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Why CSS is Underrated and Why it’s Important

In the realm of web development, CSS stands as a silent powerhouse, often underestimated amidst the clamor for HTML and JavaScript mastery. Despite its pivotal role in shaping the visual allure and functionality of websites, CSS frequently languishes in the shadows of its more prominent counterparts.

Yet, beneath its unassuming facade lies an indispensable tool capable of transforming ordinary websites into extraordinary digital experiences. Mastery of CSS isn’t merely a checkbox on the path to becoming a proficient developer—it’s a fundamental pillar that underpins the very essence of web design.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the overlooked realm of CSS, exploring its unparalleled potential and shedding light on why its comprehension is crucial for anyone aspiring to craft captivating online experiences. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems of CSS and embark on a journey to unleash its full power in the world of web development.

My Observation

In the early days of web development, a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and perhaps one backend language was sufficient to qualify for a web development role. However, the landscape has evolved significantly since then. Nowadays, to be considered proficient in frontend development, one must possess a broader skill set. Alongside HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, familiarity with at least one frontend framework is essential.

But the requirements don’t end there. Working with frontend frameworks introduces a host of additional concepts and tools that developers must master. From state management tools to navigating various design systems like Material UI, the learning curve can seem daunting.

Moreover, the demands of the industry continue to grow. For instance, proficiency in React alone may no longer suffice; many companies now expect candidates to be proficient in Next.js as well. Additionally, the widespread adoption of TypeScript means developers must broaden their skill set to remain competitive in the job market.

This influx of new technologies underscores the interconnected nature of web development. Proficiency in emerging tools often relies on a solid foundation in established ones. For example, mastering TypeScript necessitates a thorough understanding of JavaScript, while proficiency in Next.js builds upon knowledge of React.

I strongly believe this among many other reasons is why beginners spend little to no time mastering CSS just so they can focus on learning more important technologies that would make them employable. But they forget that CSS also plays a major role in helping them grow in their career especially as a frontend developer.

Why Do Most Beginners Underrate CSS?

I posted a video recently on Instagram regarding the topic above, and I noticed from the comments that a lot of beginners learn CSS libraries and frameworks too early and don’t care about learning the inner workings of CSS.

There are other reasons why beginners underrate CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

The Reasons

Some of these reasons are:

  • Perceived Simplicity:

    CSS can appear deceptively simple at first glance, especially compared to programming languages like JavaScript or Python. Beginners might underestimate its power and importance, thinking it’s just about changing colors and fonts.

  • Lack of Understanding:

    Without diving deeply into CSS, beginners cannot fully grasp the capabilities and significance of CSS in web development. This will make them underestimate the role that CSS plays in creating visually appealing and responsive websites, as well as its impact on user experience and accessibility.

  • Focus on JavaScript:

    Many beginners are drawn to JavaScript due to its interactivity and functionality. As a result, they may prioritize learning JavaScript over CSS, thinking it’s more essential for building dynamic websites and neglecting the significance of CSS in web development.

  • Overreliance on Frameworks:

    With the prevalence of CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and Tailwind CSS, beginners might rely heavily on these tools without fully understanding the underlying CSS principles. This can lead to a lack of appreciation for CSS itself.

  • Limited Exposure:

    Beginners may not have been exposed to well-designed websites or experienced the frustration of poorly styled ones. Consequently, they may not fully appreciate the role of CSS in creating a polished user experience.

  • Lack of Understanding:

    Without diving deeply into CSS, beginners may not fully grasp its capabilities and complexities. They might not realize the intricacies involved in styling a webpage effectively or the importance of responsive design.

Overall, while CSS might be underestimated by beginners initially, as they delve deeper into web development and gain experience, they often come to realize its critical role in creating engaging, responsive, and user-friendly websites.

Why Is It Important to Understand the Inner Workings of CSS?

Understanding how CSS works under the hood will help you know how cascade and specificity work. This is one major concept in CSS that will help you understand CSS on a higher dimension. Jumping to a CSS library or framework too early would deprive you of the privilege of learning this concept.

Learning how to work with a CSS library or framework is good but not understanding the inner workings of CSS before jumping on a library is not a good way to master CSS. Understanding the inner workings of CSS is crucial for several reasons:


  • Efficient Problem Solving:

    When you understand how CSS works under the hood, you’re better equipped to troubleshoot and debug issues efficiently. You can identify the root causes of styling problems more effectively and implement solutions with greater precision.

  • Optimized Performance:

    Knowledge of CSS internals enables you to write more efficient and performant stylesheets. By understanding concepts like specificity, inheritance, and the CSS cascade, you can write code that minimizes redundancy and maximizes performance, leading to faster load times and smoother rendering.

  • Customization and Flexibility:

    A deep understanding of CSS empowers you to customize and extend existing frameworks and libraries to suit your specific needs. Whether it’s tweaking prebuilt components or creating entirely new styles from scratch, knowing how CSS works gives you the freedom to tailor designs to your exact requirements.

  • Cross-browser Compatibility:

    Different web browsers may interpret CSS rules differently, leading to inconsistencies in rendering. Understanding CSS fundamentals allows you to write code that is more compatible across various browsers, reducing the likelihood of unexpected layout or styling issues.

  • Responsive Design:

    Responsive web design is crucial for ensuring a seamless user experience across different devices and screen sizes. By grasping the intricacies of CSS layout techniques like flexbox, grid, and media queries, you can create responsive designs that adapt gracefully to diverse viewing environments.

  • Accessibility:Accessibility is a fundamental aspect of web design, ensuring that websites are usable by people of all abilities. Understanding CSS enables you to implement accessibility features such as semantic HTML structure, proper use of ARIA roles, and high-contrast styling for improved readability.

Special Reason:

  • Innovation and Creativity:

    With a solid understanding of CSS principles, you can push the boundaries of design and unleash your creativity. Whether it’s experimenting with new layout techniques, exploring advanced animations and transitions, or diving into emerging CSS features like variables and custom properties, deep CSS knowledge opens up a world of creative possibilities.

In essence, understanding the inner workings of CSS not only makes you a more proficient developer but also empowers you to create faster, more accessible, and visually compelling web experiences that meet modern design standards and user expectations.

What are the Implications of not Learning CSS Properly?

We’ve seen why it is important to take the time needed to properly learn CSS, let’s also take a look at the implications of not learning CSS properly, and some of these implications are:

  • Styling Conflicts:

    Incorrectly applied CSS rules or lack of specificity can lead to styling conflicts, where styles are overridden unintentionally. This can result in inconsistent or unpredictable appearance across different parts of your website.

  • Difficulty in Debugging:

    When styling issues arise, not understanding CSS properly can make it challenging to identify and resolve them efficiently. Without knowledge of CSS selectors, specificity, and inheritance, debugging styling problems becomes more time-consuming and error-prone.

  • Limited Design Options:

    Without knowledge of CSS, you may be limited to using pre-made templates or relying heavily on frameworks and libraries. This can restrict your ability to create unique and customized designs tailored to your specific needs or the needs of your clients.

  • Poor User Experience:

    A website that is poorly styled or difficult to navigate due to CSS issues can result in a negative user experience. Users may become frustrated or confused, leading to higher bounce rates and decreased engagement with your site.

  • SEO Impact:

    While CSS itself doesn’t directly affect search engine optimization (SEO), poorly styled websites can indirectly impact SEO by increasing bounce rates and reducing user engagement metrics, which search engines may interpret as a sign of low-quality content.

  • Difficulty in Collaboration:

    Effective collaboration with designers and other developers requires a common understanding of CSS concepts and best practices. Without proper CSS knowledge, communicating styling requirements and collaborating on design projects becomes more challenging.

Overall, neglecting to learn CSS properly can hinder your ability to create visually appealing, functional, and accessible websites, ultimately impacting the success of your projects and career prospects in web development.

How do I Learn CSS Properly?

Now that we’ve seen why it is important to learn CSS the right way and the some of the implications of not learning it properly, let’s see how you can learn CSS properly, I’m going to share my approach with you, so stay tuned.

While learning CSS I had this idea of building my own projects one step at a time with every single thing I learned, so I drew a plan where I’d build three different projects using floats for the first, flexbox for the second, and CSS grid for the third.

I made sure to test myself on projects as a way of evaluating what I’ve learned so far. And after I was done building a project using floats, I went ahead to learn flexbox, then I built another project using flexbox. These projects were projects I came up with myself not the only ones from the courses I took. I built another project after I was done learning CSS grid.

At this point I had not learned how to work with CSS media queries so I didn’t focus on making the websites responsive. By the time I got to the part of the course that taught me how to make website responsive, I already had three different projects of my own with which I could practice responsiveness with.

Learning this way made the whole process so much easier and fun, I even started seeing things differently after learning responsiveness. And I realize how you layout or structure your HTML determines how easier it would be for you make a website responsive.

This experience has made me conscious of always thinking about smaller devices even when I’m using the desktop-first approach to style web pages.

Free Recommended Courses to Learn CSS Properly

In this section, I’ll focus on sharing three different free courses which I shared some time ago on LinkedIn that would help you master responsiveness because it’s the most common issue I’ve seen among beginners.

  • Responsive CSS Tutorial: Learn Responsive Web Design by Scrimba:

    Responsive CSS Tutorial: Learn Responsive Web Design by Scrimba

    This course at the top of the list, it’s a free course hosted on YouTube. The focus of this course it to get you comfortable making responsive websites. It covers the following:

    • CSS units

    • Flexbox basics

    • Media queries

    • How to approach a layout

  • Responsive Web Design Tutorials by Net Ninja:

    Responsive Web Design Tutorials by Net Ninja

    This course comes second on the list, and it’s also hosted on YouTube. In this responsive design course you’ll learn all the core essentials of responsive development that you need to go on and make mobile-friendly sites. You’ll be looking at:

    • The view-port

    • Media queries

    • Drop-down menu’s and responsive image.

  • Mobile-First Responsive Build (with CSS Grid) by Net Ninja:

    Mobile-First Responsive Build (with CSS Grid) by Net Ninja

    In this mini-series, you’ll learn how to build a responsive website using a mobile-first approach — developing websites for mobiles first and then extending the design to larger screens.

Paid Recommended Courses to Learn CSS Properly

For those who can afford and would like a recommendation on what course to pay for, here are two good courses for beginners just starting out in web development.

Build Responsive Real-World Websites with HTML and CSS:

This course is tailored for absolute beginners, I love this course because it doesn’t just teach you how to code HTML and CSS. It teaches you how to plan, sketch, design, build, test, and optimize a professional website.The most interesting section for me in the course is the web design rules and framework section. This section contains important lectures that you wouldn’t ordinarily find in any HTML and CSS course, some of the lectures in this section include:

  • TypographyColorsImages and IllustrationsIconsShadowsBorder RadiusWhitespaceVisual HierarchyUser Experience

The course would introduce you to advanced concepts like components and layout patterns. These are things that are not common in a lot of HTML and CSS courses, and knowing these things would help you advance greatly in your journey as a web developer and software developer.

Advanced CSS and Sass: Flexbox, Grid, Animations and More:

I love this course because it taught me a lot of advanced concepts in CSS, it was in this course I first learned that variables could be used in CSS. The most interesting section in this course for me is “how CSS work: a look behind the scenes”. This section contains lectures on the following:

  • Three Pillars of Writing Good HTML and CSS (Never Forget Them!)How CSS is ParsedConverting px to rem: An Effective WorkflowHow CSS Renders a Website: The Visual Formatting ModelCSS Architecture, Components and BEM

This course would teach you advanced concepts and ways of working with floats, flexbox and CSS grid in a way you never would have imagined.

Final Thoughts on Why CSS Shouldn’t be Underrated

Understanding CSS is vital for any web developer’s toolkit. Despite its sometimes overlooked status, CSS remains a cornerstone of modern web development, playing a pivotal role in shaping the visual and interactive aspects of websites. Neglecting to learn CSS properly can have significant consequences, including inefficient styling, compatibility issues, and limitations in design options. Moreover, it can hinder collaboration and negatively impact user experience and search engine visibility.

By delving into the inner workings of CSS, developers can unlock its full potential, enabling them to create more efficient, flexible, and visually appealing websites. Mastery of CSS empowers developers to troubleshoot effectively, optimize performance, and implement responsive and accessible designs. Furthermore, it fosters innovation and creativity, allowing developers to push the boundaries of design and create compelling user experiences.

For those embarking on their journey to master CSS, a structured approach to learning, coupled with hands-on practice and continuous experimentation, can yield significant rewards. Whether through free online tutorials or comprehensive paid courses, investing in CSS education is an investment in the future of web development. By mastering CSS, developers can elevate their skills, expand their career opportunities, and contribute to building better, more engaging websites for users worldwide.

PureCode.ai can cater to your code development process. It will save you valuable time and effort on a project by providing customized, and ready-to-use components which will allow you to prioritize more important and thought-intensive tasks to speed up the development of your user interface.

Shadrach Abba

Shadrach Abba