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How To Get Started In Web Development

Web Development is a complicated subject, and it could take years to truly understand. From frameworks, to programming, to API’s, and more, web development education never really ends. Luckily, there is common path if you want to get started in web development. This post outlines the different paths you could go down if you wanted to be a web developer.

Note, there is no single “correct” way to learn this. There are dozens of different ways someone can develop the skills sets needed to become a web developer, all of which are equally reputable. What matters is that you start learning now and stay consistent in your education. The first rule of getting started in web development is never stop learning. As soon as you’ve come to terms with the mental discipline it takes, we can cover some of the basics. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Front-End Vs. Back-End Vs. Full Stack

Before you get started learning how to program websites, you need to decide what kind of developer you want to be. You have mainly three choices, which I’ll outline below.

Front-End Programming

Being a front-end programmer means you decide how websites are structured and how they look. To be a front-end programmer, you need to know HTML, CSS, and Javascript. These are all different programming languages.

HTML is what determines the structure of the web page. For example, all the words, pictures, and links you’re looking at on this web page were built using HTML. CSS is the language that makes the HTML look great. CSS is all about design and making web pages look visually appealing. Javascript controls what the elements on a page do. Javascript has A LOT of different applications, but know that it’s mainly used to make your page interactive.

We’d suggest learning HTML and CSS first before you take on Javascript. To learn HTML and CSS, Codecademy has a great course here. HTML and CSS tutorials are everywhere, so if those resources don’t work for you, there are dozens of Youtube videos, other ebooks, and free coding educational resources online that could surely fit your needs.

As for Javascript, we side with what Derek Sivers has to say about it. Start with Head First JavaScript, a great book that teaches fundamentals Javascript very well. Simultaneously take Free Code Camp’s Javascript course to solidify your knowledge.

Once you master those three languages, you’re now able to structure and design a web page! Time to build a website and put it on the internet, right? Well, it depends. If your website doesn’t collect any information, then sure… but what help is that? In order for your website to gather and store information, it needs a server, and thus involves programming languages that help make that possible.This is where a back-end skill-set is necessary.

Back-End Programming

The path to learning back-end programming is a little more complicated. You ultimately need to pick a “programming stack” to learn. There are many different stacks you can choose from, and note that we broke down 6 of them in this post. Whatever stack you choose, just pick one, because even if you switch stacks in the future, the fundamentals of programming are the same for each one. So what does a back-end programmer do?

Without a back-end, sites wouldn’t be able to take in user information, make user accounts, or remember game scores. If front-end is the skeleton and skin, the back-end is the brains and memory. If you just wanted to get started with learning a back-end stack, try learning MEAN to start out. That stands for MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node. Even if you don’t stick with that stack forever, it will teach you the fundamentals of programming that will apply in the future.

A great resource to learn back-end programming are Free Code Camp’s back-end section. If you can’t tell, we like Free Code Camp because it’s free and it works. Also, the Web Developer Bootcamp on Udemy has a very in-depth section on MEAN, and it will have you deploy a full stack app! Wait, full stack? What does that mean?

Full-Stack Programming

Full stack programming is when someone knows both the front-end and back-end stacks. Ultimately, a full stack programmer can build a beautiful looking web application without outside assistance. It takes years to get to this level, but everyone starts somewhere.

There’s one key question to ask yourself; do you want to know front-end, back-end, or full stack? We suggest learning full stack, because you will be more valuable of a programmer and will ultimately be more versatile. If you do choose to become a full stack developer, we’d suggest getting your feet wet with front-end development first, then learn back-end development. Good Luck!

Note that we mean what we said about the learning never being over. Frameworks come and go every year, and they gain popularity like rapid fire, such as React. It’s a fast moving environment, so there’s no other option but to keep learning. But the most important way to learn is to just start and don’t stop. Good luck!