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  1. #1
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    Need some direction for my Web Development learning path

    Yes, I'm in need of direction or guidance for my web development learning path. I want to become a full fledged web developer, and hopefully earn a living in web development within a year or two...so I definitely need to learn this fast!

    I've been teaching myself HTML and CSS for about the past couple weeks, and I'm making good progress. However, I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the ever growing mountain of required knowledge I'm going to have to possess in order to do this as a profession.

    I've already made my own local website using the HTML and CSS I've learned, which I thought was a good start. Then I learned that all I'm creating are static web pages, which from my understanding really aren't in use anymore, at least in a professional manner.

    Of course I already knew I would at least have to add Javascript learning in order to create dynamic web pages...but now I'm also going to have to learn PHP, SQL, CMS creation, etc.

    This all seems like a ton of stuff I'm going to have to learn, which is cool, but I need sort of a checklist I follow so I don't get burnt out with too much information, or just get sidetracked with stuff I'm not ready for.

    Any help would be appreciated here. I understand that this is a pretty large undertaking...I just need an order of operations to follow here so I can build a solid foundation.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Hi LUGZ. Welcome to SitePoint.

    I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the ever growing mountain of required knowledge I'm going to have to possess in order to do this as a profession.
    Don't worry, these forums attest to the fact that many people make a living out of web design without knowing much about it at all.

    HTML and CSS are a good start, but as you say, more is really needed. Don't panic, though. While knowledge of JS is ideal, you can get away with using pre-made scripts like jQuery that do most of the common things, so fancy effects like popup galleries etc. are plug and play and free, too.

    And although things like PHP and SQL are important for dynamic websites, there are many CMSes available that have this all done in advance for you. So even if you are going to learn PHP etc. properly, you don't have to do so before you can create fancy websites with lots of bells and whistles.

    So my suggestion is to keep refining your HTML/CSS skills, learn how to use jQuery (the essentials will take you an hour at most) and pick a good CMS that will be able to handle most of what you envisage doing. Spend a bit of time learning that CMS and how it works, so that you know you can provide a website with plenty of functionality, even if you don't know how it all works. (Let's face it, most people don't find out how a car works before they entrust their lives to it.)

    Then, knowing that you can build cool websites, gradually learn more about JS, PHP and the rest, in order to gain more confidence and power to do what you really want to do.

    That's my approach, anyhow. I'm currently working on the JS part ... slowly.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    Hi LUGZ. Welcome to SitePoint.



    Don't worry, these forums attest to the fact that many people make a living out of web design without knowing much about it at all.

    HTML and CSS are a good start, but as you say, more is really needed. Don't panic, though. While knowledge of JS is ideal, you can get away with using pre-made scripts like jQuery that do most of the common things, so fancy effects like popup galleries etc. are plug and play and free, too.

    And although things like PHP and SQL are important for dynamic websites, there are many CMSes available that have this all done in advance for you. So even if you are going to learn PHP etc. properly, you don't have to do so before you can create fancy websites with lots of bells and whistles.

    So my suggestion is to keep refining your HTML/CSS skills, learn how to use jQuery (the essentials will take you an hour at most) and pick a good CMS that will be able to handle most of what you envisage doing. Spend a bit of time learning that CMS and how it works, so that you know you can provide a website with plenty of functionality, even if you don't know how it all works. (Let's face it, most people don't find out how a car works before they entrust their lives to it.)

    Then, knowing that you can build cool websites, gradually learn more about JS, PHP and the rest, in order to gain more confidence and power to do what you really want to do.

    That's my approach, anyhow. I'm currently working on the JS part ... slowly.
    Thanks for the advice!

    I'm going to stick with HTML and CSS for the next week or so until I know for sure that I have a solid foundation that I can build upon with more advanced areas.

    However, I'm sort of facing a quandary with my education. I'm wondering if I should continue down my self teaching path, or if I should instead pursue "formal" education via a university?

    Unfortunately, due to my location, my only option would be online education. But would I really gain anything more from online courses than I am right now? Or, would I essentially just be paying for a couple lines of text on a resume?

    Or, would I gain a much better education by using sources like W3schools, forums, blogs, along with sources like Lynda.com and topic specific books?

    Again, thanks for any advice here.

  4. #4
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Web design is unusual in that you can teach it to yourself, using all the various resources available. Your best resume is demonstrations of what you can do. Not all learning resources are as good as others, so make sure to use resources that are up to date. Sites like w3school are getting a bad reputation for being out of date. Hanging around here won't do you any harm, though.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    Web design is unusual in that you can teach it to yourself, using all the various resources available. Your best resume is demonstrations of what you can do. Not all learning resources are as good as others, so make sure to use resources that are up to date. Sites like w3school are getting a bad reputation for being out of date. Hanging around here won't do you any harm, though.
    Hmm, now that I've researched the courses through Sitepoint and Learnable...I may consider investing in them instead of other sources.

    Now, I may not be able to get a completely unbiased opinion here, and I'm certainly not trying to ruffle any feathers...but I'm wondering if anyone could speak on the quality of the courses offered through learnable? Do they stack up well against something like Lynda.com?

    And what exactly does the $7/month membership actually get me? It says I get 2 credits per month, which equals to 2 courses...but then in small print it says that only a very small number of courses are 2 credits...so will I get able to get the web development courses under this membership, or would they end up costing me extra? Could not find any credit total for these courses, so I couldn't tell what 2 credits would get me.

    Anyway, thanks again for the assistance here...I think I'm finally starting to get a clear path to my eventual career in web development

    edit: Nvm, I think I read that small print wrong...I guess it's saying that only a small number of courses are 2 credits, implying that most are on a 1:1 ratio. Unless that's wrong, I think I'm going to sign up tonight and get started!

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot meganerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUGZ View Post
    However, I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the ever growing mountain of required knowledge I'm going to have to possess in order to do this as a profession.
    Accept it. That feeling never goes away.

    Quote Originally Posted by LUGZ View Post
    Then I learned that all I'm creating are static web pages, which from my understanding really aren't in use anymore, at least in a professional manner.
    They are and they are still useful but most sites require something dynamic; a combination of scripting and/or programming languages.

    Quote Originally Posted by LUGZ View Post
    I need sort of a checklist I follow so I don't get burnt out with too much information, or just get sidetracked with stuff I'm not ready for.
    Start with HTML/CSS. Forget about everything else, just learn those two first. From there, take the time to research each scripting language to discover the benefits and the unique capabilities of each one. It may be a matter of trying out a few and seeing what clicks.

    Leave CMS, Search Engine Marketing and everything that doesn't have to do with direct script out to learn later. It's helpful to have a core background before learning those.

  7. #7
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUGZ View Post
    I'm wondering if anyone could speak on the quality of the courses offered through learnable? Do they stack up well against something like Lynda.com?
    I haven't done the Lynda courses, so I can't compare. The Learnable courses are really good, but the ones I've done are pretty much 'crash course' types. They are not necessarily step-by-step, comprehensive introductions to a subject. So I'd hesitate to advise starting with them, unless you want a really powerful kick start (I'm particularly thinking of the JS and PHP courses). Personally, I much prefer books, which tend to be a much more comprehensive, step-by-step intro to a subject. It can be hard to get started with a book, so if this is the case, the deep end approach of the video courses can be really useful.

    And what exactly does the $7/month membership actually get me? It says I get 2 credits per month, which equals to 2 courses...but then in small print it says that only a very small number of courses are 2 credits...so will I get able to get the web development courses under this membership
    Well, the new focus for Learnable is web design courses only, so that deal almost certainly means that most web-related courses cost 1 credit. Presumably if a particular course costs 2 credits, that will be made clear for that course. I hope so, anyhow.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUGZ View Post

    Unfortunately, due to my location, my only option would be online education. But would I really gain anything more from online courses than I am right now? Or, would I essentially just be paying for a couple lines of text on a resume?

    Or, would I gain a much better education by using sources like W3schools, forums, blogs, along with sources like Lynda.com and topic specific books?
    For online training, take a look at the courses offered by the HTML Writers Guild, at hwg.org. I've gained skill through the online classes which provide interaction with an instructor and classmates. The courses include assignments and projects which must be completed to receive a passing grade, just like a formal classroom.


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