What is Coding?
Our homes, cars, and jobs are well-equipped with devices that have constant access to the world’s wealth of information at the touch of a button or the sound of our voice.
With such easy, agile access to basically anything you could ever want to know, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our computers know everything. In reality, everything that a computer can do is only because a person taught it the information using code.
Code is how we speak to our devices. It’s a piece of text that tells the computer what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. Unfortunately, we can’t just type up a quick to-do list and expect that our device will do much of anything with the information.
Instead, we have to translate our expectations into a language that computers understand, called “code.” And, much like with Morse, steganography, and the Caesar Shift Cipher, the web developer acts as the person writing the secret code. At the same time, your computer does its best to translate into a language that the layman can understand.
How Coding Works
If you’ve seen The Matrix, you’ve seen an example of the most fundamental computer code, called binary.
It’s a series of 1s and 0s arranged in an order that gives step-by-step directions for processing user commands. It might seem simple, and that’s because it is:
“A computer can only understand two distinct types of data: on and off. In fact, a computer is really just a collection of on/off switches (transistors). Anything that a computer can do is nothing more than a unique combination of some transistors turned on, and some transistors turned off.”
In a binary code, 1s represent “on,” and 0s represent “off,” which also explains the icons often seen on electronic devices where a circle represents the off-switch, and a line represents the on-switch.
These instructions are grouped into sets of 8 digits, called a byte. That’s where terms like kilobyte (1,024 bytes), megabyte (1 million bytes), and gigabyte (1 billion bytes) come from.
The digits, or bits, can be arranged into 256 possible combinations within each byte, with that number increasing exponentially when adding more bytes to a line of code. Because computers have billions of transistors, it would be impossible for programmers to painstakingly arrange 1s and 0s into combinations that initiate the sophisticated processes we can achieve with modern hardware and software.
Programming languages create a “middle man” between binary and human coders that is much easier to work with.
Coding and Website Development
Now that you have some background in coding, it probably makes more sense why you’d want a professional behind the scenes of your web development process.
Sites like SquareSpace and Wix do a lot of the work for you by allowing an easy-to-use interface to serve as a platform for creating your code, but it severely limits your options. Users can only produce what the DIY web building sites have created commands for. Anything else is out of the question.
On the other hand, professional web developers can tap into a nearly limitless reserve of coding functions, processes, and commands that create websites from scratch. Any layout, graphic, typography, and interface opens up, so long as it’s possible, and the agency you hire can pull it off.
It might seem like a difference that doesn’t matter in the long run, but when you consider that professional coders have built everything from video games that look like real-life to apps we use every single day, it’s easy to see why drag-and-drop just won’t cut it if you want your brand to stand out online.