Getting started with web development
I was asked the other day to compile a list of resources for a friend that wants to get started designing & building for the web.
As I was compiling the list, it dawned on me how far we’ve come. Not long ago, resources were scarce and mostly HTML for dummies-type-stuff. Now there’s an immense amount of material available, and I’m especially keen on the recent rise of interactive courses. Sites like Treehouse, Code School and Code Academy are really pushing the envelope in this space, and I can only imagine where we’ll be 10 years from now.
The following list is what I came up with initially, and I’ll be expanding it over time. If you can think of any resources I haven’t listed, please suggest them in the comments below. Think of it from the perspective of a complete beginner, with no prior understanding of how a website is built. Thanks.
- Codeacademy - The title says it all: Web Fundamentals
- Treehouse - A bit more advanced, but still great if you’re just getting your feet wet.
- Code.org - Simple courses to get your feet wet, plus a whole slew of additional resources to dig into.
- Udemy.com - Since I first published this, a lot of sites have added tons of great courses, materials, etc. Udemy especially have quite a catalogue to peruse these days.
Online tutorials & references
- SitePoint - good, basic references & resources to get going. I haven’t gone through them all, but there’s generally high quality to be found.
- HTML5 Doctor - a great site for understanding the semantics behind the new additions to HTML, and how, when and where to apply them. It does require an understanding of the basics of HTML, however.
- Udemy - recently posted a good, thorough and up to date introduction to HTML. Great primer for anyone looking to start with the very basics.
I had trouble finding the best entry-level books on website design & development, so the books on this list all require a general idea of how websites come to be.
- Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug - the usability bible. Mandatory reading.
- Bulletproof Web Design, Dan Cederholm - a great resource for applying best practices to the way you build websites.
- Designing with Web Standards, Jeffrey Zeldman and Ethan Marcotte - I’ve never read this myself, but I’m pretty sure the authors earned some of their stripes with this opus.
- Every single book from A Book Apart - every single one is excellent and will prepare you for building the websites of tomorrow.
General thoughts on web design & development
This list could easily go on forever, but these are some of the people/places I’ve found to consistently post great articles on how to build better software for the web:
- A List Apart
- Ryan Singer
- Des Traynor / Intercom blog
- Joshua Porter - both his personal blog and the co-op 52 Weeks of UX
- Method & Craft
- Brad Frost
Finally, you should check out my earlier post on how to maximize your productivity when you start designing that awesome thing you have in mind. Oh, and remember: sites with pictures of funny cats will never go out of fashion. Now go and build something!