From time to time, I am asked by my students and peers in non-IT sectors, "How Do I become a web developer, and where do I start?".
While Vocational Training or a University degree is essential, everyone must be self-taught to some extent.
I started development when I was 16 and learning QBasic. Everybody starts at a different stage of life and I believe now is the best time to start amidst an almost infinite number of resources that can be accessed over the internet. As a matter of a fact, the vast amount of information sometimes leads to confusion and leaving the would-be students to wonder "...Where should I start?".
Below I outline 5 tips that can help point you in a guided direction and ensure that you maximize your time spent in research.
The first steps to starting something new is to be patient. You must seek to improve on your skills gradually, but do not expect an overnight transformation. Lower your expectations to your skill set and take, as they say, 'baby steps'. In parallel, you need to be willing to research. If you hit a road block, 9/10 times there is someone who has had a similar struggle, and there is someone who helped.
Always be Patient
HTML is at the base of every website. Even if the development is done in some other language, the browser will always render HTML. As a result, this is the bets language to learn in order to propel your career as a web developer.
HTML has undergone many revisions over the years and a few tutorials exist teaching older standards. For me, the best web resource to use and keep up with the current standards is W3 Schools - HTML. Here you will be able to go step-by-step and learn the dynamics of HTML. Admittedly, HTML is not the most attractive looking language, and so it will require PATIENCE stick to it and develop a degree of proficiency.
Usually, we learn HTML at the same time as CSS. HTML by itself renders very bland and unattractive pages. To add colours and change fonts, we use CSS. This will add style to our web applications improve the pages that get rendered. W3 Schools - CSS is an excellent resource to use in getting started with CSS.
Once you have gotten the hang of designing web pages, you then need to learn how to communicate with what we call a web server. The bridge between the web page and this server, and potentially a database, is a server side language. The most commonly used languages are outlined above. My personal favourites are PHP and ASP.Net.
I am not telling you that any is better than the other, nor am I suggesting that you must master them all. Each has it's own way of doing the same things essentially, which is taxiing data between the web page and the database. As you get exposure to each, you may end up liking one or two more than the others. I suggest that you seek to 'master' the one that you like, but remain adaptable to the others, as they are all in very high demand.
Learn to develop a full web application using ASP.Net and C# by enrolling in Learn ASP.Net MVC and Entity Framework (Database First). See more details here.
Once you have a grasp of the fundamentals of frontend web development and understand how back-end languages tie in, the next step is to actually start working with data and databases. Most modern web applications provide a way for users to submit data and view it at a later date. This kind of interactivity requires a database to be in play.
We need to be proficient in designing a database and managing the asset thereafter. MySQL and Microsoft SQL are very powerful industry standard databases on the market. PostgreSQL is also very popular among the technologies. Ultimately, people make careers out of creating and managing databases and this skill is essential to have as a modern day web developer.
You need to practice. I recommend that you do a personal project that coincides with the principles that you learn in each step outlined above. Don't try to do them all at once, but learn enough, do a project, get feedback and get proficient. Once you are comfortable, then move to the next step. Remember point #1 at all times and remain true to yourself along your journey.
This post guides you on how to get started on your journey as a web developer. Each step outlines an essential step you must take to be proficient and relevant in today's web development industry. Before you can begin though, you need to believe in yourself, be patient and be willing to put in the work. These will be the most defining steps you take.