Learning CSS/HTML, Start with Static or Dynamic?

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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

The Graphic Design Blog asks an interesting question about advice for beginners on learning CSS/HTML: Should newbies learn static or dynamic web design?

The obvious conclusion would be ‘you gotta learn to walk before you can run’, but this isn’t necessarily true anymore on the web. It is a fairly easy process to get WordPress installed on a website and a beginner could learn a lot about web design and layout quickly by poking around with that. The fact is, there just isn’t a whole heck of a lot of static webpages left out there, and the ones that are there feel like dinosaurs next to all these sexy dynamic pages out there. Why learn what is essentially an outdated form of web design?

It is an interesting debate though, and there might not be a right or wrong answer. I personally lean toward static. It’s all about those fundamentals. That’s why football teams hold practice every day instead of scrimmages. They need to work on their speed and their footwork and ball handling skills, just like a beginning web designer needs to be thinking about layout styles, typographic control, and code efficiency. It’s hard to be thinking about those things while you are just poking around a big beast of code 99% of which you don’t understand. Web design beginners should be asking themselves whether absolute or relative positioning is more appropriate not trying to decipher some complex database call.

This may seem obvious, but dynamic pages are just static pages with some dynamic content plugged in. Building a beautiful dynamic site happens by first building a beautiful static site and then adding/replacing content with dynamic content. I know the line gets fuzzier and fuzzier between designer and developer, but while they may always be separate jobs, they are separate tasks, so think and act on them separately.