HTML, CSS & JavaScript - How to use them in web development

HTML, CSS & JavaScript - How to use them in web development

Understanding JavaScript, CSS, and HTML can empower you to create an exciting online presence that engages your audience's attention across eCommerce, social media, and more.

Not too long ago, websites were little more than static virtual storefronts. Today, they serve a stunning variety of highly dynamic online engagements. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are three of the fundamental building blocks of modern websites. In this article, we highlight the value of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for web developers, discussing the main functions and best practices around these technologies.

So, let’s dive into these three powerful tools for web development and design.

What Is HTML?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is the standard markup language used to create and design websites and web applications.

Note: A markup language is defined as a text-encoding system where symbols are used in a text document to control its structure, formatting, or relationship between its parts.

HTML provides a structure for content on the internet. It defines the layout, formatting and the relationship between different parts on a page. It allows you to structure the web page into elements like headings, sections, paragraphs, and navigation bars.

HTML creates a frame in which elements such as text, images, videos, and interactive elements all link together. But, HTML alone doesn't handle the presentation or interactivity of the site.

Let's think of your website as a car. HTML creates the chassis, engine bracket, and body frame of the car – although these are important, together it does not create a complete vehicle.

What Is CSS?

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is universally embraced to implement modern web pages in a visually appealing way. It is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation and layout of HTML documents.

Note: A style sheet language is a computer language that expresses the presentation of structured documents.

CSS works hand in hand with HTML. When an HTML document is rendered it is typically boring and uninspiring. Enter CSS to add beauty and style!

Thinking of the car metaphor again, CSS delivers a sleek paint job, chrome detailing, custom wheels, lights, leather and other stylish finishes.

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a high-level, interpreted programming language that adds interactivity and dynamic behaviour to websites. It is one of the core programming languages of web development.

A web page coder and developer will very often use JavaScript alongside HTML and CSS. The scripting language works well with CSS in formatting HTML elements.

Returning to our car analogy, JavaScript provides the engine and onboard interactivity such as the user-friendly bells and whistles on the car.

JavaScript is a true programming language that follows programming logic and is comparatively complex. JavaScript will likely take longer to master than CSS and HTML, but once learned it’s a very powerful tool in the web developer’s toolkit.

At Ryde, our award-winning web design and development company, we understand how aesthetics and performance can be combined into the perfect vehicle for our client's needs. That’s why we efficiently use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript together to bring your website vision to life! Let’s dive deeper into how each of the three can be used in web development.

Practical Applications Of HTML, CSS, And JavaScript

HTML functional application

HTML's foremost function is to provide information on the web page in an organised manner.

To do this HTML uses a series of tags to define the structure and semantics of the content. This lets web browsers interpret and display the page correctly.

In HTML, tags are represented by angle brackets (< and >), which enclose content.

These tags are organised in a hierarchical manner to form a tree-like structure known as the Document Object Model (DOM).

Common tags that define the main elements are:

  • html - The root element
  • head - Document head
  • title - Page title
  • body - Page's content
  • h1 - Section heading
  • p - Paragraph
  • a - Anchor tag to create link
  • img - An image

You can see from the above how a basic structure takes shape.

As mentioned, HTML also defines the relationship between parts and links various elements together. HTML uses attributes to provide additional information about an element and modify its behaviour or appearance. For example, an attribute may be included in the image element <img>to show the path to the image.

CSS application

Once the basic HTML is rendered you will want to enhance its dull black-and-white look, default font style and basic navigation.

CSS allows web developers to control the pages by defining how elements should be displayed.

The primary CSS functionalities are selectors, properties, and styles.

Selectors: CSS uses selectors to 'select' the elements to style. Selectors can be based on element names, class names, IDs, and attributes.

Properties: CSS properties are style rules that define the aspects being styled. Common properties are colour, font size, background colour, margin, and padding.

Values: The style being applied. For example, the 'colour' property might have the value 'blue'.

This is broadly how CSS modifies the style, colour, positioning, layout, and navigation to make the website more engaging and appealing.

Developers and web designers are able to separate the content from its presentation. This makes it easier to maintain and update the website design without altering the underlying HTML code.

JavaScript code application

Whenever you see a click-to-show dropdown menu or additional content added to a page, or when Google proposes search terms after you've typed a few letters, it's likely thanks to JavaScript.

JavaScript is executed by web browsers and allows developers to manipulate the content of web pages, respond to user actions, and interact with web servers. In this way, we create dynamic and interactive experiences for users.

Briefly, JavaScript serves the client-side (user) interface as follows:

  • It runs on the user's web browser. All leading web browsers have a dedicated JavaScript engine to execute the code on the user's device.
  • JavaScript code is typically embedded directly into HTML pages.
  • When a user opens a web page that contains JavaScript code, the browser reads and interprets the JavaScript instructions directly on the user's device.
  • JavaScript is designed to respond to events triggered by users such as clicks, form input, page navigation, keystrokes, or by the browser itself (e.g., page load, timer expiration).
  • It interacts with the DOM and CSS to update the web page and create an ongoing dynamic user experience.

Best Practices

Still with us? Now we’ve put together some useful practices to follow:

  • Optimise assets like images, CSS, and JavaScript to reduce loading times
  • Test your pages on different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) to ensure consistent behaviour and appearance
  • Robust security should include using HTTPS to secure data transmission


  • Keep the markup clean and organised
  • Optimise for SEO
  • Use CSS for styling rather than HTML's inline styles


  • Use external files to separate styles from HTML to make maintenance easier
  • Embrace a mobile-first approach to ensure responsiveness on different devices


  • Organise code into smaller manageable functions
  • Use comments to document complex algorithms/logic


JavaScript, CSS, and HTML are essential, widely employed web languages. If you are wondering where to start a web development project or are looking to raise your coding game, learning these technologies is invaluable and there are many online resources that can help.
If you would like guidance with a website design project, here at Ryde we offer a full website design, development, and support service. Connect with us today to find out more. 

Photo by Christina Morillo