If you’ve really tried to become a web developer in the past but have struggled OR if there are certain areas of web dev that you’re wanting to improve in this is for you. Here is what I’ve found to be the best way to learn web development in 2022.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the traditional way of learning things kind of stinks.
You sit at a lecture. Someone talks. You take notes. You get tested. And you go on to forget it from that point on.
Sure you might walk away with a bit more knowledge BUT for the most part, you’re not much better off than when you started.
The same is true for learning web development.
I’ve known people who have gone through tutorial after tutorial only to walk away without much skill after it was all finished.
And, don’t think it’s just tutorials!
I’ve talked to people who have been through codecamps, AND dare I say it, entire degrees in computer science.
They all say the same thing in the end:
“I didn’t get much out of it.”
What is The Best Way to Learn Web Development?
So, what is the best way to learn web development?
The answer is simple BUT it’s also a difficult pill to swallow.
Because one of the main traits of being a human is that we are resistant to change.
That’s why it’s hard to lose weight.
That’s why it’s difficult to change the habits we don’t like.
We don’t like change. It’s painful. Our bodies actually resist it! There’s even a term for it called homeostasis.
So, if you’re going to learn web development, and I mean REALLY LEARN it, it’s going to be painful.
There will be times when you want to quit.
There will be times when you feel like an absolute idiot.
There will be times when you question your sanity.
But, if you push past that pain, if you just keep going you will come out the other side with a whole new set of skills and knowledge that you can get paid a lot of money for, and honestly, it’s a lot of fun.
What is Web Development?
Before we dive too deep let’s talk about what web development actually is.
Web development is the creation and maintenance of things we use on the internet.
There are two parts to it:
The frontend part is what you see. It’s the color of the web page, how everything is laid out, and even a little bit of stuff that interacts with you when you mess with it like the click of a button.
The backend is what you don’t see. It’s the storing of your email in a database so you can login to your account OR the processing of a payment.
For the backend stuff, you use languages like PHP, Python or Ruby.
When you master both frontend and backend languages you’re considered a full-stack developer.
Does everyone go that route? No. But, if you’re asking me that’s a fine path and one of the best ways to learn web development.
Learn How to Learn The Best Way to Learn Web Development (no that’s not a typo)
Normally, at this point, someone would start talking about all of the best tutorials they’ve found and the best websites or YouTube channels to learn web development.
BUT, this is where most people get it WRONG when it comes to learning web development.
You can’t just go straight to some learning platform OR sign up for some course and think that’s enough to actually become a web developer.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ll get to tutorials. They’re an important part of the process.
BUT, I know way too many people that have gotten stuck in tutorial purgatory and have never been able to break out of it…or do you graduate from purgatory?
Either way, you have to take a step back and think about HOW to best learn web development NOT just WHERE to learn web development.
Scott Young calls this metalearning in his book Ultralearning.
Essentially, you need to learn about learning.
Before you begin, take a step back and be thoughtful about a game plan for really understanding what it is you’re trying to master.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in an endless loop of half-hearted attempts that get you nowhere closer to learning web development than you would be if you tried studying for a test by sleeping with a textbook on your face every night.
So, before we talk about WHERE to learn web development let’s talk about HOW to learn web development.
1. Immerse Yourself
The reason why most people never really learn web development is that they don’t go all in. There are some things you can casually learn but web development is not one of them.
It’s kind of like learning an entirely new language. If you REALLY want to learn Spanish, you’ve got to go to Mexico or Spain and force yourself to not speak anything other than Spanish.
That’s exactly what Scott Young did to become fluent in 7 different languages only spending 3 months at a time to learn each.
So, if you want to learn web development LIKE REALLY LEARN IT then you’ve got to immerse yourself.
Does that mean you need to spend 8 hours a day hacking away? Not necessarily. But, it does mean you can’t just spend 5 minutes a day OR even 30 minutes a day.
So, prepare to set aside a significant chunk of time to really learn. Give yourself at least an hour or two.
Listen, I know all of us feel like we don’t have enough time for anything really. BUT, honestly, we all make time for the stuff that is important to us.
So, when you say, “I don’t have enough time to spend 1 to 2 hours a day learning web development,” you’re not really saying you don’t have enough time. You’re saying learning web development isn’t IMPORTANT enough to you to set that kind of time aside.
And, listen, that’s okay!
I’m a dad with 4 kids. One of them is a toddler. He’s cute but he’s a lot of work.
There are seasons when other things are just more important. BUT, my challenge to you is don’t be passive about your schedule. Take a second and really evaluate how you’re spending time.
Figure out if there are any holes in your bucket meaning: look to see if there is anything you’re doing that could trim down on in your schedule or cut out completely.
I once talked to a guy that didn’t feel like he had enough time to learn web development. When I drilled down into it, “I don’t have enough time,” meant he wasn’t willing to stop going to the gym for an hour and read for another hour.
If that’s you, then I get it. I’m not here to give you a guilt trip about your priorities.
I’m only trying to tell you that if you really want to learn web development you’re going to have to make it a priority.
2. Work Backwards
One of the best ways to learn web development is by learning through projects. In other words, start with a project you’d like to build and work backward from there.
Want to build an app? Want to create a membership website from scratch?
Start with that!
Now, figure out what you need to do to get to the end goal. Let the project be your education.
The reason so many people feel like they don’t actually know anything after they get done with a course or a tutorial is that there’s not a lot of REAL context for what they’re learning.
In other words, the learning is in a very sterile environment where you’ve been set up to not be frustrated.
Oftentimes, the person who is teaching has edited out all of the mistakes they made and the speed bumps they ran into. That’s not real life!
Sometimes code that should work doesn’t work! And, the process of figuring out why it’s not working is a HUGE part of really learning web development.
But, you don’t get that when you’re following a tutorial where the instructor literally GIVES you the answer. You only get it from an actual project.
So, start at the finish line. What types of projects do you want to be working on?
Pick one of those and then learn as you build it piece by piece.
3. Know Your Resources for Learning Web Development
Okay, NOW we talk about tutorials and platforms to learn web development. It’s not like these things are bad. They’re super helpful, in fact.
It’s just that you shouldn’t START there.
Fortunately, there are a TON of resources available for learning web development these days.
When I was first getting started things were a bit sparse. BUT, as time has gone on you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent amount of resources for learning web development from a simple google search.
Here are some of my favorite resources:
I always point people to Codecademy when they are first getting started. I love the way they teach you with an interactive step-by-step system.
You get a set of instructions and then you’re asked to do something in a web browser based text editor. You see the results immediately.
This gets you coding right away and has you skip some of the pre-requisite steps that can sometimes stifle motivation. Will you have to learn those steps eventually? Yes.
BUT, it’s not something that is too terribly difficult to master once you’ve got some actual coding experience under your belt.
A caveat, there are plenty of free tutorials to work through BUT if you want access to their full library of courses you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes.
But, even if you just stick to the free courses you will have most certainly learned something.
2. Free Code Camp
Free Code Camp is a non-profit organization that has a number of learning tracks to choose from. There’s everything from Responsive Web Design to Machine Learning with Python.
I love Free Code Camp. And, I love their mission. They are a small team that has done a phenomenal job creating resources for folks looking for the best way to learn web development.
They have a similar interactive system to learn where you read a lesson and then implement it straight away in their text editor app.
YouTube is another great place to learn web development.
I actually have a friend that started his learning journey with web development on YouTube. He became proficient enough as both a frontend and backend developer from the tutorials he followed on YouTube alone to get a full-stack developer position with a major company.
Trust me you’ve heard of them.
When I tried digging a little deeper to see if he had some strategy he simply said, “If I had a question I would just type it in the YouTube search bar until I found something that helped.”
That being said, there are a few channels that I personally love.
Okay, here’s a shameless plug for the Self-Made Web Designer channel 😂 I don’t do a lot of coding tutorials BUT I will one day my friends.
The Net Ninja is a very popular channel AND has tons of great tutorials ranging from frontend to backend technologies. You can’t argue with almost 1 million subscribers AND friends of mine who swear by the channel.
Programming with Mosh is another great channel with nearly 3 million subscribers. Mosh is fun to listen to and has a laid-back approach to teaching.
There are tons of other great channels BUT those are great ones to start with.
Bootcamps are another great place to learn web development.
I’ve worked with a few folks that learned everything they needed to know to land a web development job solely from a BootCamp.
The prices for bootcamps can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
There are options to go full-time or to finish up part-time.
I’ve written a great guide on the 5 best part-time, online web design bootcamps.
I feel like it’s worth mentioning that as you begin learning you will need to become familiar with Stackoverflow.
Can you learn everything you need to know to be a web developer starting from scratch? NO. But, it’s an invaluable resource to know how to navigate.
Stackoverflow is a community of developers that both ask and answer questions related to web development.
When you get stuck learning how to code you will invariably begin googling your heart out. AND, the pages that will likely show up at the very top of your search results will be from Stackoverflow.
So, do yourself a favor and create an account now and start doing a little searchy searchy on the site. I promise you one day, you’ll be a pro.
4. Learn the Reason Behind Why Your Code Works
Now, that you’ve been entrusted with some really great resources for learning web development DON’T just go out there and start copying and pasting code hoping that it works.
That’s not really learning, AND you’ll find that you have to work harder to get something to work NOT knowing the core concepts than it would be just to bite the bullet and learn the stuff.
If you’re going to really learn web development you have to understand the REASON WHY stuff works not just THAT it works. Sure, it’s arguable that you could build a career off of copying other people’s code.
Honestly, there are times when I have to do it myself.
But, don’t let yourself off the hook just because something is working. Dig in a little deeper and try to get to the foundational concepts.
That will help you learn things quicker and save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.
Something I do personally is keep a running list of concepts I have a hard time understanding OR questions I haven’t quite mastered.
When I have a free moment I’ll pull up the list OR in my car when I’m driving somewhere I’ll go over the list in my mind.
This is another great hack for folks who are busy. Try recalling things you’ve learned when you’re doing something mindless like driving or standing in line.
But, don’t get into a wreck thinking about event propagation.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Look Stupid
When you’re learning web development or anything really, you’ve got to give yourself a pass for not knowing what you don’t know.
I know that sounds kind of obvious BUT a lot of times I personally get scared to ask questions because I’m afraid I should already know the answer to what I’m asking.
And, a lot of times people that are further along in web development will rattle off something that I’ve never heard of before but they’ll say it so nonchalantly that it sounds like I should know what they’re talking about.
But, when that happens YOU HAVE TO STOP them and say, “Could you please explain what you were just talking about.”
In other words, you can’t be afraid to look stupid.
People have a good understanding of web development because they themselves have spent a lot of time making mistakes because all the things they don’t know.
They made those mistakes and looked dumb themselves BUT they learned from their mistakes and were much less likely to make them again in the future.
You won’t know everything you need to know about web development when you’re just getting started. I would actually argue that the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know much at all.
So, always have a posture of humility when it comes to learning AND if something doesn’t make sense don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
6. Learn to Love Frustration
And, now we circle back to what I first mentioned at the beginning of this article. You will get frustrated when you’re learning to code just as you get uncomfortable learning anything new.
But, you’ve got to get comfortable with the frustration if you really want to learn web development. In fact, I’d argue that you need to learn to like the frustration.
That frustration is a sign that you are uncovering holes in your knowledge or weak areas in your understanding. And, when you learn of areas you can improve THAT’S YOUR CHANCE to fill in those holes or get better altogether.
I love what Adam Grant talks about in his book “Think Again.”
He says that it’s not enough to just be okay with being wrong. You have to actually learn to love being wrong. Because when you find out you’re wrong it simply means you are one step closer to the truth.
The same is true when you encounter frustrations on your journey to learning web development.
Those frustrations mean you are just one step closer to mastering whatever language you are trying to learn.
The Best Way to Learn Web Development in 2022
At the end of the day, everyone’s journey to learn web development will look different. And, that’s okay.
I know some people who have gotten a lot out of coding bootcamps. I know others who went to the exact same BootCamp and got nothing.
But, there are some principles that are true for everyone.
If you really want to learn web development you have to go all-in and learn from the projects you work on. Spend enough time building projects in any web development language and you will eventually master it.
Tutorials are fun. Udemy has a ton you can buy for pretty cheap. But, I can guarantee you that you will never get asked, “How many tutorials have you gone through,” in a job interview.
You will only be asked to prove what you know through the projects that you have done.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making some stuff on the web.