How to get Started in Web Development
Capture Your Why
Ironically enough, you’ve already begun your journey into web development. You decided that enough is enough and it’s time to start. You searched the internet for a guide on how to start and stumbled upon this post.
Take an audit of your present state. What is fueling you? What will learning to be a web developer bring you? Take note of this fuel and capture the fire inside you. Carry this fuel around. You will need it throughout the tough times as learning web development will be a long (but worthwhile) journey. Remind yourself of your why when you find yourself running out of fuel.
Find Your Roadmap
To get to your destination, you will need a roadmap. Luckily, plenty of maps are available. For example, the freeCodeCamp and Odin Project curriculums are are great places to start (choose one, no need to do both). If you’d like a more formal course, take a look at Coursera’s Full Stack Web Specialization (you can audit the classes for free!). Look over the maps to get an idea of what to expect.
Gather supplemental resources to use as you go through your web development journey. For example, Codecademy offers an HTML & CSS course that compliments any HTML and CSS exercises you will do in freeCodeCamp or the Odin Project.
Slowly and Steadily Learn
Once you’ve created a map of the curriculum you’ll follow and the supplemental material you’ll use, dive right in. Get started immediately while that fire still burns.
At the same time, don’t burn yourself out too quickly. On countless occasions, I’ve seen people commit eight hours a day for their first week of learning web development only to be too tired to put any time towards it during the second week.
A better approach to keep the fire alive is to start smaller commitments and habits. James Clear in Atomic Habits describes how small habits can lead to easy wins which gives us the positive reinforcement needed to grow those small habits. So, instead of the eight hours per day, just commit to fifteen or thirty minutes per day. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of sitting down and exercising your HTML and CSS, expand your time to an hour. So on and so forth.
Once you feel comfortable with the exercises in, say, HTML and CSS, it is time to build a project with your newly developing skills.
Projects are your bread and butter in learning web development. The only reason to do the exercises and tutorials is to be able to write your own project. Furthermore, employers are looking for developers that have experience building, not for developers that successfully complete tutorials. Do not get caught up on the tutorial treadmill.
Choose an appropriate project. As humans, we get bored when a challenge is too easy and frustrated when a challenge is too difficult. If you’re learning HTML and CSS, do not try and create the next Facebook. Instead, build a tribute page. If you’re learning React, build a Random Quote Machine. Make sure the project you choose matches your skillset.
If you’re still stuck, I’m here to help. Send me a tweet with a description of where you’re stuck and I’ll do my best to unblock you.