How To Brush Up On Your (Internet Markup) Language Skills


Earlier this year, I learned that I was shortlisted for a job alongside one other candidate.

I’d submitted a portfolio, interviewed with my potential higher up, wrote a set of sample pieces, and was (obviously) really eager to learn whether or not I’d be making the cut.

Lucky for me, I had an inside source to scoop who my competition was and why we were the two left standing. What I wasn’t expecting was to discover that our strengths and weaknesses both had to do with our proficiency with language: the other candidate’s written French was much more polished than mine, but I’d demonstrated my understanding of HTML and CSS.

Fast forwarding a tad, you should know that neither of us got the job as the company underwent a bit of a hiring freeze (it happens). But I was still intrigued by my competition’s lack of knowledge of markup languages. How is it, considering how prevalent the Internet and technology are in most fields nowadays, that some still don’t know how to code?

Sure, it’s as easy now as it ever was to fully customize your Tumblr, Blogger or Twitter page with a simple click or drag and drop. A decade ago, we were doing it with GeoCities and LiveJournal. Except it gets tiresome seeing the same layout over and over again, with all the blogs and personal websites out there, standing out is key. Design is important.

It’s not hard to find sites with resources for beginner code-monkeys; the Internet is crawling with them. If you’re looking to spruce up your blog and CV with some extra skills but aren’t sure where to start, these are some of the better sites to give you a jump start:

Back to basics

The first site I ever looked to for HTML how-to was Lissa Explains. Don’t let the eye-popping fluorescent-themed colour scheme fool you – it’s super useful. If you’ve never encountered anything code-related before, this site is fantastic because it’s meant for kids. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Developers know best

Mozilla, you know, those fine folks behind Firefox, have created the Mozilla Developer Network, a hub that’s chock full of tools and articles on web development. It’s completely open and run by developers, so there’s no question about the relevancy of the information or whether it’s up-to-date. There’s also a lot more than just HTML and CSS.

Instant gratification helps

Who doesn’t like getting a big pat on the back? What’s even better is getting one immediately after doing something right. Code Academy is an interactive resource for learning how to code. It works lesson by lesson and when you understand key concepts it gives you badges and points. Sounds kind of fun, no? You can sign up to get a new lesson in your inbox every week, or just go through the site at your own pace. It’s mostly for JavaScript, but they’ve recently started modules for HTML and CSS as well.

The idea isn’t to become a web design pro, but you never know when an employer might be looking for some extra web savvy. Being able to prove you’re disciplined enough to teach yourself something new is also a nice tidbit to mention in an interview.