Not all games require huge teams of coders and many years of development to be a success. Smash-hit word puzzle game Wordle was put together by Josh Wardle for his partner Palak Shah in a relatively quick period of time, and despite its simplicity and lack of extras (like a phone app), its meteoric rise was enough to get the game acquired by the New York Times.
If you have your own idea for a basic but addictive game that can capture the world’s attention and net you a seven-figure payout, coding a straightforward web app like Wordle is entirely possible.
The basic framework of the original Wordle site, like every website, was coded in HTML, HyperText Markup Language. It’s the code that the internet is built on, telling your browser what to put where when you load up a webpage. The site you’re reading now is coded in HTML, serving up not just the content but the instructions about how to display that content, from menu positions to font sizes.
Alongside HTML there’s CSS or Cascading Style Sheets: It’s a more modern add-on to HTML that makes it easier to control formatting on a webpage, whether that’s the formatting of an image or a block of text. CSS means that if you have a sprawling website with multiple pages, you can set the fonts and colors for the site as a whole, rather than having to code each page individually.
If you want to build websites properly, you need to learn HTML or CSS—although plenty of services like Squarespace will now let you design pages without knowing any code. These services let you click and drag and drop page elements through a user-friendly interface, and then take care of the HTML and CSS in the background.
Wardle himself admits that the game wasn’t coded in a particularly complex way, which is why it was possible to download Wordle in its entire, pre-NYT form, complete with all the words in its database. It was also possible to see upcoming solutions just by studying the source code of the Wordle website.