Web Development 101: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Explained

Guest Blogger

Jonathan Baker

Ready to Begin Your Coding Journey?

From online retail stores to social media platforms, the internet is teeming with websites that cater to and fulfill virtually every need. If you are looking to begin your journey into the field of programming, web development is a great place to start. In this blog, we will break down the basics of web development including the cornerstone technologies of HTML, CSS, and one of the most commonly used programming languages, JavaScript. 

Put simply, web development revolves around the building and maintenance of websites, and it encompasses a wide range of technologies and tools.

Programming and Web Development

When a web designer is given a project to build a website with specific requirements, a specific theme, font, colors, header, or creative aspects like  animations, it is their job to take that big idea and break it down into small pieces. These pieces are then translated into programming instructions that the computer is able to understand, including the correct order of instructions and the right syntax.

Every single web page you have ever visited was built using a sequence of instructions, one on top of the other. Without a web browser, that code is merely just a text file. It’s only when that text file is opened with a web browser that the magic happens. The browser fetches the HTML and other coding languages and then translates the code into a coherent, structured webpage that can be interacted with. 

HTML and CSS are not technically programming languages, they exist to provide page structure and style information. But before we move on to JavaScript, it’s important to understand the basics of HTML and CSS as they are on the front end of virtually every single webpage and app.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: An Overview

  • HTML provides the basic structure of webpages, which can be enhanced and built upon through other technologies like CSS and JavaScript.
  • CSS is what is used to control the presentation, formatting and layout of each webpage. 
  • JavaScript is used to control how various elements interact with each other.


Regardless of the complexity or number of technologies involved, HTML is at the core of every webpage. It is an absolutely essential skill for any web developer to have in their toolbox, and it is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to create web content. 

So, how does HTML work? HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. The term ‘markup language’ means that instead of using a language that directly performs a function, HTML instead uses various tags that can identify types of content and the purposes that they serve in order to display each webpage. HTML tags, also known as ‘elements,’ have intuitive names such as header tags, paragraph tags, image tags, etc. 

Take, for example, the blog you are reading right now. If we were coding this page from scratch, we would use the HTML tag <p>. The brackets denote the tag, and the letter ‘p’ inside the brackets tells the computer that we want to create a paragraph instead of some other type of content. Once we have used the <p> tag, the computer assumes everything that follows is part of the paragraph until you close the tag with </p>. So, our page would look something like this:

<p> This is our blog. </p> 

By using HTML tags, you can add headings, format your paragraphs, make lists, emphasize text, create links, insert images, control line breaks, build tables, and much more.


CSS stands for cascading style sheets, and its primary responsibility is dictating how each HTML element of a website should actually appear on the user’s web browser. While HTML focuses on providing the raw tools needed to structure content on a given website, CSS helps to style that content so it will display in the way the creator meant it to be seen. CSS and HTML are kept separate to ensure that the webpage is built correctly before they are reformatted. 

While HTML acts as the basic structure of your webpage, CSS is what gives your page style. Those stylish fonts, eye-catching colors, and sleek animations are all thanks to CSS. It is an incredibly powerful and important tool because more than just making your webpage look great, it also sets the tone and mood of your site as a whole. On top of that, CSS is also what allows websites to adapt to different browsers, devices, and screen sizes.


JavaScript is a more complex language than HTML and CSS, but it is supported by every modern web browser and is used in virtually every website for more power and complex functionality. JavaScript is a logic-based language that modifies web content and makes it behave in various ways in response to a user’s actions. A few common uses of JavaScript include calls-to-action, confirmation boxes, and adding new identities to existing information. 

Put simply, JavaScript is what developers use to make their site interactive. The majority of dynamic behaviors you’ll encounter on any given site is thanks to JavaScript, which augments your web browser’s default controls and behaviors. 

A common example of JavaScript in action is action boxes that pop up when you click on something. Think back to the last time you entered your information into an online form and a confirmation box popped up asking you to confirm or cancel before moving forward. That confirmation box appears thanks to the power of JavaScript. 

Other uses of JavaScript include animations, special effects, interactive games, check forms, and password creation. It can even be used to create server-based applications and build mobile apps. You can add snippets of JavaScript into your HTML document’s header or body to bring your web content to the next level. 

Learning a programming language isn’t easy, but JavaScript is one of the simplest to pick up for a beginner. The hardest part of learning to code is simply getting started, but once you learn the basics of JavaScript you will be able to easily pick up more advanced languages.

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