How Valuable Are CSS and HTML Skills Now Browsers Have Matured?

For this month’s net magazine, Martin Cooper asked me to provide some thoughts on this question prompted by a recent exchange between Jeff Croft and Jeffrey Zeldman.

In Web Standards Killed the HTML Star Croft suggested that given the maturity of browsers, specialising in HTML and CSS is a skillset with decreasing value. In It’s 2014. Is Web Design Dead? Zeldman reiterated that even in the face of improved standards support, the complexity of the web never really goes away, and that we still need to share best practices and remind each other why they exist.

Generalise or specialise, this is one of those pointless debates that re-surfaces every six months that is ultimately concerned with job titles… and I’m boring myself just writing about it…

Here’s what I told net magazine:

It’s always easy to assume things are different to how they were previously. Yesterday’s web developers had to wrestle with box-model hacks, image-replacement techniques and a thousand ways to clear a float. Internet Explorer had become so dominant, that code was attuned to its various peculiarities.

As the old saying goes, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”. We’re still futzing around with box-models, image replacement has given way to web fonts, animations, transforms, filters… and CSS3 layout modules are ten a penny. WebKit has become so dominant, that code is attuned to its various peculiarities.

Everything changes and nothing changes all at once. Specialise or generalise, how you develop your career is up to you. Flexible freelancer or CSS consultant, as Zeldman said, the best advice is always “follow the path you love”.