How many websites have you visited today? Did you stop and wonder who built them? – Best Tips to Get Started | Self-Taught Developers
Chances are at least one website you’ve recently visited was built, or built in part, by a self-taught developer. The industry is flooded with them.
However, there are no magic shortcuts. Learning Web development on your own is a liability requiring exact study and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Plan A Learning Path
You’re sitting in front of your computer, having just made the decision to teach yourself Web development. You’ve got many tabs of tutorials, e-courses, and Wikipedia articles you pulled up randomly after Googling “learn how to code.”
This is certainly a learning strategy, although not a very effective one. The Internet is bursting with Web development learning resources, but you can’t blindly hiking ahead, taste-testing anything that looks remotely comestible. Not everything moves the sweet nectar of quality education.
The Web is full of forums and communities that will help you validate your learning path. You can even contact me. A lot of people do and ask me if the resources they gathered for learning are good enough.
Not every learning path is the same, however. There is no authorized list of Web development learning resources, and you’re free to customize your plan however you see fit.
Keep an eye open for keywords such as easy. When a resource tells you ‘easily learn,’ run the other way.
Why? Because coding is not easy. Just like anything else worth learning, you have to put in the work to achieve the results. Gimmicky resources tend to gloss over the foundations of the subject material, and instead have you copy tutorials without understanding the underlying architecture. It’s only when you understand how things actually work from the bottom up that you can truly advance. Otherwise, you’re merely parroting the work of others.
Create A Schedule
The school of self-taught development has no attendance policy. There are no teachers to impress or grades to worry over. With external inspiration in short supply, it’s important to structure your studies and follow a schedule. Creating a schedule for yourself will help you stay focused and organized.
I recommend the people I teach to practice every day at least 30 minutes, but an hour is advised. Learning how to code is like learning an instrument or a foreign language. It’s by practicing every day that you’ll feel coding is a natural part of your life and is included in your routine.
Coding is about building projects. Learning for the sake of learning won’t bring you very far.”
Building projects is an essential part of learning. Putting your knowledge into action is the only way you’re going to make important strides, because it explicitly shows you what you know and what you don’t. Many students put off the building component of learning Web development, choosing to wait until they’re “ready.” The thing is, you will never be truly ready. You need to jump head first in and start tinkering.
It doesn’t need to be a full-featured Twitter clone, to-do lists or simple note-taking apps are fine. Newbies spend a lot of time following tutorials, books, videos, and copying the examples. They should absolutely come up with things they build aside from their course examples. That’s how they’ll face real-world issues. That’s also what will highlight what they don’t know yet.
Join a community
Teaching yourself Web development does not have to be a lonely journey. Joining a community, participating in discussion, and contributing to projects will enhance the learning process and make you a more rounded developer.
Stack Overflow, GitHub, and r/webdev are wonderful resources for Q&A and collaboration, and the relationships you build may prove invaluable down the road. Furthermore, you should strive to be a helper, and answer questions from the community instead of only asking them.
You understand a concept when you can use it. You master it when you can explain it with your own words.
Make Sure This Is What You Really Want To Do
The common rule of thumb among developers is if you don’t love it, leave it. Coding shouldn’t just be a meal ticket, it should be a passion. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and anything less than complete commitment will hurt you in the long run.
Everybody can learn how to code to a certain degree, but that doesn’t mean everybody should be a coder.