So, you are interested in learning web development and becomeing a web developer!?! Firstly, congratulations, you’ve made a great choice and if you are reading this blog then you are probably a member of a Facebook group or online community which is a great place to start and find support throughout your chosen pursuit! Doing great so far…!

Depending on your background, you might be wondering where to start learning web development. If you’ve been on google (or search engine of your choice!) then you might be feeling just a tad bit overwhelmed with all the languages, resources and information out there! Don’t worry, your not alone, I still find that google can be my worst enemy, as well as my best friend at times!

One of the first things that I would advise when starting out learning web development is that you have some kind of career or end goal in mind. Maybe you want to make a career change, maybe you have a wicked idea for an app or maybe you just want to learn for fun. Whatever the goal, I think it’s important to have an understanding of WHY you are doing this. This understanding will help you be more constructive with your learning time and also help encourage you through those times of feeling like giving up. Remember, no matter how elaborate and far away the end goal may seem now, ¬†you CAN achieve it with hard work and perseverance!

I’m going to make the assumption that most people reading this are aspiring web developers, just starting out learning web development. Otherwise, you are probably reading the wrong blog! Assuming you have no previous experience, I think it’s a good idea in the beginning to also decide if your interest lies in back end or front end development. Let me briefly explain the difference…

Front End – this is what the end user see’s and interacts with on the page. Its all the design, fancy effects, layout and imagery that creates the user experience. Generally front end developers will be visual creatives with excellent design skills and a passion for usability and user experience. Technologies often associated with front end web development are HTML, CSS, JQuery and Javascript.

Backend – this is the part that typically process’s, stores and manipulates data. It is HOW the website or application works. Backend developers are generally good problem solvers, logical thinkers who are interested in the functionality of a website or application. Backend development is usually associated with server side languages such as PHP, Python and Ruby.

I knew right from the off that I just didn’t have that flair for visual front end design. I probably found this decision easier than most as I think that due to my background in engineering and construction I naturally am more akin to problem solving, and figuring out how things work, than making things look pretty!

Either way, whatever you choose or even if you are still undecided, i still think that the best place to start is by learning some basic HTML and CSS. After all, it doesn’t matter what area of development that you ultimately want to work in, you still need to be able to display it on a webpage in some kind of mildly presentable format!

First things first, head to Codecademy and take the ‘Make a Website’ course and then the ‘HTML & CSS’ courses. This should give you a feel for what the technologies are all about and will also get you started writing code straight away, rather than having to figure out how to setup a local development environment.

Once you have done that, congratulations! You have started on your web development journey. Its now time to practice. This may seem hard at first. It’s hard to find time when you have a full time job, school, a partner, kids etc all demanding your attention. However, as i’ve mentioned in previous posts, consistency is key. Make time and keep going!

If you have ever watched Worlds Strongest Man, learning to code is very much like the truck pull event. It’s so hard to get going at the start. It seems like an impossible task. You are just taking baby steps. However, once you get that truck rolling, it gets easier and easier, until you find yourself running towards the end!!!

Further good resources to practice your HTML and CSS skills can be found on Udemy. I can personally recommend, these two free courses by Edwin Diaz and Brad Hussey. Both are great instructors (if not a little quirky) and both courses will cover setting up your development environment, downloading a text editor (I like sublime and Brackets) and building an actual project.

One thing i will say before signing off on this blog post, is that you don’t in any way need to be a HTML and CSS expert before you can start building things or moving on to learning a server side language. You don’t have to spend months and months doing tutorial after tutorial. Once you have the fundamentals down, you can learn as you build.

Something else that i found useful was also to work with templates. In fact, the first website that i actually built and went live with was based on a $12 template, but there are plenty out there that you can pick up for free. After first opening a code editor 3-4 weeks prior i was able to launch a professional looking website for my brother-in-laws business. I know some people will raise eyebrows at what i’ve just said but the benefit that i found, using templates as a beginner, was that i could work with correctly structured and formatted code. It also enabled me to build better projects which boosted my confidence and ethusiasm for web developement. They taught me to read documentation (which is a very important part of being a developer) and introduced me to technologies such as JQuery and Javascript.

Another point that i should make is that a lot of web development, design agencies and software companies use templates on a day to day basis. A template doesn’t build an amazing website but provides a framework upon which a fantastic website can be built. I work at a product based software company and we use templates on the front end of our products. This means we can concentrate our time on the functionality of our product and not waste valuable time re-inventing the wheel. That being said, if your end goal is to be a great front end web developer then you need to spend time mastering these skills. What I’m saying is, don’t let it hold you back, don’t get bogged down doing tutorial after tutorial. GET BUILDING!

About Rick

Proud dad and husband. PHP Developer. Heating Engineer in a previous life.