Every day, thousands of us take a leap into the Web development industry, while those who are established are constantly migrating to or learning new web technologies. The web is full of technical, in-depth tutorials, but a decent introductory article relating to learning new web technologies can be very difficult to find. If you are like many people who want to have their own website or if you are already familiar with some core web technologies and want to learn new ones, you have probably looked at the coding behind those web pages with great confusion, or have been bamboozled by jargon and thought to yourself “I could never do that!”
Well, guess what? You can! It’s not as hard as it looks. I’m going to show you how to take your first step into any web technology new to you, be it HTML or PHP. So when you’re ready, grab a cup of coffee and carry on reading!
You can make it!
If you are an absolute beginner in the web industry, you might be a bit frustrated at first. With time, you’ll find yourself more comfortable with all the terminology, culture and processes. The key in making your learning easier and enjoyable is to love what you do – develop a real passion for web design and development. If others can make it, then surely you can – believe in yourself. The web is very flexible and constantly evolving; there is nothing that we can point with any amount of assurance and state that it’s the final word.
Gather your learning resources
I mentioned earlier that the web is full of technical tutorials to get you started, but we all love simplicity. While in the early learning stages, we do not want to hear complicated jargon and techno-babble; we only want to hear what it takes to make our site a success using available web technologies in simple terminology. Thus we naturally gravitate to those with a simpler message. So the key for a successful starting point is that you need to choose those messages carefully, the ones that appeal most to you and those you are most comfortable with.
Know your tools
Web design or web development, like any trade consists of a number of tools that help you to achieve goals. You need to take care in choosing and using your tools – which are usually software. Remember that they can’t all be learned simultaneously; in fact, one by one is the best way, but do try a few different ones so you can identify those that are most helpful and suited to your skill set for becoming proficient in your chosen area.
Practice makes perfect
Now that you have ample resources and have your toolbox to start learning your chosen web technology, do read them carefully. Almost all technical articles contain sample code snippets; try implementing them whenever you can. This will get you used to looking at and working with code – you’ll begin understanding it more rapidly. Don’t just go about reading tutorial after tutorial without putting things into practice, otherwise you’ll constantly find yourself back at square one. Perhaps at first you may not get it right, but try again, then again if need be – after all, “practice makes perfect.”
One by one!
Do not try to learn several web technologies at the same time. It may be very confusing if you plan to learn several at once, and in the end, you will find yourself with an insufficient knowledge in each of these technologies. When you find a technology you are comfortable with, learn it in-depth – it will serve you well and act as a springboard to other tools and technologies. I have seen many people who just learned some basic HTML at first, and when they started scripting in PHP/ASP, they had to go back to learning HTML in depth as they had failed to grasp the concept.
If you are still reading this article, I assume that you are very serious in learning a new web technology. My last advice would be to keep yourself up-to-date regarding the latest development in that technology, otherwise important changes may pass you by – leaving you with a wealth of knowledge that is obsolete. New standards are constantly being introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium and new techniques are being discovered by research companies and visionaries. Keep current by making regular visits to the official site of that technology (e.g. for PHP you can visit PHP.net)
I hope that this article assists you in your efforts in migrating to or learning any new web technologies. Before closing, I’d like to add that the Web Industry is not just for geeks; everyone can participate and learn a few things along the way.