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Five Tips for Beginning Web Developers

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Web development is an incredibly popular pursuit right now. Just about every business has or is in the process of getting a website, and individuals are building personal sites to showcase their work and establish a personal brand. By some estimates, there are now over 1 billion websites serving over 3 billion people worldwide.

Even taking into account that many - if not the majority - of them are unused and essentially parked domains, that's still a lot of websites!

Web development is also a great starting point for anyone that wants to tackle more complex programming later on. It introduces you to the world of syntax, and can gradually introduce you to the logic required to flesh out complicated programs.

You also don’t necessarily need any formal education. Because development in general is largely done on trial and error, and through the gradual gaining of a personal understanding of how to solve issues using the tools at your disposal, you can theoretically jump in and start building websites at a moment’s notice and with no real investment.

These are just a few of the many reasons that more and more folks at choosing web development as their career path.

We’ve outlined tips to help people get started as freelance Web developers before, but what about those critical first steps? What type of advice would you give someone that is still considering trying out Web development for the first time?

In this guide, we will go over five quick tips for beginning web developers.

Don't Give Up

If every developer gave up the first time they saved their project and things went completely wrong, there would be no developers. Heck, there would probably not even be an Internet with anything more than “Hello World” pages.

Failure is key to success in web development. The path between your idea and the webpage you want to build is a series of problems that have to be solved, and very rarely are they solved on the first try.

Even the best developers in the world regularly come across problems that require them to save, test, and debug repeatedly until they find the right solution. It's in this that we find new and more efficient ways to get things done.

Start Simple and Work Your Way Up

It is really easy to fall into a trap where you are jumping too far ahead on a project. We see these things on webpages and they look so simple, but getting from a point where you are learning body tags in HTML to doing complex methods in JavaScript doesn’t happen overnight.

Consider starting with some beginning online courses that teach you the basics of HTML5 and CSS. This will get you where you need to be to start adding additional features to your work like incorporating PHP or JavaScript, and to do things like interact with a CMS.

You can also take classes online to help you get started in an organized setting. We have outlined some of these online learning tools in our guide.

Don’t Be Afraid to Learn New Things

You will never stop learning as a developer. There will always be a new process or a new codebase that changes anything and everything you knew before. If you want to keep up you have to constantly be open to new ideas and new methods, and be willing to learn and try new things.

The latest web technologies we are using today will be obsolete in no time, and you will need to be ready to pivot when that time comes.

Find and Use Resources Regularly

There really is no such thing as a truly original piece of code. There are entire libraries of commands, filters, and functions that you can use to solve a problem, and you can generally find them very easily online.

For example, if you’re working with WordPress and want to know how to get started with developing your own theme, there is documentation for that.

Using tools that bring documentation together from several resources can also be helpful. One solution is an app called Dash which makes it easy to search for a specific command or solution in documentation for just about every major platform out there.

We have outlined a number of additional useful resources for developers in a previous blog post.

Set Up Your Own Development Server and Play

Don’t worry about hopping in to doing professional web development work. This requires patience, and plenty of practice. You can practice to your hearts content using your own computer by setting up a development server. This server, usually hosted from the same system you’re using to code, is a small Web server that you can use to see the results of your work in a browser without having that work ever appear on the open Internet.

We outlined how we use MAMP 3.0 (now 3.5) as well as listed a number of alternatives for Windows and Linux users in a previous blog post. These solutions are inexpensive (often free) and offer you a fully functional development environment.

Once you have your development server up, then you have a virtual sandbox to play in, break things, and try out new ideas with. Practice is the best learning tool a developer can have, and a local development server is perfect for this.

Web development is a rewarding activity. It empowers you to create websites that are completely unique to your vision, and better prepares you for more advanced areas of programming.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started!

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