Before we get started, let me emphasize what I feel will be the most important takeaway from this article about web development. The thing that will help a fledgeling web developer most is a voracious hunger to learn. You will never, ever reach a point where you have mastered everything because, more than any field that I’ve experienced until now, change is constant and very aggressive. Constant self-education is the only thing that can keep your skill-set fresh. If a lifetime of teaching yourself new skills sounds terrible, you might want to look for a different career.
As you’re learning the newest hot shit, if you have to keep stopping that process to debug some HTML or CSS in your layout in addition to whatever new skill you’re trying to take on, it’s going to make forward progress a much larger challenge than it needs to be.
So, not only should you learn to walk before you run, make sure that you’re learning to walk really well and running will be much easier.
HTML (“Hypertext Markup Language”) is the basic structure of your content. In the early days of the web, people learned to make HTML do things that it was never designed for in order to throw a layer of design on top of everything but, as sites grew in complexity, we needed a more robust solution. We had the content layer in place, so it was time for a design layer.
CSS (“Cascading Style Sheets”) fills this design need. It enables web developers to separate content from the presentation of that content and significantly opens up a wide array of options. Pay close attention to some of the newest elements like Flexbox, because they will really help you out in some very basic, but powerful, ways (like vertical centering, for instance).
So we’ve got content and presentation, but how do we get some fancy interactions or business logic into the mix?
Don’t underestimate how deep you can go in even just one of these fields. I’ve found that the only way to really learn is to jump in and just start building shit. You’ll run into many roadblocks along the way but, if you’ve got the stamina and drive to keep going, those will become less and less frequent. The cliché “practice makes perfect” is apt, though I’d probably change it to something more like “practice makes better.” There will never be a “perfect” when it comes to the web because even if something is set up ideally today, I guarantee that it will become an embarrassing joke shockingly quick.