The advent of services like Squarespace has an increasing number of people asking whether learning code is still a worthwhile endeavor. They offer clean, well-designed templates with myriad customization options. They’ve received glowing feedback from even picky critics. Furthermore, Software as a Service (a.k.a. SaaS, software that is delivered remotely) like that of Squarespace offers some tantalizing perks; in addition to making sites a cinch to build, they provide hosting and support, and are constantly being retooled for greater refinement and accessibility—all for a low monthly fee.
So those debating their next Dev step are left with an interesting question: Why learn to code at all, when there’s Squarespace? The potential answers—like good code—pertain to the things that may not be readily apparent, but make all the difference in the world: what you need, what you love, and what will best serve you at the end of the day.
REASON #1: GREATER FLEXIBILITY
Simplified drag-and-drop interfaces like those offered by Squarespace are useful for novice site-builders and those requiring a fixed level of functionality from their online presence. However, understanding code provides you with infinite options and complete control over your work. Whatever you can imagine, you can create. This is important for building prototypes, expanding existing concepts, and selectively updating portions of your site without impacting others. Although, as anyone who has ever watched a whole site go pear-shaped after they changed some footer text can tell you, this is not a foolproof process.
In any case, while a SaaS product may be right for you now, it’s likely (even hopeful!) that your scope will eventually grow beyond the capacity they provide. Being able to develop something original, just the way you want it, means that your site can evolve as your needs do—and that it will always be exactly what you need. A wisely crafted design built with an eye toward the future will pay off again and again.
REASON #2: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Imagine you’ve used a SaaS provider like Squarespace to build your site. Did something break? Is your shopping cart buggy? Did you just add some footer text and watch the whole site disappear? You’ll be dependent on forums (where the advice will likely prove unhelpful, since this kind of troubleshooting usually requires a fundamental knowledge of coding), peer advice, and a technical support department that may be limited in what they can share with or update for you. Knowing code allows you to be self-reliant. When there’s a problem, you can grab your toolbox and get to work—instead of helplessly waiting for someone else to make the time for you.
REASON #3: …LIKE A BOSS
It’s possible to advance without in-depth learning about development—many have. And growing often means that this task ends up delegated in any case—according to Forbes, pros like Mark Zuckerberg haven’t written a line of code in years. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the outlook for Web Developer job prospects is best for “those with knowledge of multiple programming languages and digital multimedia tools.”
If you understand code, you strengthen your ability to act as a valuable liaison, no matter what your role. It makes you a valuable asset if you’re working within a company, and a stronger leader if you’re building your own. You will also remain empowered when hiring and managing developers or outsourcing efforts. Because you are familiar with the same tools they are, you will know what is feasible, what is efficient, and the true level of effort for any task.
REASON #4: YOU SHOULDN’T!
Although purists could argue about the power and beauty of flawless code all day (and often do), and how it makes the world a better place (it does), it would be patently untrue to say that everyone would be best served coding their own site. There are many for whom Squarespace provides a fantastic alternative. It’s cost-effective, user-friendly, and simple. Ultimately, deciding whether to learn code or use a service like Squarespace is about assessing your own needs and goals. Whether your build your site from scratch or drag-and-drop, your vision of the future is yours alone.
Ready to dive in? Take the plunge with our Web Development Immersive.