The only way to learn is to do

If you want to be a web developer, here’s the most valuable piece of advice you will ever receive:

The only way to learn is to do

It’s that easy. Most of you already probably know this. And for many of you, the advice may be unnecessary. The vast majority of web developers I’ve met are drawn to the field because at heart, they are makers and doers. They want to learn how to program the web so they can make a website that supports a business they want to start, to promote a club they’re in, to share their voice with the world. The freedom of the web lends an amazing power to the people — it’s the freedom to create, share and connect with the world. And by learning a little bit of code, we can more easily and effectively do all of these things.

I learned HTML because I was in a punk rock band that I wanted to promote. I didn’t know anyone at the time who could create a website for us, so I figured out how to do it on my own. It was basic and ugly (I’m pretty sure it included the <blink> tag) and I’m glad it doesn’t still exist, otherwise I’d have to link to it here out of my natural inclination toward full-disclosure. Regardless, I made a website from scratch, with my own knowledge (a little help from Yahoo! GeoCities) simply by diving in and figuring it out.

Web development is all about just diving in and figuring it out.

As you’re first getting your feet wet with making websites and web apps, the best advice I can give is to just start building something. Just start doing. Don’t wait until you know everything. Don’t wait until you have every PHP function memorized. Don’t even know what PHP is or what it’s capable of? That’s fine. You’ll get there.


So here’s what you do:

Think of a website or project you want to build. If you don’t already have something in mind, just make it up. Then let that project lead you through a course of learning. Well, you’ll need to know how a website works first, then you’ll need some html, then some CSS, then depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, you may venture into jQuery, javascript, WordPress, PHP, MySQL, etc. As you continue to make and do you’ll be picking up new skills and expanding your knowledge very quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be an unstoppable web hacking ninja.


What do you want to make?


photo credit: innoxiuss cc

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