Should Bloggers Know XHTML & CSS?

Inspired by John’s awesome post on how to bug check a blog yesterday, I thought I would ask you whether or not knowlege of XHTML/CSS is required for bloggers?

Part of the point of blogs, and the reason for their popularity is that you dont have to be tooooo technical to get started, but as blogging matures, and a new breed of professional publishers emerges, it seems that code is once again hip, and I’d argue that basic knowlege of how web pages work will give some of you an edge.

Proposal: A Short Course in XHTML/CSS Geared for Bloggers

Although there are a ton of html tutorials out there, I think we could benefit from a “quick and dirty” course, aimed at bloggers specifically. Here’s a few ideas/points

  • Geared toward bloggers entering posts, not designers building websites
  • Short, easy chapters
  • All in one “book” for easy reference


  • To get bloggers to the point where they are comfortable working with various useful elements in html and css
  • Able to edit templates and tweak CSS files to produce unique themes based on existing designs

Let Me Know What You Think!

So, tell me if you think this would be useful, or if you think bloggers really dont need this knowlege. I wont mind, i’ll just think of something else to write about 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Should Bloggers Know XHTML & CSS?

  1. That would be great! With learn by doing examples. As a new blogger I struggle with this stuff. Not the concept but the application. A tutorial would be awesome.


  2. They joke about Physics for Poets, but there’s nothing wrong with approaching the instruction with recognition that CSS and HTML themselves are NOT, per se, what interests the person reading the manual.
    Such a course should provide instructions on how to quickly modify templates (e.g., Viklund’s) for different colors, column widths, blocs, etc. And let it stay with the concept that as much as possible should be lifted so that real writing isn’t involved, but merely provide understanding of what is happening and how to alter the lines.
    The answer is YES, I think this is a really GREAT idea!

  3. I think it helps very much. I like the WC3 school for learning it. I don’t know how required it is though. Editors, CMS and such are becoming less and less user hostile each day.

  4. At the base level; a lot of people need to at least know how to change the standard templates “Place Your Link Here” ‘s and the basics of placing ads in templates. Many people are scared to touch a template (afraid they’ll break it). I see this all the time and it really irk’s me!

    Starting with the basics is good for everyone as “” even an old dog can learn new tricks “” or maybe something easy to do that he/she just totally forgot about!

  5. I would definitely want something like this. It would be great to have just a simple reference work for those who need to to write a better post but don’t need to design a website from scratch.

  6. I started blogging juist a little while ago and have quickly found out that I need more knowledge to do what I want to do. While I can easily post a generic looking blog, I want mine to stand out which means learning to code.

    Now I’m a complete rooky, so I would love to see this course. My input: make it beginner friendly (starting from “What is XHTML & CSS?”), and the shorter the better. Build it with stages, like here’s what you need to get started, here’s the next step, and so on.

    Great idea, tell me where to find it when it’s out there.

  7. Whatever format it takes, please make it noob friendly. I’ve yet to see a really dumbed down, easy to grok intro to CSS (though the one mentioned earlier is better than most). I agree that multiple examples (TypePad, WP, etc.) would be helpful.

  8. I think what would be great would be a bloggers wiki. Cascading style sheets and the like would be a good starting point, but also sections for hacks for TypePad, WordPress, etc would make sense.
    But, unless O’Reilly or another “professional” publisher takes it on, I’d suggest you launch it as a wiki. Let the community keep it up to date.

  9. Agreed John, and I think if we’re going to do this,we’ll do it right, and develop a neat list of “further reading” links to go with it for those who want to go further.

    If we can get a bunch of people just using h tags in the right places, and being able to style links (or, and i know this might be stretching it…. realizing why blue, underlined links rock…) then itll be killer!


    I was thinking “XHTML Hacks: Subject” as page titles, though suggestions most welcome…

    give me a couple of days guys, and i’ll get the first hacks out there

    thanks for the feedback and help..

  10. Nick, I think it’s a great idea!

    The initial appeal of blogging for many people is the ease of getting material on the web. But as bloggers become more serious about building an audience, making money or extending their reputation, design and useability issues become ever more important.

    Although there *are* plenty of resources for learning CSS and XHTML online, it never hurts to make it easy for bloggers to dip their feet in the water that first time and realize that it’s something they *can* do.

  11. Great idea. I have lost count of the wasted hours trying to modify a template.

  12. This is an excellent idea. I know a few bloggers who have page display problems, only to find that they used HTML tags instead of XHTML. Since most blog platforms work on XHTML, it’s a big problem. Of course, like a car, you don’t need to be able to fix an engine to drive one, it doesn’t hurt to know a few things about functionality.

  13. Oh hell yes, i could so use a quick guide to XHTML & CSS, when i learnt webdesign they were only just coming in and i didn’t pay them much respect, but now wish i new more about them.

  14. Oh man, I would love to see you take that on. When I got into blogging, I knew nothing about code. HTML isn’t that hard to learn, but CSS? Yikes!

    I have two main blogs. One is on TypePad; I need to take it to the Pro level soon. I need to figure out how to put a horizontal AdSense unit right below the header. And that seems easy compared to getting it to show only three AdSense ads per page!

    I just moved my other blog from Blogger to WordPress. TypePad seems easy compared to that. Thank god for plugins, but my theme isn’t drag and drop widget enabled, so I’m going to have to get my hands dirty. It is very intimidating.

    So yes, please provide some help in this arena!

  15. I think it would be a great idea. I see so many blogs out their that would be wonderful places to read if they had just a little bit more knowledge of how to make the reader have to work just a little less on the experience. I’m talking about something as little as being able to wrap text around an image.

  16. I do, however, think a lot og blogs could benefit from authors with some knowledge of structural markup – using hx for headers rather than bolding it or adding emphasis, giving imgs alt tags, etc. It would improve the experience for their readers.


    That’s my point exactly. We dont need another w3schools, that site is just great the way it is. What we need is a set of ‘hacks’ that are geared toward helping bloggers make better posts by knowing just a little more about some of the things that really matter.

    As for communicating knowlege, well yes, the point would be to put some context, blogging context to this, and to take the “oh my god what’s a doctype?” questions out of the equation entirely.

    The emphasis is bloggers, not designers or programmers.

  17. I don’t think a blogger necessarily needs XHTML/CSS knowledge. The whole point of the various free blog services (, Blogger, etc) is that you don’t need to be a genius to set one up.

    I do, however, think a lot og blogs could benefit from authors with some knowledge of structural markup – using hx for headers rather than bolding it or adding emphasis, giving imgs alt tags, etc. It would improve the experience for their readers.

    It’s by no means a necessity.

    The necessary resources are already there for any blogger interested in gaining the knowledge, but perhaps if the benefits of gaining that knowledge were communicated better?

  18. I think most publishing platforms for blogs provide help and instructions on how to modify your templates. Aside from that there are many sites which show the basics of html and css for newbies. I see no difference between a fellow blogger and someone learning html for other reasons.

    I suggest pointing bloggers who wish to learn html/css to W3 Schools

  19. As you say, it might not be necessary but it could give a blogger an edge. It’s either that or pay for the skills, right? I have a passable “get by” knowledge of CSS but I must admit I do get stumped on the differences between IE and FF on a *regular* basis, plus wouldn’t know where to start developing a stretchy, flowing “no tables allowed” blog template from scratch.

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