It’s sad but true; web development takes only a short time to learn, but a lifetime to master. No matter what way you look at it, there are only two things that can make you become an expert web developer; experience and time. While you’re getting to grips with the basics and taking your first steps into this exciting and every changing world however, there are a few tricks that can make your learning more efficient and your practice more productive.
1.Master How to Teach Yourself FIRST
Before we get into the nitty gritty coding tips and tricks, here’s something useful to know. If you can master how to teach yourself – and we mean any kind of skill, not just programming – your experience with web development will be much less troublesome. Figure out what teaching methods work best for you, what makes information stay in your head, and what makes learning seem less like a chore and more like fun. Then apply that to your web development projects, and you’ll be surprised at the difference.
We know there’s much more to web development than the above. But starting out with the ‘Big 3’ and really getting a feel for how each one works (and more importantly, how they work together) is the best foundation you could possibly give yourself for what comes next. These are the cornerstones of the web, and even if you have no interest in ever designing websites, everything else always comes back to these guys. Just learn them, and learn them well.
3.Use a CSS Generator
This is most certainly not to be used as a shortcut for learning code the real way, but using a CSS generator can kick-start your memory when it comes to more complex (and forgettable) CSS code. It can save time when you’re in a hurry, or if designing isn’t your main goal. CSS3 Generator, CSS3 Maker and CSS3 Border Radius Generator are all great ones to try out, although the internet is pretty much full of various different versions.
4.Use a Programming Text Editor
A programmer without a good text editor is like a painter trying to paint without a brush. You’ll still get the job done, but it won’t exactly be as efficient or easy as it would if you had better tools. There are countless programming-friendly text editors out there for every platform; try Notepad++ for Windows or TextMate for Mac for a start. Also check out some text expansion apps that can store your most used code lines with just a few taps.
5.Get to Know Screen Sizes
Whether you’re designing or developing or both, knowing how your website or app will look on different screens and different browsers is a vital part of the job. Screenfly for the former and Browsershot for the latter are your best friends in this case. Not only will it push you to think about the bigger picture, but it will also help you to innately know what certain things will look like in various formats.
Once you’ve learned enough to start building more complex projects, using a framework to build them will make everything so much faster. It’s also a given that you’ll know how to work with at least one framework when you enter the professional web development realm. No more need to start coding from scratch; frameworks will have the basic template already. Which one you use depends on which language you’re working in; Ruby on Rails for Ruby and Django for Python are two of the more popular ones right now.
7.Reverse Develop Websites
The best way to figure out how anything works is to take it apart and see what pieces make up the whole, and web development is no different. Try ‘reverse’ developing a website – dive into the code and work your way to the bottom to see how it was built. Start with relatively simple websites when you’re starting off, then work your way up to more complex ones. We guarantee you’ll learn a hell of a lot, and it will be hugely advantageous when you build your own stuff.
8.Focus on Old Stuff
9.Keep it Simple
On a similar note, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew when you’re first learning about web development. Trying to tackle complex projects right off the bat is guaranteed to slow down your progress, confuse you, and in the worst case scenario make you give up completely. Start simple. Even if you think it’s too simple for your skill level, start there. If nothing else, the basic concepts will become ingrained in your brain forever. When you can do something in your sleep, then you can move on.
10.Read Up, Every Day
To really get into the programming mindset, you need to immerse yourself in it as much as possible. Spend just five or ten minutes every day reading programming blogs, the occasional textbook, browsing GitHub or discussing topics on forums. The information you take in will percolate in your mind while you’re doing other things, and when you return to build something, you’ll be surprised how much knowledge you can instantly apply.
11.Start Building, Today!
Most importantly, build. Building anything and everything, from simple websites to games to apps and beyond, is the one tried and true method to help you learn web development fast. You can read all the textbooks you want and use all the shortcuts, but building is the only way. Get involved in open source projects, start your own projects (even if they’re stupid or useless), follow online tutorials – just build!