About this course
Research, fundamentals & practice
Trying to figure out how to learn web design and build websites? Web development is a complex field to get involved in, thanks in part to its constantly moving philosophies and standards. If you want to become a full-time web professional, you might be in for a bumpy ride.
Fortunately, getting started on your journey can be somewhat simple. There are plenty of resources to help you begin, including books, websites, and practice tools. Many doors are open to you — it’s just a case of choosing one and forging ahead. In this article, we’ll outline three steps explaining how to learn web design and development. By the end, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a full-fledged programming pro. Let’s get started!
How to learn web design
Learn the basic principles.
Practice, practice, practice!
Let’s look at each step in more detail …
1. Research first.
Before you dive into the field of web development, you’ll first want to narrow down your goals. This is a large and multifaceted industry, so it’s important to figure out which specific niches you might like to work in. Graphic design? WordPress development? Or something else entirely? You’ll want to dig deeper into the areas that pique your interest.
You’ll develop a focused path and gain a head start on your chosen field. This step doesn’t have to be complicated, as you’re simply trying to identify something you want to explore further. To do so, you can:
- Read some of the classic web development and design books.
- Visit sites, such as Awwwards or The Best Designs, and look for design elements you’re drawn to.
- Learn how to inspect the code on other websites. You’ll want to dissect how they work and make an educated guess as to why they were built that way.
Research like this can often tell you more about what you don’t want to do, which is an easy way to work through your options. However, you don’t have to narrow down your choice to a single winner at this stage. As long as you have some clear ideas about what you’d like to get involved in, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.
2. Learn the basic principles.
Much like any other industry, there are certain development and design fundamentals that form a basic foundation for the field. Learning these will give you a solid understanding of why you’re doing something, rather than simply copying others’ work. It will also increase the quality of your decisions and enable you to speak with authority to future clients.
We can’t cover every aspect of how to learn web design and development fundamentals, but here are a few solid jumping-off points to get you started:
- Coding best practices. There are plenty of resources from leading companies on important coding standards. For example, Google has a dedicated developer website introducing the latest updates and sharing the basics of programming.
- Layout design. Without this fundamental skill, your visitors’ browsing experiences would be severely hampered. You want to create a layout that is both intuitive and visually appealing.
- Typography and colour theory. This can be quite the rabbit hole. You’ll at least want to ground yourself in the basics of typography choice and colour theory before getting too far.
- User experience (UX) and user interface (UI). This is another vast and sometimes complex area. While reading a quality article or two can be a good start, you may want to take a suitable course if this is an area you want to learn more about.
You’ll also want to keep abreast of any design trends that pop up over time and take some time to read about how other developers work.
3. Practice, practice, practice!
On a personal note, I first learned to design websites during the ‘90s — a period when Yahoo’s Geocities was the WordPress.com of the day, and the Space Jam website was the gold standard of design. In fact, I learned HTML from Lycos’ Webmonkey and entered the code via my Sega Dreamcast.
The takeaway here is that the tools you have shouldn’t restrict you — learning by doing is the way you’ll net success. T-shaped developers, people who can utilize their knowledge to apply themselves to other areas outside of their expertise, are becoming increasingly valuable, so learning about a wide range of topics is a smart idea.
Before you actually begin coding, you’ll first want to choose a suitable text editor (although finding a perfect match is not vital at this stage). You should also install all of the popular browsers (especially the development versions), as they can help you design with a wide range of users in mind.
After that, you’ll be ready to begin coding!
Next, you might want to look at learning server-side languages such as Python or Ruby. There are also plenty of courses you can take from the likes of Codecademy and freeCodeCamp, at various price points.
Our final piece of advice is to create websites regularly, in all manner of styles and designs. Write a lot of code, and get feedback from sites such as Stack Overflow and Reddit. You can also use live coding platforms such as CodePen and JSFiddle to share your work, but remember to not take any criticism or harsh comments too personally!
Given the constantly moving goalposts, getting started with web design and development can seem like a difficult endeavour. However, it’s not that hard a task if you have a clear path to follow. Use these three steps as a guide as you begin your programming career.