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It may feel like HTML and CSS are old hat - HTML is almost 30 years old. Like the Earth though, these coding languages are the bedrock for websites and online design.

There's a reliance on these languages. Yet, a quarter of SMEs report that they do not have basic digital skills. This skill gap remains despite a positive link between digital skill levels and turnover growth. If a member of your team understands HTML and CSS, your business can:

  • Manage and optimise basic website pages without having to pay a developer
  • Be responsive to your target audiences withsimple email marketing
  • Develop a better understanding of graphic design to improve menus and templates
  • Customise an “out of the box” website from sites like Wordpress or Squarespace.

Basic coding is now taught in schools to future-proof the UK. Uptake on accredited assessments is low though - only 28%. Filling this gap needs to start now. With budgets tight and staffing stretched, why are HTML and CSS essential to growing SMEs? Here's four reasons:

Don't settle for cookie cutter websites - do better and increase sales by training staff in HTML & CSS.
1. Stand out from the crowd with your visual identity

According to, almost half of survey respondents cited a website’s visual design as the #1 factor in assessing a business’ credibility.

Your business may be using an out of the box website. You’ve scrolled through templates, settled for a look, and remained functional. The cost is you lose your brand identity.

As an example, Squarespace is currently used by approximately 1.7 million websites. Despite the platform’s growing templates, each design supports an average of about 28,000 websites.

Basic web development means you no longer need to compromise. With HTML and CSS in your business you can carve out your own visual niche. You can go further and build a consistent look across your brand through email campaigns. You can make colour changes, move around template blocks, and distinguish your look.

2. Complete simple jobs without the cost

Once templates and websites have are designed, they will need updating. A sudden change in circumstances or market may mean you need to communicate new information. Whether it's:

  • Updating email templates
  • Changing product images
  • Matching colours to an awareness event.

These changes may involve hiring a freelance web developer or risk not happening at all. The number of SMEs with debt more than doubled during the pandemic. Having to hire in extra talent for quick changes may feel hard to justify. This may put you at risk of losing crucial and timely comms with your customers.

By growing the skills within your team, you can begin to build this activity into your regular communications plan. You'll also have the talent onsite to make changes ad hoc.

Upskilling your staff is a great way to improve employee wellbeing and your staff retention rates
3. Improve your staff’s wellbeing and retain your talent

By opening out this skill to your team you also support individuals. According to the NHS, learning a new skill is a great step to improving mental health and wellbeing.

Learning HTML and CSS gives your employees a high-growth skill. They can start applying it straight away and see the change they're making. Upskilling also shows your desire to support their improvement. 70% of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave because they see no future advancement in the current job.

Visible staff growth doesn’t go unrewarded and could lead to more driven and ambitious talent joining. Lifetime learning also boosts confidence to learn other business skills. Given HTML and CSS are cross industry skills, you can support your staff to take their next promotion step.

4. You’ll see changes fast

Learning basic web development is also fast. A unit of web development could take in as little as three months to complete. Once this learning is in place it can benefit your business immediately.

Post-pandemic business growth and SME debt has increased. Monthly debt repayments will affect profitability. This leaves less income available for investment. Through rapid learning, investment in high growth skills doesn't have to drain resources.

How can you bring HTML and CSS to your enterprise?

South Bank Innovation offers London's employees access to a variety of fully-funded digital skills. For HTML and CSS, we recommend:

Level 2: Introduction to Web Design and Development

This free online learning opportunity is open to employees living or working in London. It develops understanding of the role HTML and CSS play in modern workflows. It also explores the options available in website builders.

Level 5: Unit in Introduction to Web Development

One funded unit of a post A-Level course. After a grounding in HTML and CSS, applicants will start building their own websites. Participants will also receive career-coaching sessions alongside.

To be eligible participants must be:
  • 18+
  • Earning below the London Living Wage
  • Not yet have a Level 4 (post A-Level) qualification
  • Neither course requires previous knowledge of HTML and CSS.

SBI also offers other digital training opportunities such as:

  • Cyber Security
  • Digital Marketing
  • Big Data

If you'd like to learn more about our training programmes, you can email to discuss your individual skills gaps with tailored support.


  1. BBC News (2016)
  2. Blue Corona (N.D.)
  3. Sanchez Olvera (2019)
  4. Bank of England (2021)
  5. NHS (2019)
  6. Bonusly (N.D.)
  7. Unsplash: Images courtesy of Alexander Sinn, Airfocus, and Noah Näf.
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