Web development is a valuable skill as almost everything is online nowadays, and most businesses need a website, but can you study web development on your own?
Studying web development is completely possible on your own. While a degree in Computer Science can help, it is not essential. Many companies prefer experience above qualifications, and self-taught developers are often better equipped at problem-solving, a valuable skill every developer needs.
There is no formal degree in web development, making it accessible to anyone with access to a computer and the internet and a desire to learn.
The best way to learn web development is by completing exercises and practicing your skills.
Can You Learn Web Development Independently?
Learning a new skill requires dedication and persistence, and web development is no different. Remember the first time you learned to ride a bike or other skill?
All new things feel difficult in the beginning. Pushing through the challenging times will make it possible to learn web development on your own.
The steps below will give you all you need to make your journey easier and put you one step ahead!
You can become skillful in web development with dedication, consistency, and lots of practice!
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1. Front-End, Back-End, Or Full-Stack Development?
So, where do you start? Firstly, you need to decide what part of web development you are interested in.
There are three kinds of web developers:
- Front-end developers
- Back-end developers
- Full-stack developers
Front-end developers code the parts of the website that the user sees (and that run in the browser) and often work with web designers to bring the designer’s vision to life.
Front-end developers need to know the following skills:
Back-end developers are also called server-side developers. Back-end developers code the parts of the website that are not visible to the user but crucial in the site’s function.
Things like storing the log-in details of a website (stored in servers) are part of back-end developers’ tasks.
Some languages and programs that back-end developers need to be skilled at include (but are not limited to):
- Git & GitHub
Full-stack developers are skilled in both front and back-end development. Although Full-stack development takes more time to study, being familiar with all aspects of web development will give you more leverage in your career.
You may not know which part of development you prefer until you start studying, so it is a good idea to start with front-end development and take it from there.
Front-end development is significantly easier than back-end, and you can always continue studying back-end while you work as a front-end developer.
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2. Time-Block To Stay Consistent
Once you have decided what part of web development to study, allocate time for studying. Learning a new skill takes time and can sometimes feel daunting, so consistency is key!
Time-blocking is particularly effective for building a regular study routine.
When and how long you study will depend on your schedule and personality. Some people prefer to study before work while others are night owls concentrating better late evening when everything is quiet.
The time is not as important as frequency, but an hour a day is a good time to spend on your studies.
3. Set SMART Goals
Along with time management, setting goals will allow you to stay on track and keep you motivated on days when you feel uninspired.
- Specific – be as specific as possible, e.g., finish the first chapter of HTML by next week Wednesday at 2 pm
- Measurable – online courses are fantastic for measuring your progress (each section gets marked off as you finish it)
- Achievable – setting goals that are too ambitious will set you up for failure and demotivate you
- Relevant/realistic – if you only have 30 minutes each day to study, trying to finish a course in a month is unrealistic and will stress you out and make you feel like a failure
- Time-bound – without a clear “deadline,” there is no urgency
4. Find A Support Group Of Other Web Developers
In the same way that we exercise better in a group, surrounding yourself with people on a similar path as you will do wonders for your motivation and dedication.
Meetups and Facebook groups are great places to meet like-minded individuals.
Many online courses have a large community of students who are always happy to advise fellow students.
The presence of an online community is a good indication of how good a course is!
5. Beware Of Tutorial Purgatory
With the wealth of information and endless tutorials, it can be easy to get stuck in a loop of YouTube videos but never actually do any coding yourself!
Tutorial purgatory is a common mistake many students make.
To avoid this, the best approach is to use focus on one topic (for example, HTML elements) covered by your chosen course and use only two or three additional sources to gain further knowledge, like
MDN web docs and your favorite YouTube channel. Practice by doing exercises at the end of each section before moving on to the next.
HTML and CSS are used for static websites, so it’s a good idea to study both (with small exercises as you go) and do a few larger projects at the end of your CSS section.
What Do You Need To Study Web Development On Your Own?
While web development can be challenging to learn, it is really easy to start! Unlike some similar fields like web or graphic design, you don’t need a high-end computer to start development. Here’s what you need:
1. A Computer
While you may see developers on social media with high-end computers and fancy setups, it is not essential but rather “nice to haves.”
Most mid-range computers or laptops will work perfectly fine for development.
The following will suffice for newbie developers:
- Processor: Intel i5
- RAM: 8GB
Back-end development requires a bit more power, depending on the programs you use, so upgrade to 16GB RAM if you are studying back-end, and opt for SSD storage above SATA.
2. A Browser
You will need a browser to display the websites you build. Although any browser will do, there is a handful that developers love for their extra features.
Popular browsers for web development include:
3. A Text Editor
Most computers have a built-in text editor (notepad for PC), but there are many other text editors specifically for coding with special features that will make your life easier!
The following text editors are great for development:
The Best Online Resources For Studying Web Development
We are privileged to live in a time where information is at our fingertips! Unfortunately, all this information can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, we have curated the information for you!
You can find many free or paid online courses for web development. Some online courses offer a certificate at completion.
While a certificate looks cool on your LinkedIn profile, online courses’ true benefit is their structure and outline.
When you study independently, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you are unfamiliar with the topic. You don’t know what you don’t know.
A course gives you direction and guides you from beginning to end.
The best online courses (free and paid) for developers are:
- Codecademy – the $191.88 / year fee for pro is worth it! Codecademy Pro offers career paths that guide you from beginner to career level, including interview preparation!
- Udemy – filter through free or paid, rating, experience level, or language
- FreeCodeCamp – a free resource for learning web development
- MDN Web Docs – an open-source resource for web developers built by web developers. Even experienced developers often refer back to the web docs.
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Which Web Development Course Is Best In Udemy?
We highly recommend “The Web Developer Bootcamp 2022” by Colt Steele! This course contains over 63 hours of content, has a very high rating of 4.7, and has over 700k students!
In addition, what makes this course the best (in our opinion) is the following:
- Colt clearly and easily explains complicated concepts (the right tutor makes a difference!)
- There is a large community of helpful students, which makes the course feel like a regular, in-person course – the course has a discord channel and private Facebook group
- Colt, along with two moderators, are available to answer any questions you have
- The course gets updated regularly – this is a huge bonus as you have lifetime access to all courses you buy on Udemy
- This is a full-stack course with lots of exercises and projects
YouTube is a popular online source for learning web development! It is free, the videos are extremely helpful, and there are plenty of “walk-throughs” and “code-alongs.”
We highly recommend subscribing to these YouTube channels:
Recommended Books For Web Development
Books have always been valuable information vessels, but they are often forgotten with modern technology. Many great web development books are worth investing in and will serve as reference books in your career.
Books also offer time away from the screen while still allowing you to learn.
Our list of must-have books on web development:
Social Media Accounts To Follow For Web Development
You may not learn much from social media, but following other developers motivates and inspires you. You may even make a new friend!
A few great accounts to follow are:
The Best Web Development Podcasts
What’s superb about podcasts is that you can listen to them on your daily commute, at the gym, or while cooking, running, or doing your chores. Even if you don’t understand all the terms, you’d be surprised how much you pick up by simply listening.
Some of the best podcasts for developers include:
- Code Newbie
- Syntax – one of the best podcasts for web developers!
- CSS-Tricks: Screen Casts
- The freeCodeCamp Podcast
- Indie Hackers
- Front End Happy Hour
- The Rabbit Hole
Other Valuable Online Sites/Resources For Web Developers
Web development is one of those careers where experience is more valuable than a formal qualification, which is why it is possible to study development on your own! To be successful and land a job as a web developer, you need to build projects. Practice is key!
Many fantastic sites offer challenges, projects, or exercises for you to practice your skills, such as:
How To Land A Job As A Web Developer
Landing your first development job can be intimidating, but if you are confident in your skills and have a great portfolio, you will land a job!
Job hunting takes time, and you can expect rejection along the way. Follow our steps to boost your chances of getting your first web developer job:
Showcase Your Portfolio Professionally
The more high-quality projects you have in your portfolio, the better your chances of landing a job. Equally important is professionally showcasing your projects.
Keep your portfolio updated with the best, most recent projects, and continue doing so once you land a job.
The most effective way to display your work is by building your own portfolio site. The portfolio site is a part of your portfolio too!
Most portfolio sites are more suitable for web designers (UX and UI) but not the best for developers. Having your own portfolio site also makes sharing on various job portals easier.
Where To Look For Web Development Jobs
So, you finished your course, built lots of projects, and have an impressive portfolio to show off! Congratulations! Let the job hunt begin!
There are many, many job sites today, some better than others, but a few are particularly great for techies such as web developers.
Best Job Portals For Developers:
Best Job Portals For Freelance Developers:
Best Job Portals For Remote Development Jobs:
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions by aspiring web developers, other than which courses to study, include;
Can You Learn Web Development In Three Months?
While learning web development in three months is possible, you would have to devote most of your day (a full work day at least) to your studies, and it may not be enough time to complete bigger projects.
That said, learning front-end development is possible in three months, but back-end would require more time.
A more realistic timeline would be six months to a year, especially if you are studying to be a back-end or full-stack developer.
Although you can learn front-end in three months, giving yourself the time of six months will allow you to complete more projects, improve your skills and cement your knowledge.
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Can I Learn Web Development On An iPad?
You can learn a great deal on an iPad by watching YouTube or Udemy videos and reading MDN web docs. However, coding is best done on a desktop, such as a pc or mac, and you will certainly need one to study.
If you have a desktop and an iPad, the iPad will be handy for learning on the go (on the bus on your way to work, for example), while you can use the desktop for the rest.
If you have neither, it is not worth investing in an iPad. Instead, buy a desktop only.
Is Front-End Or Back-End Development More In Demand?
Both front-end and back-end are in demand, but the front-end is easier to learn, so the competition is tougher. However, there are still plenty of jobs for front-end developers, and starting your own company is always an option to consider.
Back-end has many different branches as there are various languages and sectors within the back-end world. Full-stack developers are the most sought after due to their flexibility, especially for smaller companies and start-ups.
Ultimately, there is a great demand for all web developers, so the path you feel most passionate about is a better indication of what you should study.
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Web development is an excellent career path that continues to be in high demand, and it’s more than possible to learn on your own.
Experience gained through building projects takes preference over completing a course, so practice, practice, practice!