How to learn HTML

Recently, a colleague asked me for advice for one of her team members who wishes to find his way into web work from traditional design. To get into web work, IMO, start with the basic building blocks: HTML and CSS.

I haven’t had to answer a question about how to learn HTML in a while, so I did what I do when I don’t know what I’m talking about (which is a lot): I ask smarter people, like the team I work with at Yellow Pencil. Here’s what they had to say about getting started with HTML and CSS:

Tallitha Campos, who is one of the fastest learners I know, suggested Coursera. Coursera is a great platform for self-directed learning. You can access courses from some of the world’s leading research and education institutions at low costs, between $29-$99 per course. The University of Michigan has a great beginner program available to learn HTML5 and CSS3:

Dylan Rogowsky, who also used to teach at a post-secondary level and often schools me at a grade school level, said that his students really liked Treehouse. You need to pay up front with Treehouse, so I can’t link directly to a program, but you can sign up for around $25/mo and they have both great courses as well as opportunities to practice with online quizzes and challenges. If you like to be quizzed and challenged, get your Bristol board ready for some gold star action:

Dylan also mentioned the venerable learning institution which is part of LinkedIn now but has been at the forefront of online education since 2002. (ProTip from Dylan, see what your local library offers for free, some libraries offer access to online learning system for members)

Kim Beaudin, who teaches at Ladies Learning Code and is a community builder, had three suggestions: Free Code Camp, Ladies Learning Code, and Code Academy. is an amazing concept. Learn to code for free, and help non-profits at the same time! is a great place to learn with others in an environment that attempts to side step the systematic sexism that dominates the tech industry (and most of society). If you feel like arguing with me right now about how men have it rough too, that last sentence isn’t for you right now — come back and read it when you’ve become an emotionally mature adult. has a mission to unbreak education (yes I just used the work unbreak when talking about education). How? It’s not totally clear without actually joining, but I’m all for anyone trying to make learning more good. Lauren Achtem, the personification of the overlap in a Venn diagram of likability and talent, seconded Code Academy and linked to this specific course:

Kim wasn’t done, because she never stops doing excellent things, and also dug up this article: which Frederick Brummer — our resident maker of awesomeness — is probably going to complete in full by this time next year based on both his initial reaction and what I know of his commitment to being awesome. Kim also suggested which looks like a great place to start if you’re past the basics and want some quick start guides to complex areas of web development.

Sam Jiang (who can’t decide if he’s a designer or programmer and it probably doesn’t matter because he excels at whatever he tries) reminded me of the nerdy and exhaustive which is basically the digital repository for all nerd knowledge. In several years when society crumbles and the Internet turns into only Tumblr and Reddit, knowledgeable nerds will spend weeks printing and collating all of the knowledge stored in W3Schools on FSC Certified paper to store in a special vault on the north coast of Norway (which will be unfortunately flooded due to climate change by 2030). Get this knowledge into your head now before the coming apocalypse renders us all able to communicate only in media sound bites.

Please share other resources and when that person at work comes up to you and says “Hey, my genius kid is probably going to create a billion dollar startup as soon as they learn HTML how do you do that?” you can point them at this article.

Thanks! Keep learning, and when you don’t know stuff, ask smart people. I can introduce you to some.