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Mentioned in the video:

In a recent live Q&A session with my Square Secrets Business™️ Students, someone asked…

“I’ve heard you say before that you don’t need to learn to code in order to build a successful web design business…

But with all these Squarespace CSS courses popping up, I feel like custom coding knowledge might soon become industry standard in order to land clients…

What do you think, Paige?”

Ready to hear what I shared with her (and all the other students on that call)? ‍♀️

Read on!

Do my web design clients care if I know how to custom code?

First thing’s first…I’m not knocking coding.

Being great at CSS is never a bad thing…the ability to write your own custom code is honestly a pretty impressive life skill.

(And you can never have too many of those!)

Yes, custom coding means you can do more complex things on your site build.

But is ‘complex’ really what your clients are dreaming about when they picture their future website?

Nope! And I’ll share why in just a minute!

But first, a little insight on what has you feeling all this coding FOMO…

The ‘Web Designer Bubble’

As web designers, we tend to live in a bit of a bubble.

And what makes up our bubble? Other designers!

Because of our endless desire to grow and improve, we naturally are going to want to surround ourselves with examples of people who already seem to have what we want!

So we follow other designers on Social Media, and Pinterest…

We read their blog posts and articles.

We join web designer Facebook groups by the handful – trying to decode the secrets to other people’s success.

And suddenly 99% of what we are consuming online is created for and by designers…and all from the designers’ perspective.

(Which you’ll learn in a moment is very different from your client’s perspective!)

Even our paid ads are screaming “you need this to be successful!!” because the creator of that sponsored content asked Facebook to serve those ads to people who were interested in…(you guessed it) web design!

So it’s impossible not to look around and think…

“Aghhh! Everyone is coding but me!!”

But the truth is is that not everyone is coding.

We just have this skewed perception of what’s happening because we live in our web designer bubble and coding happens to be trending in all the content we are consuming.

So if CSS-this and CSS-that is all we are seeing in our feeds, than it must be the new standard for excellent design, and our clients are going to expect it, right?

Not exactly.

And here’s why…

Your client does not live in that bubble.

Your client who’s a restaurant owner, or a life coach, or an author, or a yoga teacher…they do not exist in the 24/7 web design saturated bubble.

They literally have no clue whether or not you are a coding genius.

They just see your services page and portfolio and think…

Wow! This person totally ‘gets’ me and my style.”


Wow. This person doesn’t understand my needs or my industry at all.”

To them, it’s all wizardry – this website building stuff. ‍♂️

They’ve never taken a crack at Squarespace. (And if they have, they obviously gave up because they are looking to hire a pro to do it, right?)

So the fact that you can create them a gorgeous custom website that actually attracts and converts their ideal customer legit makes you some sort of developer goddess in their eyes.

Even if you didn’t use a lick of code to achieve it!

But what if once I’m hired, my client asks for something that requires custom coding?

This is not uncommon! And I give my honest answers to that question in this post/video.

What your web design clients are really asking for…

So obviously, your dream clients are searching for good looking websites.

There’s no question about that.

But there are so many other factors that go into you being their #1 pick…

You also need to:

✓ Understand your dream client’s specific industry and the unique hurdles they face (including which third party tools and integrations they’ll need on their website so it does what they need it to do)

✓ Be able to speak to a very specific person (your dream client) with your own website copy (A.K.A your website words) and your business’ overall messaging

✓ Get potential clients dreaming of what it would be like to say ‘yes’ to working with you, by showing examples of other people just like them that you’ve been able to help (through a strategically designed portfolio, client-winning testimonials, and transformational story-telling)

✓ Take any existing branding your client has and create a pleasing, cohesive design and layout, but with actual sales strategy and buyer psychology in mind.

I’ve seen ridiculously complex custom websites with #allthecoding that manage to cover exactly zero of these important bases.

So many designers skip over the foundations in their hurry to get to the sexy-sounding stuff.

But no amount of fancy dancing buttons or magical CSS’d fonts can make up for the foundational skills many designers lack, and they will always stay small and struggling without them.

So if you are currently struggling to land clients, rather than get in a panic and think you have to rush out and learn 7 new coding languages to start seeing inquiries, you might want to invest the time and resources needed to nail those foundational skills first!

The real reason I preach not needing to learn custom coding as a web designer

The real reason you’ll hear me say this on repeat is not some sort of passionate dislike for CSS.

I am legit blown away by the talented ladies out there who have made learning and offering custom coding their ‘thing!’

But I’m just doing my best to bust the myth that you need to learn to code in order to set up a hella-successful design business!

This myth makes it feel impossible for newbie designers without prior design experience to get started, when in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

I’ve witnessed first hand – through my own story, and the stories of 3,000+ past Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ students – how it’s possible to come from a completely unrelated background…

And build a fully booked-out web design business that blows your 9-5 income out of the water!

And those people – the ones stuck believing the lie that this work-from-wherever dream is not possible for them because they don’t have any past coding or design experience – are the people I’m speaking to when I say this on repeat!

So if I sound like a broken record about this whole CSS business, it’s because I’m taking a page from my own book, and speaking directly to my ideal audience about the exact fears they find themselves facing.

Can learning to code be beneficial?

Absolutely! If you love it, and you have those other designer foundations nailed, go for it!

I actually have a past student who made it her mission to become thee expert in custom coding and make Squarespace CSS her niche!

And do you know who her clients are? They are not your average business owners in need of a complete website build…they are actually other designers!

Yup! Her bread and butter clients are web designers who are looking to outsource the odd client request that does come in that isn’t possible using Squarespace’s native/built-in features!

So if learning a new language legit brings you joy, then absolutely CSS would be a fun new way to add value to your web design packages and potentially team up with other designers who aren’t looking to specialize themselves!

The truth about designers who ‘code’

Writing custom code is a highly specialized skill, so most designers you see out there touting CSS on their Squarespace websites are usually just reaching for pre-made snippets or plugins they’ve either purchased or found in a free tutorial.

(Me included! )

So it can def be fun and v. useful to have a little library of your fav go-to CSS snippets on hand!

I recently did a round-up series on the blog of over 70 free Squarespace CSS snippets that you can help yourself to!

But I still highly recommend reading this blog post, “Should I use code on my client’s Squarespace site?” before going too crazy with the copy-and-paste CSS.

So the myth that ‘everybody is coding these days’ is just that…a myth!

Truly learning to write custom code literally requires you learning a new language!

(Which, again, could be a fun challenge if that’s your jam!)

But in order for the time-consuming nature of custom CSS and coding to really start being outweighed by the extra you can charge for that service, you’d need to become pretty quick at rattling off all those lines of complex code off the top of your head!

I personally loved being able to complete an entire web design project from start to finish in just two weeks!

So I made it a priority to save myself major time and learn the secret hacks and workarounds that make the site look and feel like you’ve done a bunch of fancy coding…

(When really it was all done quickly and easily using the platform’s built-in settings!)

My clients loved it…

Because they had this super custom looking site, but without the stress and added expense of having to pay me in the future to update it if the code broke or they wanted to do something as simple as swap out a bit of content.

They could easily update and maintain their own site using Squarespace’s simple user interface.

I, as the designer loved it…

Because it it meant I could fully hand over the finished design, knowing that that client wouldn’t be contacting me with a coding emergency while I was busy trying to be fully present with another client, (or you know…sipping frozen margs on a beach somewhere. )

And now my Square Secrets Student’s love it!

Because they are finally learning the secrets to getting those gorgeous custom designs they are picturing out of their head and onto the actual page, without having to figure out how to code it into existence!




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Web design is changing…is fancy custom coding the new industry standard?