How to start web development. How to learn web development. Complete beginner’s guide

If you want to learn web development and you are wondering how to start web development, where do you even start? It’s hard to find the right advice without suffering from information overload. That’s why I’ve created this beginner’s roadmap!

How to start Web Development

It lays out all the basics you need to learn web development we’re going to go through each step so by the end of this guide you’ll have an understanding of the basics of web development and what skills you need to learn I recommend doing steps 1 2 & 3 in order then depending on whether you want to focus on more front-end or back-end you can Additional Frontend Development skills or the backend Development.

How to start web development
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The Basics

I personally think it’s a good idea for front-end web developers to learn at least a little bit of back-end and vice versa knowing the basics of both will help you know if you like front-end or back-end web development better. Sound good! let’s dig deeper into the roadmap before you get into actual coding you’ll need to understand some general concepts as you start your journey into web development.

  • How websites work
  • The difference between front-end and back-end
  • Using a code editor

How websites work

All websites at the most basic are just a bunch of files that are stored on a computer called a server. This server is connected to the Internet. You can then load that website through a browser like ChromeFirefox, or Safari on your computer or on your phone. The browser is also called the client In this situation. So every time you’re on the Internet, you the client are loading data from the server as well as submitting data back to the server. This back and forth between the client and the server is the basis of the internet.

Types of Web developers

Web developer roles typically fall into three categories Front end, Back end, and Full-stack. The terms front end back end and full-stack web developer describe what part of the client-server relationship that you’re working with.

Frontend Development means that you’re dealing mainly with the client-side it’s called the front end because it’s what you can see in the browser. Like the menu, header, images, etc. Front-end developers are responsible for excellent visuals and enhanced user experience. They use the languages and technologies like HTML, CSS, Javascript, and related libraries and frameworks.

Conversely, the Backend Development is the part of the website that you can’t really see but it handles a lot of the logic and functionality that is necessary for everything to work.

One way you can think about this is that front-end web development is like the front-of-house part of a restaurant. It’s a section where customers come to see and experience the restaurant, the interior decor, seating, and of course eating the food. On the other hand back-end, web development is like the back-of-house part of the restaurant. It’s where deliveries and inventory are managed and the process to create the food all happens there are a lot of things behind the scenes that the customers won’t see but they will experience and hopefully enjoy the end product.

The languages used by backend developers are PHP, Java, Ruby, Python, and Javascript.

The Code Editor

When you build a website the most essential tool that you’ll use is your code editor or IDE integrated development environment. This tool allows you to write the markup and code that will make up the website. There are quite a few good options out there but currently, the most popular code editor is VS Code. VS Code is a more lightweight version of Visual Studio (Microsoft’s main IDE). It’s fast, free, and easy to use, and you can customize it with themes and extensions. Other code editors are Sublime TextAtom, and VIM. if you’re just getting started though, I’d recommend checking out VS Code, Which you can download from their website.

Frontend Development

Basic Frontend Development

Now that we’ve covered some of the broader concepts of what web development is, Let’s get into more of the details starting with the front end. The front end of a website is made up of three types of files HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These files are what is loaded in the browser on the client-side.

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HTML or hypertext markup language is the foundation of all websites. It’s the main file type that is loaded in your browser when you look at a website. The HTML file contains all the content on the page and it uses tags to denote different types of content. For example, you can use tags to create headline titles, paragraphs, bulleted lists, images, and so on. HTML tags by themselves do have some Styles attached but they’re pretty basic, Like what you would see in a Word document.

Learn More: What is DOCTYPE HTML What is the purpose of DOCTYPE HTML?

CSS or cascading style sheets lets you style that HTML content, so it looks nice and fancy. You can add colors, custom fonts, and layout the elements of your website however you want them to look. You can even create animations and shapes with CSS. There’s a lot of depth to CSS and sometimes people tend to gloss over it so they can move on to things like JavaScript. However, it’s really important to be able to convert a design into a front-end website layout using CSS.

Learn More: What are CSS Selectors and 13 Types of CSS Selectors with examples

JavaScript is a programming language that was designed to run in the browser. Using JavaScript you can make your website respond to different inputs from the user or other sources. For example, you can build a back-to-top button that when the user clicks it they’ll scroll back up to the top of the page. As we mentioned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the basic building blocks of front-end web development. In addition to them, there are a few other tools that you’ll want to learn at this point.


Package Managers are online collections of software, each piece of software is called a package and is available for you to install and use in your own projects. You can think about them as plugins. Instead of writing everything from scratch, you can use helpful utilities that other people have written already. For instance, you can simply use a slider plug-in instead of having to code it all yourself. Which could take days to figure out why to reinvent the wheel ff you don’t have to.

The most popular package manager is called NPM or Node Package Manager. You can also use another manager called Yarn. Both are good options to know and use although it’s probably best to start out with NPM. In addition to the package manager, you’ll want to become familiar with build tools.

Module bundlers and build tools are another essential part of the front-end workflow. On a basic level, these tools run tasks and process files. You can use them to compile your SASS files to CSS, transpile your es6 JavaScript files down the es5 for better browser support, run a local web server, and many other helpful tasks, saving you a ton of hassle if you were to try to do all these essential steps by yourself. Three tools that you’ll continue to come across a lot are Gulp, Webpack, and Parcel. Personally, I like using Gulp for my own front-end workflows, where I just want to compile my SASS and JavaScript files and not do too much else.

The last tool you’ll need to learn about in this stage is Version Control. Version Control also called source control is a system that keeps track of every code change that you make in your project files. You can even revert to a previous chain if you make a mistake. It’s almost like having infinite save points for your projects and let me tell you, it can be a huge lifesaver.

The most popular version control system is an open-source system called Git. Using Git you can store all your files and then change history in collections called Repositories. You may also have heard of Github, which is an online hosting company owned by Microsoft where you can store all your Git repositories.

Additional Frontend Skills

At this point, you’ve learned the basics of frontend development and have a choice to either delve into additional friends skills or learn about basic backend web development. With additional front-end, there are some more intermediate skills that you will want to learn.

I recommend that you look at the following SASS, responsive design, and a JavaScript framework. SASS is an extension of CSS that makes writing styles more intuitive and modular and it’s a really powerful tool. With SASS you can split up your styles into multiple files for better organization, create variables to store colors and fonts, and, use mixins and placeholders to easily reuse styles even if you utilize just some of the basic features like nesting you’ll be able to write your Styles quicker and with less headache.

Responsive design ensures that your website will look good on all devices like desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. The core practices of responsive design include using flexible sizing for elements as well as utilizing media queries to target styles for specific devices and widths. For example, instead of setting your content to be a static 400 pixels wide, you can use a media query and set the content to be 50% width on desktop and 100% on mobile. Building a website with responsive CSS is a must these days. Especially as mobile traffic is outpacing desktop traffic.

In many cases, once you have the basics of vanilla JavaScript down you may want to learn one of the JavaScript frameworks. Especially, if you want to be a full-stack JavaScript developer these frameworks come with pre-built structures and components that allow you to build apps quicker than if you started from scratch. Currently, you have three main choices. ReactAngular and Vue.

React which is technically a library, was created by Facebook and is the most popular framework right now. Angular was the first big framework and it was created by Google. It’s still very popular even though it’s been surpassed by react recently and Vue is a newer framework created by a former angular developer. Well, it is smaller than react and angular but it is growing quickly and is also considered easy and fun to use.

You might be wondering now okay well which framework is the best. The truth is, they are all good and in web development, there’s almost never a single choice that is 100% the best choice for every person in every situation. Your choice will most likely be determined by your job or simply by which one you enjoy using the most.

If your end goal is to land a job at a company try researching which framework seems to be the most common in potential job listings. Don’t worry too much about which framework to choose it’s more important that you learn and understand the concepts behind them and once you learn one framework, it’ll be much easier to learn other ones after that.

Backend Development

Let’s move on now to our last section backend web development the backend or server-side of web development is made up of three main components the server, a server-side programming language, and the database.

Web Server

As we mentioned at the very beginning, the server is the computer where all website files the database and other components are stored. Traditional servers run on operating systems such as Linux or Windows. They’re considered centralized because everything the website files back-end code and data are stored all together on the server.

Nowadays, there are also serverless architectures which is a more decentralized type of setup. This type of application splits up those components and leverages third-party vendors to handle each of them. Despite the name though you still do need some kind of webserver to at least store your website files. Some examples of service providers are AWS Amazon Web Services or Netlify.

Serverless setups are popular because they are fast and cheap, and you don’t need to worry about server maintenance. They’re great for simple static websites that don’t require a traditional server-side language. However, for very complex applications the traditional server setup might be a better option.

Programming Language

On the server, you need to use a programming language to write the functions and logic for your application. The server then compiles your code and conveys the result back to the client. Popular programming languages for the web include PHP, Python, Ruby, C-Sharp, and Java. There is also a form of server-side JavaScript node.js which is a runtime environment that can run JavaScript code on the server.


Finally, you’ll need to learn about databases. As the name implies, are where you store information on your server for your website. Most databases use a language called SQL pronounced sequel which stands for Structured Query Language.

In the database, data is stored in tables sort of like complex Excel documents. Then you can write queries in SQL in order to create, read, update and delete data. The database is run on the server meeting servers like the Microsoft sequel server on Windows servers and MySQL for Linux. There are also no sequel databases that store the data in JSON files as opposed to the traditional tables. One type of no sequel database is MongoDB, which is often used with react angular and view applications.

Some examples of how data is utilized on websites are if you have a contact form on your website you could build the form. So that every time someone submits the form their data is saved to your database. You can also store user logins on the database and write the logic in the server-side language to handle checking and authenticating the logins.

That’s how I would recommend you start your journey into web development. Share this guide on How to learn web development with your friends

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