How to Become a Solid Web Developer, the Short Version
Post from February 12, 2010 (↻ June 1, 2020), filed under Web Development.
This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.
Every once in a while people ping me on how to master web development and design. Given how much there’s still to learn for me this makes me blush. Chronically short on time I typically reply in just a few sentences, though I welcome to ping me again, and to keep me posted on the effort. Here’s one of my recent responses. Slightly edited.
The three major recipes, from my point of view, are these:
Read the specs, in particular HTML and CSS. Sounds intimidating at first but you’ll get a good understanding of what’s going on, and what can and cannot be done.
Practice, practice, practice. Set up your own website if you don’t have one already. Do some projects for friends, family, smaller businesses. Try to somehow get into really, really big projects—that’s where the key lessons winter.
Get hold of the best resources. Subscribe to blogs from real masters. Read only the best books. Don’t settle for anything other than expert knowledge. (It doesn’t hurt to read outstanding literature out of neighboring fields either, such as works from Edward Tufte, Donald Norman, or Jakob Nielsen.)
Of course, this is far from complete, but it reflects a good part of my professional philosophy. Which did indeed evolve to keep things short.
If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment or a message.
I think you forgot “Love the web” 😊
On February 14, 2010, 18:43 CET, Lukas said:
Thanks for sharing!
Good list. ‘See more of the Web’ could be an addition.
About best resources, ‘the wisdom to know the difference’ could be a big factor, because everyone out there would most likely present themselves as experts or gurus.
On February 17, 2010, 23:11 CET, Lev Stewart said:
Please add a bit more detail… For example, why don’t you refer to HTML5? And are there any specific blogs you’d recommend?
There’s so much to learn. But either way, I think you’re right by saying you should start with html and css. After that you can start exploring all the other aspects.
On April 7, 2010, 14:12 CEST, stef said:
i like the “Practice, practice, practice”.
a good knowledge about html and css is ok. but “passion” is the most important thing 😊
I totally agree with you. I think, for the beginning it is really important to read only the really good books or the w3c specs, so that you learn the good way to develop websites. Especially in the net and all the “webdesign blogs” there are so many tutorials, which tell you wrong or complicated ways to solve problems.
Furthermore you should be very passional and be interested in all things, that affect the website: this is not only clean an good code, but also usability, seo, accessibility, …
So I think, to be a good web worker you always should think outside of the box.
On May 20, 2010, 15:18 CEST, Aleks said:
Practice, practice, practice - it is the single way to become good web developer and web design.
On November 19, 2010, 21:24 CET, JohnnyMC said:
@Aleks yeah practice is the gold word, i’m teaching web designing, a person who wants to be a great web developer should think creative, love web and practice again and again…
Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:
Perhaps my most relevant book: CSS Optimization Basics (2018). Writing CSS is a craft. As craftspeople we strive to write high quality CSS. In CSS Optimization Basics I lay out some of the most important aspects of such CSS. (Also available in a bundle with Upgrade Your HTML and The Web Development Glossary.)
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