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Do Software Engineers Need to know HTML and CSS?

(Let’s find out)

By Stanley Udegbunam || Updated  Nov 3rd, 2022

Software Engineers learning HTML and CSS

Web development which entails working with HTML and CSS is just an aspect of software engineering. 

There are other aspects of software engineering like data science and mobile development that has nothing to do with the knowledge of HTML and CSS.

It all depends on the aspect of software engineering you are inclined to.

However, the knowledge of HTML and CSS are fundamental web development concepts, which is beneficial to every software engineer.


HTML and CSS are the building blocks of the web.

As of 2022, there are around 1.14 billion websites worldwide, and they were built with different web development technologies, and HTML and CSS are the most common among them.

Making these two technologies among the most common technologies in the software industry.

On the other hand, the title “software engineer” is a broad title that means many different things to different people.

But not to confuse you with software engineering, programming, software development, coding etc.

They are all referring to the different fields that design, create, utilize and maintain software in the business world, and web design is one of them.

So, do software engineers need to learn HTML and CSS?

Let’s find out.

What’s Software Engineering

Over the years, many people and institutions have defined software engineering in their terms.

Software engineering applies a systematic, disciplined, and computable approach to software development, operation, and maintenance.

It involves analyzing user requirements and designing, building, and testing software applications that satisfy them.

Software engineers are always called different names;

Software developer, programmer, coder and so on.

In some cases, all these mean the same thing; when someone is referring to one, he/she is also referring to another. But there are cases where there are some minute differences.

Hence, before we answer this question, let’s see the difference between a software engineer and a software developer.

A software engineer applies engineering principles to the design, development, maintenance, testing and evaluation of computer software. 

This field is normally a highly collaborative activity that requires teamwork and collaborative skills. 

A software engineer needs the components of a system’s hardware to create the tools to develop the software to control the hardware.

Finally, software engineers solve issues on a large scale.

Meanwhile, software developers build software that runs across various types of computers.

They use finished tools to build apps and write complete programs needed to carry out work inside these computers. 

Developers use many of the same development skills acquired as their engineering counterparts but on a limited scale.

The usefulness of HTML and CSS Knowlege to Software Developers

A software engineer should be able to cook up a website using at least the fundamental knowledge of web development HTML and CSS concepts.

But software engineering has many aspects, and web development is just one of them.

Thus, a software engineer is not necessarily someone whose job is to create websites.

So, the knowledge of web development technologies like HTML and CSS is one you can pick up as you play through your software engineering career.

And it will only be useful if you focus your career on the aspect of software engineering that has nothing to do with web development, and there are lots of them.

Here are some aspects of software development that you might know;

  • Video game designer
  • Quality assurance engineer
  • CRM project manager
  • Software integration engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Front-end engineer
  • Full-stack engineer
  • 3D Graphics Developer
  • Data scientist
  • Mobile Developer
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Back-end engineer

As you can see, a good number of them require little or no knowledge of web design and development.

And if you decide to focus on these, you will do perfectly fine without knowing HTML and CSS.

But, every software engineer should consider learning some fundamental web development concepts.

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider learning a little HTML and CSS even if, in your career path, you won’t be needing them;

  • The Web is Another Lens for Thinking About Systems

Programming languages mostly follow the same principles, and when you learn to build for the web, you are also developing some important skills that will be useful to your career when you focus on an aspect of software engineering that doesn’t require HTML and CSS.

You will also see the same similarities in design principles.

Some development for the web forces you to deal with some interesting constraints and, at the same time, build some general software engineering skills like your problem-solving skills.

Sometimes, having a little bit of web experience expands your problem-solving toolbox.

  • Picking What Matters

The goal should be to understand the fundamentals of web design and how the web and websites work.

And to do that, you need to start by learning HTML and CSS. The technologies used to lay the building blocks or the foundation of every website. 

Secondly, focus on the things that change slowly.

The software engineering industry is a fast-paced world where technologies are rapidly evolving. Trying to keep up will entail leaving out the most important thing, coding.

So you must strike a balance between what you need to learn and what you don’t need. 

If your aspect of software engineering is about building for the web, you don’t need to worry too much about these. 

In the larger picture, these aren’t big changes. 

Learn as much as you want. 

You don’t need to learn every JavaScript framework or every feature of HTML5 and CSS3. 

Many of today’s new technologies won’t be significant for long. 

A few of them will. 

Pick these out.

They’re the concepts you’re more likely to extract value from and implement in your aspect of software engineering, even if you’re not a web developer.

  • Web Development is low-hanging but high-value fruit.

Web-based software can be seen everywhere, which means business owners and companies are looking for skilled persons to help them create their unique web app idea.

The idea of SaaS is becoming more prominent, and it’s the angle most startups are tilting towards.

And SaaS projects are hosted on a web server, and users access it through their browsers.

Hence, as a software engineer, it’s going to be a lot easier to break into the industry and start a career in tech when you start by building web-based projects for either your portfolio or for clients.

HTML and CSS are a lot easier to learn and also easier to set up dev environments on.

From there, you can start climbing the ladder as you acquire more skills focused on one aspect of software engineering.

software engineers using HTML and CSS

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, whether you are going into game development, data science, security engineering or any aspect of software engineering that has nothing to do with websites, having at least the basic knowledge of web design will benefit you more in your career than leaving it off the table.

HTML and CSS are the easiest to learn, and you can learn them a few weekends over a cup of coffee.

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Till we meet again on another article,

Happy Coding!