Levels of HTML knowledge

Inspired by Emil Stenström’s Levels of CSS knowledge, I started thinking about the extreme difference in HTML knowledge among people working in the web industry. It spans all the way from people who know next to nothing about it to those who know it well enough to write the actual HTML specifications.

I thought I’d describe a few different levels of HTML knowledge. For some people, these levels are stages that they pass while learning more and more about HTML, gradually understanding concepts such as web standards, semantics, and accessibility. Others are at a certain level because it matches their attitude towards HTML and coding in general. Many people never advance beyond the first few levels. For some that is just fine, while for others it is not.

This is all written in a tongue-in-cheek way and is just my personal opinion. Please don’t over-react if you don’t agree or think some of the descriptions are a bit harsh. Try laughing instead.

The levels then:

HTML Level 0

People at this level have never seen HTML except by mistake, like when accidentally opening an HTML email in text mode. These people do not work in the web industry and never will, so they have no wish or reason to move beyond Level 0. They are included in this article to provide a kind of bottom line.

Typical quote:


HTML Level 1

These people use the web enough to know that some kind computer programming magic is going on behind the scenes of the websites they use. When trying to publish anything on the Web, they are helpless without a WYSIWYG editor of some kind. It could be Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or the editor built into the CMS they have been told to use.

People keeping a website’s content up to date can often be found at this skill level, and some argue that there should be no need for them to move to a higher level. A lot of visually oriented designers are firmly stuck here by choice, often defending that choice by saying that “Nobody in the print world edits PostScript code by hand, so why should the web be any different?” Many web project managers unfortunately fail to progress beyond Level 1.

Typical quote:

HTML? It’s those tags you use to make text bold or italic.

HTML Level 2

This level contains people who know enough about HTML to be able to find their way around an HTML document as long as they stick to the few tags (everything is called a tag at this level) they recognise. They don’t really want to touch the HTML though.

Many Level 2 people are back-end programmers who prefer the safety of Visual Studio or whatever IDE they are using. They think HTML is too simple for them to bother with and that applications should be smart enough to handle it all for them. Level 2 developers seem very popular with CMS vendors.

Typical quote:

The controls I drag and drop in my IDE work fine in Internet Explorer, so why should I have to even look at the HTML?

HTML Level 3

A lot of old school web developers who have been in the business since the late nineties can be found at this level. Up until the end of last century these people coded HTML by hand, so they know all about nested tables and spacer GIFs. Since then, WYSIWYG editors like GoLive and Dreamweaver have improved to the point where Level 3 people see no reason to learn more about HTML. These days most of their HTML-related work is done in their editor’s design view anyway, so they would rather spend their time learning a specific application instead of finding out more about what is going on behind the scenes.

Typical quote:

Yeah yeah, I’ve heard about those fancy new ul and h1 tags, but I’m doing just fine with my trusty old table, img, and br tags.

HTML Level 4

This level is where people start intentionally using doctypes. The first step is almost always a transitional doctype, often XHTML 1.0 Transitional. XHTML is more recent than HTML after all, so it’s got to be better, right? People at this level are also the biggest fans of XHTML 1.1, since they think a higher version number has to be better.

After hearing from someone that you shouldn’t use tables for layout, a lot of Level 4 people use div elements to recreate a table-like structure. This of course leads to tag soup being replaced by div mania, and a lot of presentational markup, classitis, and inline CSS are produced by people at this level.

Most web developers who have reached Level 4 are willing to keep learning, and they understand that there are advantages to the methods being promoted by web standards oriented blogs and books. But they haven’t yet grasped why those methods are better.

Typical quote:

How can I create a data table with divs and spans instead of tables?

HTML Level 5

Most standards aware web professionals can be found here. These people tend to think about structure and semantics first and presentation later. Strict doctypes are generally used at this level to encourage the separation of semantic and presentational markup. Whether the markup language is HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.0 is less important to many. In fact, some people at Level 5 are questioning the use of XHTML. Level 5 people tend to get into endless discussions about tiny markup details. They can waste hours thinking about class names or reorganising their HTML and CSS files to make their code look pretty.

If you have reached this level I think you’re doing extremely well. For most people there is no compelling reason to move beyond this Level 5.

Typical quote:

Hmm. I wonder which type of list is the most semantic way to mark up this part of my document.

HTML Level 6

These people are the thinkers of the industry. They spend a lot of time contemplating what will be useful in the future instead of right here and now. The results of much of their work will probably not be of any practical use to the average web professional for at least another five years.

At Level 6 you may have moved beyond actually building websites for a living. Instead you may be concentrating on writing future specifications or interpreting existing ones for browser vendors.

Typical quote:

I think the HTML 4.01 and XHTML 2 specs are too semantically limited, so I am working on a new markup language.

Finding the right level

It isn’t necessary for everybody to reach HTML Level 6. I consider myself a Level 5 person, and I’m quite happy reading the specs instead of writing them so I don’t really feel like I need to reach Level 6. People whose task is to keep a website’s content up-to-date can even get by at Level 1, provided that their CMS is good enough. It all depends on your needs.

What does not, however, is your attitude towards HTML. Even if you don’t need or want to learn all there is about HTML, you have to acknowledge that it is the most important language on the web.

What level of HTML knowledge are you at, and what level are you aiming for?


This article has been translated into the following languages:

Posted on May 30, 2006 in (X)HTML


  1. I’m aiming for Level 0, but I just can’t away from the stuff right now…. arghh. Anyone got any tips?

  2. I feel that the quote in level 6 belongs to the level 3-4 people ;) HTML being semantically limited makes sense, and inventing new markup languages - doesn’t (most often). Now, does this bring me from level 5 to level 6?

  3. Hehe, nice specifications… I’d think I’m somewhere around 4 and 5. ^^

  4. I guess I’m a Level 5 who feels no need to advance to Level 6 :)

  5. I’m a Level 5 who making a concerted effort to never become a Level 6!

  6. Maybe it’s more appropriate to say: “These people are the philosophers of the industry” for Level 6. It’s not as if Levels 4 and 5 don’t think, they just think on the practical level. The level that most of us need to get to. If we were all Level 6, I’d bet there would be a whole lot of mess in the industry.

    I really don’t know many Level 0’s. Everybody seems to be aware of HTML, even me mum. She just thinks that it’s the sort of “highfalutin computer nonsense to be left to the nerds”, like her son.

  7. I think I’m sitting prettily at level 5 - and my goal is to stay there! I don’t think I want to move into level 7 (my head hurts!) but I definitely don’t want to slide down the slippery slope to level three 5 years from now…

  8. Level 5, and very happy to stay here for a long time.

  9. Level 5, and occasionally wishing I’d stuck at 3. Ignorance is bliss, and now I can barely look at most code without being disgusted and annoyed.

  10. Nice one Roger.

    Personally i have to question myself honestly, and in which case i’m at that level. I try to be at level 5, and i understand many theories of level 5, and i can build them that way. But due to time limits and customers who want eyecandy and care less about people with disabilities the working flow for me will be between level 4 and 5. Although my aim will be level 5. For level 6 i do not have the time and stamina, but luckily there are others who are.

  11. I’d say I’m at level 5.01 who thinks about level 6 stuff on occasion.

    I’m torn on the use of semantic class names. My class names tend to be a mix of semantic and presentational names. It’s easier to remember .b when you want bold text (but not strong or emphasized text). But my ID names tend to be semantic.

    I also take advantage of selector syntax and inheritance rules so that I don’t have to use as many classes.

  12. I think I am at level 5, but I prefer not to get into those endless discussions about semantics and tiny details. Slightly more limited discussions are more my style…

    Sometimes I find myself involved at level 6, but I won’t be writing a new markup language anytime soon :-)

  13. Ya know, I was just thinking today “would this be better as an ordered or unordered list?”

    Level 5, with no desire to go anywhere.

  14. I think I’m in a comfortable spot between level 5 and 6. The quote in level 5 is something that’s on my mind a lot when coding a website. Because of this question, I also tend to think about new elements that could be added to the language. I’m just not the person to write the docs. Hixie probably does a better job with XHTML5 ;)

  15. I think there is a WIDE gap between a 4 and 5. I know to stay away from div soup, but don’t care much about obsessing about the tiny details of dd’s, ul’s & ol’s.

  16. And, why is reorganising HTML and CSS files to make code look pretty wasting hours? especially, if it’s semantically pretty.

  17. May 30, 2006 by zcorpan

    tiffany wrote:

    It’s easier to remember .b when you want bold text (but not strong or emphasized text).

    You know HTML has a <b> element for “bold text”, right?

    Anyway, I write test cases and submit bugs to browser vendors and contribute to HTML5. That makes me level 6. Yay!

  18. I really think “dt” elements should have a “for” attribute so that you can associate it with the appropriate “dd” element. What does that make me?

  19. lvl 5 with no want/care to level up either.

  20. I’d say I’m a level 4, shooting for level 5. Only thing is I wish is I would have starting learning HTML and CSS when I was younger. I love this stuff!

  21. Square on level 5.. most of my daydreaming and specs wishes are for CSS rather than html.

    Luckily I haven’t been in the industry long enough to get stuck at level 3 for very long before i was at 4, i guess I made it to level 5 around 14-18 months ago.

  22. Apparently I’m at level 6.66 - the sort of pedantic sot who feels the need to remind people that using elements is very bad form - something like is the semantic way of doing things…

    Or does that make me a rather annoying 5?

  23. Delicious.

  24. I’d now I beleve I’ve been demoted to Level -1 - Those Who Can’t Figure Out Blog Comment Systems. - there was supposed to be a “b” and a “strong” in there.

  25. I’m at level 5 and there’s absolutely no need to proceed to level 6 ;)

    Hmm. I wonder which type of list is the most semantic way to mark up this part of my document.

    Yeah… Should I do it with a h3 followed by a ul or should I do it with a dl?

  26. I’m definitely at a level 5. I started back in ‘94, took about 6 years off after ‘98, and it took a while to adjust to the new way of doing things. I’m so glad too. All the ideas for sites I had back then are now possible.

  27. May 30, 2006 by zcorpan

    Aaron wrote:

    I really think “dt” elements should have a “for” attribute so that you can associate it with the appropriate “dd” element. What does that make me?

    It makes you someone who hasn’t read the specs I guess. :-) <dt> elements are already unambiguously associated with the appropriate <dd> elements.

  28. Wow, everyones a Level 5!

    I would try and guess what level I am at, but frankly, a lot of the attributes described at various levels fit me. I love my Dreamweaver, though I hand code almost everything in it. I routinely call elements tags, but semantics and structure are my first thoughts when building a page. And I actually attempt to support IE, so Im sure that knocks down my uber-coder level down a bit from a Level 5 mage to a Level 2 Druid-squire, or whatever other ultra-nerd terminology that fits.

    BTW, what level is this quote: “How do I add an image to MySpace? Is it Greater-Than IMAGE equals photobucket.com then the image Less-Than?”

  29. I love the typical quote for Level 5. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve sat and considered that. The old unordered versus ordered chesnut is one of those ‘the more you think about it, the harder it becomes to see the answer’ problems :)

    Whilst I don’t think I ever want to hit Level 6, though some healthy criticism of the specs never goes astray. Once you start sensibly thinking about what’s right wrong with the specs, you’re able to properly consider why certain things are the way they are, and by extension to explain them to others. Of all the web developers out there, how many can explain why the class attribute (as an example) should be used just as semantically as the rest of the mark-up (and I don’t mean ‘because grey1 looks nasty as a class-name’)?

  30. I’ve actually had a web design teacher who was somewhere between lvl 0 and lvl 1. Half way into the school year he read a book written by someone who had read w3c guidelines and misinterpreted them, and then our teacher misinterpreted the misinterpretations… He also gave us a CSS assignment on our last test, despite never actually having taught us anything on the topic.

    I do agree there’s a gap between lvl 4 and 5 since there are people who doesn’t use XHTML 1.1 for coolness or divs+spans for tabular data, and still isn’t on the whole structure/presentation/behaviour separation philosophy… Mostly people who more or less do the right thing, but doesn’t take enough interest in the discussion of which element is more appropriate for every tiny little situation.

  31. I’m at level 5, sometimes level 6.

  32. tag soup being replaced by div mania

    I haven’t heard the expression div mania before but I like it. I think a few people around my office suffer from this syndrome.

  33. Level 5 people tend to get into endless discussions about tiny markup details. They can waste hours thinking about class names or reorganising their HTML and CSS files to make their code look pretty.

    Thats me, allright! I can’t say for sure wheather or not its a good thing. Not a very efficient way to spend time at least. However, I’ve got no wishes to go beyond this level. No practical use for me, I design web sites - I don’t make markup languages.

    And there are some people in between 4 and 5. Level 4,5?

  34. May 31, 2006 by Scott

    I’m somewhere between 4 and 5. I avoid transitional doctypes like the plague, and go with XHTML over HTML because I think XHTML is future-proof. Where possible I validate to XHTML 1.1 to be extra future-proof. I know that table-based layouts are bad and sincerely want to build CSS-based layouts, but if I don’t go with somebody’s pre-existing CSS template nothing turns out right and I get very angry. I like to spend time cleaning up my code, but don’t like to spend time thinking about what’s more appropriate.

    I’m starting to get a handle on how positioning works, but all of my from-scratch implementations have serious cross-browser issues. Sometimes the problem lies with IE, but sometimes it lies with Firefox. IMHO there’s not enough resources available for people stuck between 4 and 5. I know the difference between good and bad, but need help getting good to look good.

  35. I like these “levels” things… not that they really matter or anything but it gives me a way to gauge where I fall on the charts. It means more coming from sources like this - on accounta how I look up to y’all ‘n everything ;)

    I’d put myself at around 4.5 - I understand much of the semantics side of things and have a pretty good idea of when to use what. Unfortunately (?) I’m a very presentationally-oriented (there’s a phrase) designer. So I end up making my layout in Photoshop and then spending hours trying desperately trying to take my layout and make it semantic and pretty. Like right now, I’m trying to do a worn (ala Cameron) layout with fluid goodness… What I’ve got isn’t tag soup but there’s a whole lot of divs in there to do the fluid backgrounds and wrappers.

    4.5 with occasional lapses in judgement.

  36. Digging-up old posts eh Roger? You’ve had this one before…(it’s good for a laugh though!)

    Between 4 and 5 (and no longing to be 6!) ;)

  37. I’d have to be close to level 6. While I still spend a lot of time building sites, I actively participate in writing the specs for HTML 5 and XHTML 2.

  38. @Scott: XHTML is not “future-proof”. XHTML 2 will incompatible with 1.1. Besides, if you’re serving your (X)HTML with a meta content-type of text/html, then the browser is interpretting your (X)HTML as HTML anyhow, so using XHTML is, in my humble opinion, about as close to useless as possible. I agree with the concept of XHTML, but unless you need to embed MathML in your pages or something like that, HTML 4.01 Strict is about as uber-cool as you get :) I’m at level 5, I guess, but sometimes I wish I were level -1: “the intar-what?”. Good article. Thanks :)

    PS good on ya for the html doctype :)

  39. Level 4 is an all too spooky description of where I think I’m at, although that almost certainly makes me L3! The XHTML 1.0 Transitional bit especially rings true. Quite happy to stay where I am, but keeep learning and understand where that is. Wow that’s deep for a Wednesday :)

  40. Yep, I’m a 5 too.

  41. Nice article Roger. I nearly didn’t read it as it looked from the title like a rehash of the old levels stuff - nicely surprised though.

    I’m at level 5 I guess but feel like an imposter. There are so many brilliant people out there nowdays working on HTML and CSS that I wonder at my own ordinariness…

  42. I’m a level 5 for sure, and I have a list of philosophical criticisms of the nature of (X)HTML, CSS, and JS. I suppose that makes me a lazy level 6?

  43. I think what bothers me about Level 1 is they generally don’t know anything about semantics either; which means you can’t give them the average WYSIWYG interface and expect decent output. They need to be taught a very small level of semantics to get that bit right; alternatively the WYSIWYG has to be locked down tight as hell to ensure they can’t stuff it all up.

    The real stumble is the average WYSIWYG is not locked down much at all, and happily spits out font tags, b, i, etc…

  44. You forgot about the most potent IDE of all for Level 1 folks: Microsoft Word!

    I’ve had the great misfortune of spending quite a bit of time attempting to reconcile the …quality code… that comes out of our favorite word processo—I mean HTML editor.

  45. Definitely a level 5, with no plans of fully reaching level 6 in the short term.

  46. May 31, 2006 by Tim W.

    @Allan: saying XHTML1 won’t be compatible with XHTML2 may be true, but that doesn’t mean XHTML1 isn’t future proof. You’ll allways be able to transform well-formed XHTML1 into XHTML2 as if it were XML. Now try that with HTML 4.01 ;-)

  47. May 31, 2006 by andrew

    level 5 wishing i was a level 0. i remember when i didn’t care about ADDRESS or TBODY tags.. oh the good ole days

  48. Fanatically 5 + proud of it!

  49. May 31, 2006 by Daniel Stockman

    Oy, I’m a level 5 who has to wash his eyes out with WaSP-soap after compulsively hitting Cmd+Shift+V (or Ctrl+Shift+U when trapped on Windoze) on a site whose visual design piques his interest, only to be cruelly taunted by level two-and-three-fifths WYSIWYG cowboys and their spaghetti westerns or the occasional elder 0.78 who can’t (or won’t) understand why Word-bastardized “HTML” doesn’t look right in anything (even Lookout![Viruses!] 2K3)…

    Whoops, that was a run-on. Yes, far too lazy to level up (or give up this curmudgeon gig ;D). Good post.

  50. Definitely 5.X. The most frequent question I make to myself, and my fellow coders is: “What do you mean, wanting that text bold?”

  51. 5.X? Sounds like a SAAB … ;) Must be the one that looks like a C130 Hercules :P

  52. May 31, 2006 by Eystein Alnæs

    I agree with #49. Sometimes even to be scared away by tables. The horror! lol
    I think I’m a 5- opting for a 5+.. BTW - I noticed nobody had dugg the story, so I added it to digg myself.

  53. I’m somewhere in L5. I’m not trying to be level 6. Perhaps I will have the knowlegde for it one day, but not the writing skills to put it on paper .

    I like the term divmania, kinda reminds of a Iweb pagesource ..the horror.

  54. Interesting list, but the answer to your question at the end felt a bit obvious since most regulars here probably are at level 5 (or wouldn’t dare to admit any lower number). I feel it could be several levels between 5 and 6.

  55. Well, im somewhere in level 5 too :)

    Good list

  56. May 31, 2006 by Markus

    I think I’m something of a blend between 4 and 5. I hang on IRC a lot, among other channels a HTML channel, for a small swedish forum. Lot of the users are 3-4, they get that divs are better in some way, and that they shouldn’t use tables for layout, but they haven’t grasped why, yet. That has to be, in some way, the hardest step to take, ‘cause it doesn’t just make you learn a few new tags or what does what in a HTML-page, but it demands that you start thinking more about why you’re using the tag, why are you nesting in a certain way, why are you using this tag and not the other and what’s the difference. You have to get in to a, for some people, different way of thinking. It’s not just putting a few containers here and there to get the text showing or being in a certain style.

    I feel that the people at level 4 are the ones that are striving to be better, to get to learn everything a little bit more. They feel that they’ve learned quite a lot, but not enough, and often they feel that there’s people that are a lot better, and they want to be like them. Probably the only level that really, really wants to get better.

  57. I think I’m a level 5, but a year ago I was a level 4. When you start learning this stuff it’s easy to get carried away. It takes time to gain back a sense of reality I guess.

    Level 2 developers seem very popular with CMS vendors.

    That’s funny.. I work on a CMS and my managers are definitely Level 2.

  58. An addition to my post:

    The choice i make between tables, css, div layouts depends solely on what the intention of the site should be.

    Sometimes tables are a good idea, sometimes div’s and sometimes pure css. That is seen from my own practical point of view. My own site i builded in 1 day and uses mainly tables. Why? -> why not?. The main idea was to present a quick sketch of what i do. It is also not optimized for SE’s because every client i ever got in 7 years was always from reference. (even with SE-ized sites i previously had). So i won’t see any reason why i should build it otherwise.

    Take a look at E-bay for instance, are they accessible? still “tagsoup galore”.

    The people who build e-bay should be on level 3-4 ?


    Think there is more to explore, and to question oneself the neccesity and use of building it always the level 5 way?

  59. I’m firmly at level 5, having worked for my previous and present employers to xhtml strict and transitional doctypes respectively, its now hard for me to code any other way.

    Having said that, I sometimes have to do templates for our marketing people to use in Microsoft Frontpage - what a joyous tool it is. In these cases I recommend going all schizophrenic and becoming a level 0 (or maybe even a -1) for a while - otherwise you’ll make yourself feel sick.

    Level 6 would make my head hurt!

  60. May 31, 2006 by Matthew Pettitt

    I’m probably a level 4.5. I have been guilty of div mania in the past, but the only times I’ve used divs/span to do table like layouts is when using some weird forms that I couldn’t make fit validly into a table. Honest!

  61. I’m a 5th level Ranger. I don’t have enough experience points to get to 6th level yet, but I did find a cloak of elvenkind on my last adventure. ;-)

  62. I think I’m mostly at Level 5, though some small part of me still has one of its legs remaining on level 4. Trying to get rid of this part though ;) It’s just so easy to start thinking too much about the visuals. I guess I’m too easily seducted by eye candy!

  63. Great list, very wel put. I’m a level 5.

  64. I’m about a 4.5 or maybe a 5 at a strech. I look admiringly at those who’re a 6 and a solid 5 though.

  65. Between 4 and 5 here. While I look for UI aesthetics (always), I make sure that my code is clean and understandable.

    I am still on four mainly because I tend to use div tags a lot… I don’t think is a bad thing when you really have a need for a div, but I am surely against it when you, for instance, should use ‘span’, or ‘p’ … I said ‘p’ because I’ve seen people use ‘div’ to enclose a paragraph… and such behaviors make me cringe. =)

    I spend a lot of time making sure that my code looks pretty.

    The level 2 quote: “The controls I drag and drop in my IDE work fine in Internet Explorer, so why should I have to even look at the HTML?” is sooooo true.

    MS people say that VisualStudio 2005 will be less intrusive and more standards compliant oriented… I can’t wait to see that. =)

  66. Nice one! It’s really a fun read with a lot of truths in it. =)

    My guess is, that most of the readers here are about level 5 (including me… i guess ;) ). At least I they might be on the way to level 5.

    Are there any magic mushrooms with which one can skip a level? ;)

  67. May 31, 2006 by Copy paste

    Inpired on or almost copied it?

  68. Phew!!!! I rekkon I’ll b a Lvl5 once I get these ALT tags sorted!!!

    (Sorry, Roger - great article ;)

    Hmm - don’t seem to be able to use <font> on these comments - you want to get that sorted out!

    (Once again, sorry - can’t help myself!)

  69. Stuart: I almost corrected you on saying “ALT tags” before I realized you were kidding. It’s like a bad tic.

  70. May 31, 2006 by Seacrest

    Heh heh.

    Insightful atricle.

    I think I’m around a 4.5.

  71. level 4. hope to move on soon

  72. May 31, 2006 by Jeremy Wilson

    I’d say I’m a solid 5.5, with no intention of going to level 6. I think it’s pretty bad, though, that in this day and age I cringe when using a table even for tabular data. I feel ashamed, almost, as if someone will see my work and say “HAY THAT’S A TABLE THIS GUY’S A HACK!”

  73. May 31, 2006 by Richard

    I’d say I’m 4.5 as well.

    Since mid 90’s I’ve coded sites by hand, used PageMill, and GoLive. I prefer the WYSIWYG tools.

  74. I’m probably a 3.5 level. I know a bit about spans and divs and uls - but I’d rather use a table to build a table.

    My question is - where do the good web developers fit? None of these levels sound any good. Levels 5 and 6 seem too stuck on themselves to do anyone any real good. Levels 0 - 2 seem like they are too dumb to do any real good. And levels 3 and 4 sound just competitent enough to do some real damage. How about a level C for Credible? or for Content Creator. Or Clued in.

  75. May 31, 2006 by Dontwantmybosstoknow

    There’s an additional low level that I (and a number of my coworkers) are in.

    It’s skill level is somewhere around a level 2 or 3, but have never touched a GUI and probably never will. We use vi to author pages that look just as good on pre-graphic cell phones as they do on these newfangled graphic monitors; and wonder why all these other developers put in all these img tags that don’t display on our lynx browsers.

    I only with the Level5 and L6 guys realized that they too could author content that’s readable on lynx — but they don’t, instead creating pages that look like “document.write(whatever)” when I try to access them.

  76. May 31, 2006 by Improfane

    Hmm. I’m somewhat between 2-4. I use an IDE/WYSIWYG to create and edit the site. I hand edit HTML if I need something specific done. I use CSS for style and only use tables for tabular data.

  77. what percentage of the market uses “lynx” as a browser? I think you will find the answer to why most web professionsals dont cater to you.

  78. Level 5 here, with no intention of moving to level 6.

  79. I’m a number 4 for sure. I’ve even tried exactly what the quote implies. You hit the nail on the head there.

  80. Great article. It’s funny I saw myself at each level at some point in the past as I read the article. Right now I consider myself to be a 5, and although I will definitely keep up with the standards I have no intention of going to Level 6.

  81. May 31, 2006 by Greg

    I would honestly put myself somewhere between Levels 3 and 5, but not a strict 4.

    I think there are elements of all those types of thinking, owrkflow, etc. in my daily routine. There are some elements that have been working for me for so long that I see no need to change them until currentl browsers decide to no longer support them.

    Sometimes I wish that I was a pure L5, but then at the same time, sometimes I wish I was a L1. It’s almost like I am never quite good enough for myself, but customers are fine with the way I create their sites and the sites are clean and functional… I dunno, but I hate WYSIWYG editors that’s for sure.

  82. I graduated to level 4 a couple of months ago, and guess I now know enough to say I’m at level 5. There’s still room for improvement though.

  83. Level 5; just wish I could use it fully at work.

  84. Staying at a certain level can be just as much effort as moving to the next one. If your work is even a bit challenging and you’re an obsessive nut like most designers/writers/developers I know, you’ll find yourself searching the web or colleagues for a better solution. Before you know it, you’ve jumped a level.

    I’m happily existing in level 5 with an occasional slip back into 4.

  85. You forgot about the ‘Level 7’ elitists who think any form of HTML is too bound with presentation, and XHTML is just a poor patch. For them, it’s all about XML and CSS, baby!

  86. May 31, 2006 by Cody

    Level 3…Old School, Baby! I was coding by hand (the right way) before these other cheaters’ programs were released.

  87. I think it’s funny how everything thinks they’re a Level 5, just like everyone thinks they’re outgoing and likable. :)

    I’m personally a Level 3 since I didn’t feel compelled to play with CSS through the 90’s. It wasn’t until a recent project design that I did break away from tables for div’s, and even then an outside developer did most of it. I understand their formatting, I’m just not very good at it yet.

  88. Very nice writing here, I enjoyed reading it. According to your scale, I would have to say I’m somewhere near 4, as I’ve never really understood why someone would go through all the troubles to get a table-like style on a page using CSS & divs, when tables are still there.

  89. Squarely in level 4, and it seems to suit me just fine, thank you very much.

  90. Level 5 and very happy to stay here for a long time :-D

  91. lol….saddly i’m only at 3 or 4…but i’m trying to learn….so hopefully i can get up a level or twoo. :)

  92. i am at web2.0 where does that fit on this list

    (just kidding… i fit at level 5)

  93. May 31, 2006 by Miranda McKennitt-Gasiorowski FNORD

    Sorry for not using the Markdown syntax, I had no idea why not HTML and simply drowned into catatonia. This is not funny. You did make a few worthy points, but the rest is too overdone - if you are trying to be ironic, check your facts first. And grammar ;-} (that was that kind of joke - not funny).

    First, you should numer these levels the other way. Won’t get into that, though.

    I will use your nomenclature for the benefit of the reader.

    HTML LEVEL 0 - what did you expect? Ever seen a text in a language (like, say French when all you know is Chinese Mandarin) that is alien to you? It’s normal they look, feel and behave baffled. So would you…

    HTML LEVEL 1 - Postscript can be processed by scripts - like Tcl and TeX. Nobody does it by hand (often) for a reason - you can surely guess it :-}. Oh, your categories don’t make any sense. I shall stop using them except as labels for a new paragraph.

    HTML LEVEL 2 - You are making fun of people who do not exist. Go and see the generated code for modern IDE (I consider my text editor an IDE, but what I mean is something like Apple iWeb). It may be not very pretty. Go use Tidy and it will be pretty. Web daemons do not mind. They like to process markup. It’s in their nature. Really!

    HTML LEVEL 3 (or 4, I don’t mind, do you?) - You are insulting people who push the whole industry forward by making mistakes and yet still experimenting with production level code. See Google Labs. They explore. Spending an hour on a piece of CSS just to make it look neat is like gardening. There’s really nothing wrong with it and you do something useful on many levels without effort!

    HTML LEVEL WHATEVERWHENEVER (Sorry, I changed my mind, assume next in series) - XHTML is important. It is important that there are people who care and learn new things (see previous paragraph, recursion warning).

    HTML LEVEL do you know what semantic…oh…Quoth: Hmm. I wonder which type of list is the most semantic way to mark up this part of my document. I fail to see anything especially funny in this sentence. Someone help me. Hey, people down there…More power to you? So shall it it be. And there was power a-plenty for 50 microseconds, otherwise someone could take notice and be cruel by pointing out how very not stupid is { this } :-}.

    Sorry everyone - I know I’m feeding a troll, but people have to help each other, maybe next time someone will feed you (extreme pun intended for those who know why I exercised Temperance, no wrong feelings projected toward target of my creation).

    { agquarx }

  94. May 31, 2006 by nate

    wow. everyone is at level 5!

  95. May 31, 2006 by Lzygenius

    I consider myself a solid 3 but sometimes I may venture up to level 5. I would like to reach level 5 but as a kid straight out of high school who taught himself, I think I’m doing alright.

    It’s funny that I started peeking around HTML code back in elementary school so I could download songs and images on pages that prevented right-clicks, and now I can write a basic webpage from scratch using only Notepad.

    The most notorious example of a level 1 is a web design teacher who insisted that we use Frontpage and graded the class mostly on how well we could makes images in Photoshop.

  96. This one goes to 11!

    [tongue-in-cheek] - I’d like to propose that anyone 3 and under look for employment in another field!

  97. May 31, 2006 by jon

    I’d say level 4-5, I ocassionally lapse back into tables for presentation, but always end up going back to rip it out later. It’s a tough habbit to break when you’ve been doing it for 7 or 8 years.

  98. I’ve gradually progressed through these “levels” since 1994 and I guess I’m at level 5 with an occasional dip into 6. Like many it seems I sometimes wish for the carefree days of level 1 or 2 :-) Or even as Allan put it -1 “the intar-what?” 8^D

  99. This was a trip down memory lane, thanks :)

  100. I was at 4 for a long time and only just last year hit 5.

    I often fake being a 6.

  101. I guess I’m somewhere between 4 and 5. Maybe 4.7…

  102. I don’t think that Miranda McKennitt-Gasiorowski FNORD understood your article… ;)

    I would place myself solidly as a 5.5. I have a web design company and find the right tools for the right job, but spent many years as an XML developer finding better ways to markup documents in a natural fashion. Currently I’m struggling with accessible AJAX sites - all the bells and whistles that you could want with a beautiful degradation for screen readers and text browsers.

    That was a great piece - thanks very much.

  103. Level 5 seems to be my limit right now. I’d love to be able to dive into level 6 and I’ve often wondered about doing so but time, money, and will really are against me. Yeah and like any standards authority will listen to a fourteen year old ;).

  104. May 31, 2006 by Ant

    I’m at the point where I’m almost never writing HTML directly, using XSLT and stuff instead. What would that make me, 5.1? :)

  105. The higher up the chain you get, the more boring your content gets and the more your “design” looks like a pained attempt at minimalism. “HTML knowledge” to me is not the goal, although it clearly is to a lot of “designers” — it supplements more important issues.

    Also, where’s the soul? I looked at peoples’ linked web sites and didn’t find any.

  106. May 31, 2006 by sscout

    I’m level 3, occasionally interested on levels 5-6 but no way am I touching level 4, when I do HTML it’s either WYSIWYG or hand coded HTML3.0 feels old now…

  107. Nice categorization! I think a good Typical Quote for HTML Level 4 would be:

    Validation is all!

    Like those boring kids saying:

    My website validates XHTML 1.1 Strict, and yours not, la la la la…

    Makes me crazy.

  108. June 1, 2006 by Tom

    I think I’m a 4.25, I’m better than 4 but nowhere near 5. Nice article.

  109. June 1, 2006 by Bob Dole

    I’m a level 10 and I have a two-foot long dick

  110. I’m probably just before level 4. If I were to create table, I would still use tag instead of div or span, though I would really much to learn the latter.

    To make things easier, actually I used Macromedia Dreamweaver to design my website, thus, I don’t have to worry so much about HTML.

  111. Nice guidleline here :)

    Depending on what new standards are around at a certain time, I move into level 6. But mostly level 5, less work involved :).

  112. June 1, 2006 by arremmdee

    Level one. Somewhat proud of it.

  113. Nice write up.

    I am somewhere between Level 4 and Level 5

  114. Not quite sure for me, it depends… by every single project and every single littel work. I find myself fell into a “level-0” sometimes, and many times be a geek when coding for IE.

  115. June 1, 2006 by Johan

    entirely subjective: level 5

  116. June 1, 2006 by xenop

    Levels of knowledge? stupid waste of time

  117. “Level 5 people tend to get into endless discussions about tiny markup details.”

    Doesn’t this make level 5 people somewhat of a purist at times, perhaps such as insisting that a footer-text-navigation with 2-3 links MUST be a ul and never a p?

    I suspect I’m level 5, but I’m not really a purist. Or maybe you would think that I’m just at lvl 4 pretending to be a 5.

  118. June 1, 2006 by A Heyes

    If something is so poorly written that you have to tell people not to take it seriously, it’s just not funny.

    Alternatively, if you think so little of your readers that you can’t trust them to find the jokes for themselves, then feel free to continue.

    This, by the way, isn’t a joke.

  119. uhm…I’m kind of level 5… but i don’t aim to reach 6…. I prefer to follow the trends instead of creating them from scratch :). Thanks for the nice article

  120. Being at a set level is normally not much of a problem if all you do is work by yourself.

    However it’s more of a problem when you have one dept that’s level 5 (our devs - yup strange for CMS company), and another which are level 4 wanting to be level 3 (our des). More than a few arguments and much hair pulling!

  121. Level 5, and fine with it ;-)

  122. can we make a 3.9? :)

  123. June 1, 2006 by Andy

    The author is clearly only at Level 3, as beyond that it descends into some kind of meaningless fuzziness. It seems to drift away from the precise nature of a markup language and into the warm cudddly world of design.

    The major oversight, imho, is no mention of the DOM. Professional HTML authors/manipulators think in terms of DOM graphs and trees; any other ‘view’ simply does not cross their minds. This is closely followed up by the realtime manipulation of their HTML (which is still HTML authoring) using Javascript in response to user/system events.

  124. Hmm, 5.xx is the closest.

  125. June 1, 2006 by Geeky freaks

    “I’m level 5… bla bla” poor you, wannabe jedi-master!

  126. yes… level 2. me ftw

  127. Level 5 Transistional myself.

    Since it takes more than one Level 5 member to have an “endless discussion anout tiny markup details” and level 5 is a little lonely at work - I’m not sure I qualify for Level 5 Strict.

    Our markup tends to suffer from the typical of Level 4 div mania described (and an unhealthly shade of classitis). But I guess that is good considering our developers are happilly propped up at around Level 2 by Visual Studio.

    Thanks, that was fun!

  128. Nice reading! I find myself mostly at level 5, sometimes slipping back to level 4, unfortunatley.

  129. I have to say, both this and the CSS level knowledge of posts are both extremely naive.

    I think they reinforce some negative sterotypes and just promote a misguided elitist attitude.

    I don’t think I have many people aong those stages, and I certainly was never portrayed in those early stages.

    It’s silly thinking.

  130. This one really provoked some comments.

    For myself, I have stayed with Arachnophilia 4.0 as an editor, eschewing the later java based version. It’s a bit like staying with the bicycle. It takes longer and is more effort but you don’t end up with a lot of superfluous rubbish code and you can take in all the scenery on the way.

    Love your blog.

    Also like the compulsory preview. Not, of course, that I need it!

  131. I would place myself at level 4.8 and strive for a level 5.

    I do agree that the degree of concern for your HTML level does not make you better at designing sites. Instead, it is a broader approach to using the standards in ways to develop good user interfaces.

  132. I think that i’m on level 5, but i’m open to learn each time more.

    Like we talk here in Brazil: “Living and learning…

  133. June 1, 2006 by Jennifer

    I learned to code by hand before I touched a WYSIWYG editor (Dreamweaver, in my case), so I guess that puts me roughly at level 3 (my first teacher was REALLY old-school, spacer gifs and all). I had fallen away from hand-coding for a while, but I’ve found myself coming back to it lately. I’m making steps into level 4 territory now, since I’m teaching myself CSS and learning the whole div vs. table thing. I admit, with a slight bit of embarrassment amongst all the level 5s, that I have no idea why a div is better than a table, but you have to start somewhere, right? So now I’m working on becoming “real” 4 and shooting eventually for 5. 6 just makes my brain hurt at this point, and I don’t know that such rarefied territory is really a goal for me, at least not now…ask me again when I can call myself a level 5 too.

  134. Oh-My-God!

    My first blog comment ever!

    I’ve been working in the industry for 10+ years as a web developer/designer and it’s starting to hurt my brains. Every new kid on the block or old school (HTML 3.2) designer/developer thinks he/she is the hottest shit (some times true)!

    Thank god we have well written books and good web sites so that every one can now state they are master of this and that. I truly belive that once you hop on to the “web” as a developer/designer, your journey has just begon (still learning something new every week/month).

    I noticed a decade ago that publicity is bad (blogs, web sites, web archive, google), or at least I didn’t need it (I live in Finland, and no, no raindeers in Helsinki). But now-a-days, it’s so easy to check one persons comments or opinios (and lies!) on the internet (even google it!). So think before you act or if you act before you think, I hope you are sitting on a stedy job (Yes, even the worst recruiters sometimes read “The Internet”).

    No, I will not state my “level”. Go figure..

    I know, I allready regret that I even wrote all this **. Peace, love and all that shit ;)

    Btw, Roger, good article :)


  135. June 2, 2006 by David Wall

    The code for this page looks pretty clean, but it could be formatted better to make it easier to read.

  136. June 2, 2006 by Vesa Kaihlavirta

    I’m at level 5ish and I’m working HARD to get to level 0 ASAP.

  137. Level aNiner-symbol carrot foo-bar here. Is it necessary to claim our levels? Now what? Do we get badges?

    I bet if we did one with one with JavaScript, we’d get a bunch of people saying “oh yea, level 5 here definitely. I’m so beyond getElementById - I now use Prototype’s dollar function instead”

  138. June 2, 2006 by jim

    3 > 4.

  139. Neat.

  140. June 2, 2006 by LazyJim

    I totally agree with Andy [124] about the DOM and manipulating it with scripting.

    I stopped thinking in terms of angle brackets years ago, I like to think a bit more object orientatedly and often wondered why all HTML editors I’ve tried so far don’t provide a usable DOM tree editing interface along with the standard ‘design’, ‘code’ and ‘preview’ views. (If you know of a good one I can trial please say).

  141. I think my place is on level 5, where I’m happy.

  142. June 2, 2006 by Martin

    I’m a level 7 which is so high above all of you, I think I’m in heaven :)

  143. June 2, 2006 by plug

    The new orthodox of html/css and the attitudes here are amazing! (x)html + css == SERIOUS!

  144. June 2, 2006 by Johan

    You have people that write good code and bad code, there is always room for improvement …

  145. ””” Even if you don’t need or want to learn all there is about HTML, you have to acknowledge that it is the most important language on the web.”“”

    Unfortunately accurate.

    WC3 at Work, Beware Falling Luddites


  146. June 2, 2006 by jbot

    Notepad is so level 7, man ;-)

  147. June 2, 2006 by Sam Feltus

    HTML is a miserable technology that holds back the progress of the web.

  148. I confess to spending time reorganizing my HTML and CSS files to make the code look pretty and I have, on occasion, pondered the most semantic way to make lists, as well as the most semantic way to use headings in sidebars.

  149. Level 2! Aww yeah!

  150. June 2, 2006 by Chuck Norris

    I’m a level infinity.

  151. I think anyone who found this article and read the whole thing deserves a Level-Up, with another Level-Up if you’ve read all the comments until this one.

  152. 153 coninued.

    Make that you’re nominated to a level 5 automatically if you’ve read all the comments until here. This is 154 after all.

    If you’re already a level 5 then why would you be wasting your time reading every single comment? You’re demoted to a level 3.

  153. June 3, 2006 by Simon

    Guess I’m at level 4.75… Strrrrike.

  154. June 3, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Dustin (#139): “This is all written in a tongue-in-cheek way” was my way of trying to tell people not to take this post too seriously. Looking at some of the comments I may need to add “WARNING! HUMOUR AHEAD!” to the title. And maybe I should create a humour category for posts like this one.


  155. I might be stupid, but this is the second article this week I read that says something about using divs and spans instead of tables?

    how can this be done? and what are the benefits?

    any one care to clarify?

  156. I hope I’m a Level 5. After a few beers I sometimes move on to Level 6, to the general irritation of my Level 0 friends.

  157. Between Level 2 and 3? I still would use Allaire’s Homesite over Dreamweaver. Lame, I know.

  158. June 4, 2006 by Zach

    If the descriptions of those in group 3 and 4 are accurate, than I’m closer to being a professional than I ever thought. I am on the very low end of group 5 but I’m still there.

  159. June 4, 2006 by Jeff

    You can be at level 5 and suck at design.

  160. June 5, 2006 by paulo

    in glancing through these comments i am amazed at how much table related confusion has been posted… that and the amount of people commenting on this article who have no clue who “Roger Johansson” is.

    tables are used to present tabular data. tables are not meant to hold your design/layout together. using div’s to spit out tabular data is just plain overkill.

  161. June 5, 2006 by Zoe

    I love this, Roger! I am working on writing up a job description for a new position we want to hire and I think I am going to request that all applicants be Level 5s. ;-) My favorite thing on css-d and CMX is turning Level 4 people into Level 5 people.

  162. Nice article… I havn’t done serious web dev in a while but see parts of myself in at least three levels: 3, 4, 5

  163. June 5, 2006 by John

    Better to be a level-headed business person than a geek obsessed with levels. We don’t need more programmers, we need more solutions.

    The people who say;

    “Nobody in the print world edits PostScript code by hand, so why should the web be any different?”

    are right on target! They understand that the web is about the solid presentation of killer content. NOT about who’s open standard, open source, open blah blah blah conforms to the ideals of some academic body of social rejects who couldn’t run a lemonaid stand if their life depended on it!

    If CSS and XHTML are the Gold standards, the visual development suites should be judged accordingly. It should NOT take a coder to create formatted web content. Coding energy should be reserved for the part of Web 2.0 applications that absolutely can’t be done in a development platform.

  164. June 5, 2006 by Vladimir Orlt

    I’m somewhere between 4 and 5… I’m taking the time to work through a rather thick (beginning) book on (X)HTML, CSS & Java, and am trying to “do things right straight-off” (what a cliche!)… I like XHTML ‘cos it lets me skip all the deprectated stuff in that thick book! My site isn’t the greatest but it does the job, and should be upgraded regularly.

    Should there be a 2.5 ranking for those who know that HTML isn’t about ‘tags’ but about ‘elements’?

    Why does using a geocities site imply questionable content?

  165. So basically that put me at level 5 (more like 5.5 from the description of 6) but with a disdain of some of what I would find useless in 6 that will probably get deprecated anyway.

    Of course working with Perl, PHP, etc will cause that problem.

  166. June 5, 2006 by Tom Ingram

    NOT about who’s open standard, open source, open blah blah blah…

    Do you have a clue what you’re talking about? Open-source has nothing (or very little) to do with web development. It’s best not to criticize something you don’t understand.

    As for the main article, I’m sorry to rip it apart like this, but I have seen a point I agree with on a web devlopment forum.

    HTML is used to display a web page. There’s just so much you can do with it, that there’s no need to have this level crap to begin with. You’ll have the

    1. I don’t know HTML.

    2. I know basic tags.

    3. I know how to make layouts using tables, maybe with some CSS.

    4. I know how to use CSS effectively.

    5. I want HTML to do more.

    You’re not a web designer if you’re in the first two (even someone using Dreamweaver has an idea of what the tags to if he actually does it for a living). So that leaves three levels that you’ll see in any language: beginner, intermediate, advanced. That’s about it.

  167. Great article…

    I see myself as a level 4. I was taught back in school how to code in notepad (probably because the school couldn’t afford Frontpage at the time!) and have never taken a second glance at any WYSIWYG editor! Now (a bit late I realise) I’ve started looking at the idea of standards and xhtml/css, but I’m only just getting the hang of it! Ooh, and I love to show off when a site I make validates! Good thing I’m doing it for fun rather than a job at the moment!

    I hope I will make a decent level 5, but I know it will take time to sort out when and where I use my divs!

    Just a quick question here, do any top web designers use WYSIWYG editors?

  168. #169 Phil : WYSIWYG’s are not an evil thing. it’s all about speed and productivity. I’m sure a lot of the level 5 dudes here don’t design in “design view”, but they also know that the features that those tools have are very helpful.

    well, after all the crap i’ve said, does that make me a level 5? :D

  169. June 6, 2006 by Rakesh

    You need to have a level for “instinctual” HTML guys who can conjure up great html but whose in-brain knowledge of html would be level 3 by your rating. But they have enough knowledge to understand new (to them) concepts they look up and use them immediately.

    That’s me.

  170. June 6, 2006 by SilentWarrior

    I know I’m late, but: I don’t really see why the spec writers should be on a higher level than the “regular” web professional. (Hey, I know it is fun. j/k, too. ;)) They are just producers and consumers, neither of them in any way “higher” than the other. (Maybe I should say meta-producer and producer, since web developers use the products (specs) of others to produce web sites.)

    However, I would consider myself level 5, too. Actually, the thing about transitional and strict doctype I only learned reading your article Transitional vs. Strict Markup over at 24 ways.

  171. June 6, 2006 by yitzhaq

    Wow, that’s about 172 people not grasping the concept of “a rhetorical question”. ;P Good read though, and an important subject.

  172. Well written, I recall moving through each of those phrases. I think my recent argument with a client with me wanting to use an unordered list instead of just 10 items seperated by a newline qualifies me for level 5 :)

  173. It’s 2:43 AM, and here I am online, because I was laying awake thinking about styling definition lists as navigation and exactly what Aaron had to say. I laughed out loud at Miranda’s comment about your numbering.

    DOOMED! We’re all doomed, I’s tellin’ ya.

  174. Does it make any difference? The boss wants the job done now and he doesn’t give a d**n if I use HTML or Yoruba language to deliver it.

    I would rather be at level 0 so that I can be the BOSS!

  175. @Adedeji Olowe

    Few dare to go there, but when they do it’s called: enlightment. ;-)

  176. June 8, 2006 by Level 2

    You mean I shouldn’t be using table and font tags?!

  177. Comfortably at level 5 now, but when I started my web dev business last June I was a sad little 3. I’ve read that there are 4 levels of competency for any subject:

    1. unconsciously incompetent
    2. consciously incompetent
    3. consciously competent
    4. unconsciously competent

    As far as HTML goes, I’m a 3.5.

  178. In reality, there’s a divergent track starting at Level 4 for web developers who deliver what their customers want instead of being slaves to purist expectations and producing perfect “semantic” code that almost nobody will appreciate. It’s all about what your site looks like and how people use it. If people like your site and keep coming back, you’ve got a great site—there’s no way around this. On the other hand, being technically perfect doesn’t guarantee anything if your content sucks and there’s nothing “sticky” on the site.

    MySpace is a great example of what many designers would call a poorly designed site, but it delivers the goods and people seem to love it.

    If you want to consider how technical enhancements to your site will really improve it, consider first how to 1) provide clear, contextual navigation around your site (difficulty of navigation is the #1 problem of websites in my experience); 2) enhance SEO as much as possible (multiple techniques for this); 3) give people something to do with other people (interactivity!). Perfect semantic markup is #99 or thereabouts.

  179. June 8, 2006 by Bradly

    Thanks for the great article! I have been studying web development since November of last year. I love it but it seems that every little bit I learn I realize there is even more that I still want to learn.

    Your article put me at a #4. This inspires me since I know that I am only breaking the surface but that I am still making progress. Thanks for letting me know I am not still at the bottom of the totem pole!

  180. In my dream the other night I was trying to figure out how to change some code to do what I wanted. Restless night, woke up thinking “why”, Now I know, I must be a 5. I’ll be able to sleep better from now on. Thankyou.

  181. Interesting entry. While I agree that we need more “level 5s” out there doing stuff, what I think should be the target of some software developers is making an easy-to-use, standards and semantics-based XHTML editor.

    While I’m not up to date on WYSIWYG editors (as I don’t use them), it would be nice to see such an application, as it would allow even novices to output sites that are standards compliant, that would make the web a better place.

    Let’s face it: There will always be people who want to put up content on the web but don’t care all too much about web standards - I don’t blame them for this, often time or other constraints matter more. That’s why a properly-designed, easy-to-use, standards-compliant editor could help a lot in this area. I know it wouldn’t be easy to make, but rarely is that such the case with properly-designed software.

  182. For the sake of trivia, that level 0 quote should read: “Aitch-tee-em-what?”


  183. Well that’s me told. An interesting article - it seems I know more about CSS than I do HTMl - that can’t be right!

  184. I’m a 5.01 on the way to 5.2 ;) but more into css than xhtml… Love the article

  185. June 16, 2006 by Kenny Graham

    I’m a level 5 in practice, and a level 6 at heart (and on mailing lists). I tend to hear “but in the REAL world…” quite a lot. I’d love to get into the spec editing scene, and I occasionally get into debates on the various w3c mailing lists, but unless I’m famous or represent a corporation, I’m not sure where to start.

  186. June 20, 2006 by U. N. Owen

    I’d say I’m somewhere between a Level 4 and a Level 5, but I definitely want to increase my knowledge and skills.

    I think real competency (HTML or otherwise) comes from having an accurate “mental model”—correctly understanding what’s going on from start (raw HTML ‘code’) to finish (how end users, even level 1 users, see the site).

  187. I’m about a 4 with a dash of a 5. That I’m anything but a 0 still to this day amazes me and I’ve been dabbling since 2002. Everything I’ve learned has been solely out of curiosity and while I’ve occassionally used a bit of my HTML knowledge at work, it’s not enough to justify the amount of time I spend on it! Still, it keeps me out of trouble so I can’t complain.

  188. July 2, 2006 by Eric

    I’m a level 1 who would like to become a much higher level. Where do I start?

  189. July 8, 2006 by don etho

    level 3 and couldn’t be bothered to move up the food chain…..

  190. July 25, 2006 by Tom

    Add “usability” and “ability to configure a web server”, maybe at Level 5.

  191. Interesting article, and by the amount of attention you have received clearly you’ve hit on something. But its a bit arbitrary. You could easily have 10 levels or 20 if you so wanted. Still i read it so…

  192. July 30, 2006 by Marc Birch

    Over 3 years of web design places me comfortably at level 5. Where I follow and understand others techniques, but for me level 6 is still far in the distance…

  193. August 9, 2006 by John O'Leary

    You forgot level 7: XML + XSL.

  194. Very good article. I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying :)

  195. August 14, 2006 by Tony

    You missed out developers whose primary language is server-side or database related, so they dont have time for standards and just do what works and looks good.

  196. I have been working as a Web Application developer for almost a year now.. and I think I fall in 4th level :)

  197. I have exactly the same impression - back in 4th Level ;-)

  198. Nice post! :-)

    I read the article with great interest.

    Someone above me was right - you could mark 10 or 20 levels - but I would ask - why? Is that necessary? I think you hitthe point, and marked up all of us designers quite clearly;-)

    Still, I think, Level 5 could be devided in 5A- and 5A and 5A+, because there are slight differences in the knowledge at the same level:) And this is the most advanced (I won’t comment on “6”, it’s for maniacs;-) - so it could be looked at with greater detail.

    Thus, Dan Cederholm and Douglas Bowman, for example, would fall strictly into 5A+, and I would classify myself something between 5A- and 5A:)))

    Well, I read all of these “specs” with much interest, and I see I drop exactly at Level 5. So I think;-)

    I write semantic (X)HTML and nice CSS for more than 2 years (even 3, I guess).

    But I wouldn’t aim for Level 6, I don’t think so:) I am so happy with five…

    I create simple, effective, clean, usable designs, I separate content from presentation as much as I can, use nice graphics which complement the html structure in a nice and non-obtrusive way, and if using fancy stuff like JS, always try to make the SAME thing work, even if JS is disabled/non-present! :-) [Example: add nice pop-up effects for gallery on the website, but if JS is not present, the links from thumbnails simply lead to larger image files.]

    And… OK, OK, I know… my visit card is my website, but unfortunately, with so much work lately I can’t concentrate on it and just keep workin’ for others:-( Ahh, Designer’s Fate…

    Still, if interested in what I do and why I pretend Level 5, you better drop a look at http://www.cantarco.de (Ensemble Cantarco) - one of my latest projects I did for a friend in The Netherlands:-)

    Now, what about creating similar specification for CSS 2? :-)

    Waiting…………. :-)

  199. The issue is that you can be on a high level, but suck in design, in professionalism (timings, way of working, etc.) - I think there so many more point to consider.

  200. @ CHrissi. You are absolutly right. Especially the professional attitude is missed by many people. Jörn

  201. Interesting list, but the answer to your question at the end felt a bit obvious since most regulars here probably are at level 5 (or wouldn’t dare to admit any lower number). I feel it could be several levels between 5 and 6.

  202. I’m a level 4 but will be level 5 when I kill 12 more wild boars.

  203. I think there is a need for a level 7 with XML + XSL…

  204. I thing that people who writes new HTML specification are above levels. And level 6 should be reserve for html hackers, people who create new things with existing technology. In that way I could thing about myself at level 5 and maybe some day reach level 6.

  205. I really don’t know many Level 0’s. Everybody seems to be aware of HTML, even me mum. She just thinks that it’s the sort of “highfalutin computer nonsense to be left to the nerds”, like her son.

  206. I´m sorry, my level is 1. Now I´m working to level. A devil of a job!

  207. Hello,

    I´m in level 1, i make my shop (postenprofis.com) with simple OSC but i work hard to go in the next 6 Month to go on level 3, i can say, you can do it, if you want, but you must work hard for this, my day has 48 hours, and i wish me for christmas to have 70 hours a day

    Thanks all

  208. Hi,

    I am in level 4 aNS i work hard to go in the next Months to go on level 7 :-) , my day has 24hours, and i wish me for this year to have 30 a day and this would be great… keep on writing and hey at all do not forget that there must be humour in the world.. do not take all so seriously

  209. I almost don’t know a person without a personal site (or just a web page) already so most people I know are at least level 2. Ok, my grandmother and grandfather are level 0 but I just don’t count them :). I personally am a graphic/web designer but I just can’t stand to know “a little” about something, I just have to be good at everything I am interested in(yes, I am modest too;). So currently I am level 4 and I will continue educating myself till I get to level 5 and I can call myself a web developer too. Still, I don’t know if I will ever get to level 6 since I am more of a “presentation is important too” person than “structure and semantics matter the most” person.

  210. I am a level 1 and try to do better. Also if I do not work in web industry I see the necessarity of using web pages, e.g. for applications. So everybody should help himself to a basic knowledge or, and this is my plan B, have vitamin B (some friendly persons to help you).

  211. k what is my level? my css knowledge is very good, i make all my websites just with html and css (php backend) including nice on-mouse-over-effects-menues without a scripting language (java etc) at time i learn to finetune the css-code to make it effective and small but i never wrote an article about css. so whats my level?

    all the best 4 u all.

  212. the people claiming level 5 with their default wordpress themes and horribly misaligned graphics and utter lack of content margins crack me up. i’ve clicked every link in these comments, and seen maybe 5 decent designs total. it goes to show, those with seemingly all the time in the world to “talk” haven’t spend any time at all learning to “walk”.

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