Coretechs Developers Sound Off: Is CSS Real Development?

September 12th, 2023

A customer once told our team that they did not expect to pay for our time doing CSS updates because it was not “real development.” Little did the client know that they hit a hot debate topic. This is a very sensitive topic for the developers because it can be very polarizing.

For our first sound-off, we’re asking our team: Is CSS “real” development?

What is CSS?

Some of you might already be lost so let’s quickly cover, what is CSS? CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a programming tool used to present the visual elements of a website. If you take away the CSS on a webpage, it will look drastically different and quite frankly, terrible. 

Think of your website like a cake. The cake has the base of the flour and sugar and butter to make up the delicious cake but the top part – the part that makes us want to eat the cake – is the frosting. 

Does that frosting have some fancy sugar flowers? How about an edible picture? How about a fancy cake that is so detailed it looks like a real life car? The CSS is the frosting on the cake. It can be simple, it can be intricate but a cake without frosting – your cake isn’t very appetizing. 

So now that we know what CSS is, let’s take the question to our developers and find out what they think about it.

Is CSS real development?

Jawad, .Net Developer
Fave Cake: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

“CSS is not development because development has to have a function. The function processes the data you give it.”

Vinod, Python Developer
Fave Cake: Six Wonders Cake

“HTML and CSS describe presentation, whereas programming languages describe function.”

Both developers bring up “functionality”. They go on to explain that functionality is when data interacts with your website to create a change in behavior. Let’s use a cake website as an example. You can design your own cake and order it through an online order form. When you submit the order form, it functions in multiple ways: 

1. The order form will intake the information and save it,
2. The form will process the credit card information to charge the customer, and 
3. It will send out the appropriate notices to the customer and cake makers. 

Without these functions, the form would simply display on the page without performing any purpose.  Think of the word “function” as the base of your cake. Just like you shouldn’t eat raw eggs and flour, when you put it in the oven you make it an edible dessert. 

Backend developers tend to agree – without the foundation of the form saving, processing the payment and notifying the correct parties, we have no cake.

Front-End Developers Say

Taylor, UI/UX Developer
Fave Cake: Cheesecake

“CSS is development because it takes critical thinking. If it wasn’t real development, every developer would be able to use it in their toolbox. When we work with css, we’re writing code that drives user-decisions and that’s just as powerful for a website as making page content change on command.”

Cameron, Full Stack Developer
Fave Cake: German Chocolate Cake

“CSS is development and is one of many tools UI/UX designers must use to create websites and web-apps. Implementation takes critical thinking and often multi-disciplinary skills.”

When CSS was first introduced in the 90s, it did very little. That is why the websites then were very simple and to the point – they were predominantly used for information. These days, we use CSS to do A LOT more than just make a website pretty! 

CSS is used by front-end developers to create and drive the actions that customers take on websites. Good CSS is a powerful tool that works with User Experience psychology to encourage users to take actions and deliver results. 

Not only will your cake website look good to an interested audience, but it can convince customers to order the cake with extra add-ons, faster service, and a delivery fee.

Is CSS Required for a Website?

This time you decide – here’s Carlo’s Bakery, a real-life cake ordering website. Use the slider below to see the website before and after CSS.

Do you see how much the CSS impacts the site? Here are some of the ways a developer might adjust CSS to make the site more usable: 

  • The pictures are placed with purpose
  • The font, color, and weights are used to direct your attention 
  • Placement and style of buttons like “Start Your Order” are meant to help you take action
  • Pop-ups are placed to help you chat with a consultant. 

Users digest the content so quickly, it can be difficult to fathom that the smallest detail was well thought out, planned and executed. But take all of that away and see what you have left: plain content that does not make sense to the user.

Implementing CSS takes skill and knowledge of user behaviors. We use CSS in every single project. We don’t use .Net or Python in all our projects, but CSS is like frosting for our eyes! 

In the end, our team does not care how you classify CSS work. We know its value and the important role it will play when selling your service or products to your customers. How a website is presented matters to our clients and it matters to us. 

We know how to build cool functionality but if it looks gross, who wants to use it? 

Written By: Susan Boteler
Fave Cake: Pink Champagne Cake