found that if you have someone to show you the important parts of HTML, and which parts to ignore, then it actually can be fairly easy and you can start creating websites in just a few weeks.

How does knowing HTML make your life better? 

You will be better at your job.

Some people might say, “Oh, but I don’t work in a tech field,” as a way to think that they don't need to learn HTML, but it's not that separated anymore. Almost every field is becoming digitized. If you have a business, what's the first thing people do? Google you and look for your website.

Whether you are building an app, or you own a pizza parlor in your local town, or you have a kid who wants to learn how to code, knowing how the Internet works will give you an edge. And there’s no better way to understand how the Internet works then to spend at least 10 hours of your life coding.

Here’s a metaphor:  It’s like opening up the hood of your car once in a while. Knowing how a car runs might not be a skill you use daily when driving to work, but when things break down, or you need to upgrade, you’re going to have a strong advantage. You’ll know much more about either fixing it yourself, or whether you’re overpaying the mechanic. 

Any cool things you’re doing with HTML right now?

Yeah! I'm using HTML5 to make mobile friendly (aka. responsive) sites and apps. It's the future! (And I'll show you how to do it in my class.)

So, let's get specific. What kinds of things can you build with HTML and CSS?

Any website you’ve ever seen: the Front-End (aka. The Visuals) were created with a combination of HTML + CSS. Always. 100% of the time. The Backend? Well, there are dozens of options, but what every site has in common is HTML + CSS as the framework.

What is CSS? Why does it matter?

CSS stands for "Cascading Style Sheets." It’s the STYLE of your website: the color, fonts, margins, columns, line-spacing. All of that is controlled by one language: CSS. I'll show you how it works and how to add custom styling to your website. This is where you make things beautiful.

What kinds of projects will we learn in your class? What will we build?

You're going to build your own HTML portfolio page, work with multi-column page layouts, and build your own blog template. Then, you'll learn how to make your website responsive and look beautiful.

Here are a few examples of student projects from people who have taken my course: 



Everyone learns the same skills, but they come up with wildly different sites. This is the power of HTML + CSS! 



And here is yet another example: 



Who is this for?

This is for you if you are a:

  • COMPLETE BEGINNER: you want to get started coding and want to understand the basics of website development.
  • PROMOTION SEEKER: you need to build your first website, blog, or portfolio page. 
  • ENTREPRENEUR OR FOUNDER: you need a business page, and you don't have a lot of money or time, and you need to build it yourself. 
  • DESIGNER: you have mad design skills, but don't know anything about web design or development. Start here. You'll be flying into digital design in no time. 
  • FRONT-END DEVELOPER: you want to become a front-end developer and chart a course through learning multiple programming languages over time. 

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Alright Chris, what about this scenario: If I took your PFNP course (the total beginner programming course), should I take HTML?

Yes. There will be some overlap — we'll cover some of what you learned in Programming for Non-Programmers. However, it's like taking piano lessons and learning the scales again and refreshing your memory before you go on to more complex topics. You don't learn something once and never practice it again. This course will have some extra practice for you to continue to build your skills, and then grow from there. 

Who is this course *not* for?

You know, I actually think everyone should take this course.

Even if you’re not going to become a developer, these skills are useful for blogging, sending emails, or just being a human being on the Internet. It is the 12 hours of HTML and CSS that I think everyone needs to be successful in their job.

Even if you’re not going to become a developer, these skills are useful for blogging, sending emails, or just being a human being on the Internet.

I’d say the only person it’s not for, is someone who already has 20+ hours of HTML/CSS under their belt. If you’ve already launched responsive sites, used Bootstrap, or taken an HTML/CSS course, then this might be too basic. And yet, it could also be a great review. Like I said, practice those scales.

Why did you change the course up and re-launch it?

Motivation is often the hardest part about completing an online course. When you’re learning online you’re competing for time from Netflix, online shopping, browsing Facebook… all the things!

As an online learner myself, I know how hard it can be to stay motivated. Which is why I wanted to re-launch One Month HTML as a premium course. A premium course gives you personal time with me to answer any questions you have, and you have a group of dedicated students who are working with you in real time, to make sure you get it all done.

So far this year, we’ve found our premium courses are hugely successful in getting students to complete the entire course.

The industry standard for MOOC's and other online education courses is a 3-5% completion rate. That means that most students (95%) who start a course online don't ever finish it.

In our One Month premium courses, we have a 50% completion rate. That means half of our students complete every single lesson in the course in four weeks or faster. And still other students complete a significant amount of the course, making these courses more than 10 times more successful at helping students hit their goals than other online courses. 

And then our students have gone off to create dozens of websites, launch businesses, and even get new jobs.

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How is this different from the regular HTML course that’s been available already?

With the “Premium” course I’ll be there with a small batch of students. We’ll be using Slack (a chatroom-like application) so that you can connect with me and the other students, and that way we can communicate, share homework and images over the four week period of the class.

I’ll also be grading homework, and holding weekly “ask me anything” office hours that you can join! It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, and my favorite way to teach.

What new material is in this course?

The One Month HTML premium course will cover everything that we also have in the library course, so it is really up to you how you take it. If you're a great self-learner, take the library course. But if you want 1:1 teacher time, grab a spot in the premium course.

Also — I've added some additional material, so we’ll have the time to cover the fundamentals of Responsive Design, and the Bootstrap framework.

What do you wish students knew in advance, before they sign up for the course?

The biggest hurdle is that people have before starting is that they think they need to know more before they begin. Honestly, this is what I hear over and over again. 

Come as you are. You're not dumb or stupid. I'll show you what to do, and if you have any questions, I'm in our Slack room every day to answer questions. 

So come as you are — and I’ll challenge you accordingly!

Tell me about some of your students! 

Sure thing! I worked with Charles Best (the CEO of Donors Choose) as his personal coding tutor for about 12 months. As CEO, he knew he wouldn’t be actually coding the site, but he wanted to know enough code so that he could more confidently talk with, and hire developers.

We began with a strong foundation in HTML + CSS, before moving onto JavaScript. During that time he made a prototype for  a site that is “a crowdsourced style guide for writers.” He’d later go onto to release the full version of the web app and serve up hundreds of tips from writers.

One more example:

This guy, Patrick Stapleton, dropped out of college. He began coding with us here at One Month and within 6 months was getting offered $100k+ jobs. Now to be fair: Patrick worked his ass off, but that’s not to say that other students can’t do that too! He even later co-authored with Mattan and myself (Install Rails is our free Rails installer that is the default for most Rails newbies around the web).

What do students say after taking this course?

Aww, shucks, they say really nice things. Like:

  • "The teachers are extremely knowledgeable and pretty darned funny."
  • "The videos aren't boring, they get to the point and teach you fast."
  • "Great course. No BS; Straight and to the point but relatable at the same time."
  • "A comprehensive introduction, very helpful for those who are interested in becoming developers but don't know which route to take, the differences between development roles, which language(s) to choose, etc."
  • "Fast, insightful, powerful, supportive"
  • "Chris, the co-founder /  instructor, was really great as far as giving feedback. He made a real effort. The content was pretty engaging and the sequence of course material really seemed to make sense and build upon previous lessons."

People are also giving us great critical feedback and advice for future students:

  • "The only suggestion I would make for the course is to have a faster response time on questions, especially when a main project is due."
  • "I give it a 9 instead of a 10 because the class isn't right for everyone if you cannot commit. You need to commit."

So, how do students sign up? 

You need to reserve one of your spots by enrolling here. It's $299 for the course ($199 if you're already a One Month member). Don't miss out — our courses regularly fill up and if you wait until the last minute, spots are usually gone.

Learn to build your own website! 40% off →



Sarah Peck

Sarah Peck

Sarah brings a love of stories and narrative expression to One Month, and she believes that storytelling and communication are fundamentally about finding the root of our power by owning our deeper narratives and connections. Sarah is a certified yoga teacher, an essayist, and an aspiring singer. When she’s not writing, creating, or teaching, you’ll find her doing handstands, swimming, or learning (still terribly) how to hip-hop dance.