Like many of us, you’re probably itching to start the New Year by learning something new. You might be thinking of learning French, learning how to bake cupcakes, or learning how to build model airplanes out of matchsticks. These are fine hobbies, but I want to suggest that you hit the ground running in 2016 by learning a skill that’s in great demand — web development.
Even if you never intend to switch careers and make money from web development, it’s a fascinating subject that will give you the skills you need to build websites and web applications. And if you are interested in beginning a new career or extending your value in a current career, web development is a great way to go.
I’m not going to pretend that web development is easy to learn. It’ll be hard work, especially if you have no coding experience, but who wants to take the easy option? You won’t be launching a WordPress competitor by March, but it’s entirely possible that within a few weeks you’ll be able to build and deploy bespoke websites, simple WordPress themes, and web applications. From there, you can take it as far as you want.
If that sounds good to you, take a look at these excellent free resources. I’ve selected resources that I think will help non-developers get a decent grounding in the core technologies of web development. They won’t turn you into a superstar developer, but they’ll give you a solid foundation to build on.
HTML / CSS
First, you’ll need the basics: to build a simple web page you need to understand two fundamental technologies: HTML for structure and content, and CSS for presentation.
Codecademy offer a great introductory track to learn HTML and CSS. They’ll take you from the very basics through to quite advanced CSS techniques, after which you’ll have no trouble at all building even fairly complex static sites. If the Codecademy approach doesn’t suit your learning style, both Dash and Khan Academy offer excellent introductory courses.
This will come as no surprise — Codecademy has an excellent PHP track. Once you get beyond the basics, take a look at PHP The Right Way and DesignPatternsPHP to learn how web developers solve common development tasks with PHP.
Web development is a satisfying hobby that can become a lucrative and intellectually satisfying career. With a little perseverance and imagination, these resources offer a great foundation for aspiring developers in 2016.