Web Development: A guide on getting started

Starting off in web development can be challenging at first. Thankfully, starting is the hardest part and it only gets more fun as you dive into bigger and more complex projects.

But before thinking of building the next Facebook, you will need to start with the basics and take baby steps towards achieving your goal. Are you someone who is autonomous, self-driven and eager to learn? If that’s the case, then you fit the right profile for becoming a web developer. In this article, I’ll cover some helpful ways you can get started so that you can start working on your ideas today.

All you need is an Internet connection, a laptop and the willingness to learn. Oh and a shit ton of coffee… or redbull. Whatever you think gives you more energy.

Why should you learn web development?

In San Francisco, some developers make around $120,000 and designers can expect around $80,000. But that’s Silicon Valley — And the cost of living is much higher than in most cities around the world. It’s common for people in the tech industry to compare everything to Silicon Valley, everything tends to be overhyped. It’s important to compare the numbers relatively to your local economy to get a more accurate answer.

So let’s get realistic for a second. According to the Department of Labor, they expect employment growth of 20% for Web developers between 2012 and 2022, outpacing the 11% average growth it predicts for all occupations. The median annual wage for web developers was $63,490 in May 2014.

It’s not a hidden truth, the money is good and the opportunities are growing. Personally, I believe there are far better reasons to learn this trade than just for the money.

  • You become part of the tech industry. You will meet a ton of interesting people.
  • You get to solve problems that you’re passionate about. Problems that can potentially have a large impact.
  • You learn valuable skills that you can apply in any industry.
  • You can actually develop your ideas, instead of just thinking about them.
  • It’s really fun — Once you get the hang of it.

Before we talk about useful resources to get started, let’s start with the why.

1. Ask yourself why.

Do you have ideas you think can have a large impact in our world? Maybe you have a great business idea, but have no clue on how to get started? Maybe you want to be your own boss and work as a freelancer? Or work for tech giants like Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Netflix… the list goes on. These are all valid reasons for wanting to become a developer. There is no right or wrong answer. The important part is really understanding why you’re willing to spend a countess number of hours learning to code. If you’re truly motivated to achieve your why, the rest will fall into place.

2. Set goals

What do you want to create and by when? Setting a deadline is crucial, as it will hold you accountable to your progress.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.
 — Napoleon Hill

What do you want to be able to accomplish in 30 days, 60 days and 365 days from now? For example, 30 days can be learn the basics of HTML and CSS. 90 days can be build a fully responsive website. And 365 days can be to have built a functional web app that does xyz. Define your personal milestones so that you can keep track of your progress. If you’re not tracking your progress, you will never know if you’re learning and improving.

3. Be patient

Learning web development takes time and this should be reflected in your expectations. Don’t expect to build a fully responsive website within the first week of starting, it won’t happen. There’s a reason it takes a while to be proficient, because it’s not something you can pickup in a short amount of time. It requires you to consistently practice and go through the growing pains. You’ll get frustrated for not knowing how to do xyz… because you’ve spent hours or even days trying to solve your coding issue. That’s just part of the learning experience, expect this to happen to you.

Where to get started

There are a ton of resources online that can help you get started. Here’s a short list of some of my favourites.

1. Team Treehouse

Video content is very clear and easy to follow, they have 1000+ videos with topic that range from web development, android, IOS development and even business related topics such as marketing and finance. The code challenges and quizzes are very helpful, because it forces you to apply what you’ve learnt right away. If there’s only 1 website you want to register to, I’d definitely recommend this one.

2. Code Academy

Unlike Team treehouse, code academy does not contain video content. However, the interactive learning approach can be more helpful to some of you depending on your method of learning. You’ll be following instructions and writing code the whole time. Don’t be fooled on how easy some of the exercises can be. Following instructions is easy. My suggestion is that after every module, you try coding the same result with your own text editor so that you really grasp the material. They have a range of topics : HTML, CSS, Javascript, Jquery, PHP, Python and Ruby.

3. Envato Tuts+

How-to tutorials, courses and eBooks. If you know specifically the topics you want to learn and can guide yourself, then Tutsplus is a great resource to visit.

4. Udemy

Udemy offers more courses than any other website, with over 40,000 courses. If you prefer a more structured approach to learning, with a course outline and video lectures… then you should consider Udemy.

Some additional resources

1. 200+ Best Free Tools & Resources for Front-End Web Developers

2. Hacker News — Stay up to date with technology

Closing remarks

I hope this short guide has helped in pointing you in the right direction and that you have a better understanding of how to start learning web development. Have fun learning!

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