How to Learn Web Development Pt.3 – 8 Popular Questions Answered

How to Learn Web Development Pt.3 - 8 Popular Questions Answered

Table of Contents

Having the framework to learn web development is sometimes not enough. There might still be some questions that can make learning web development difficult. In this final part of this mini series, we will discuss the eight most popular questions you were asking for. From how difficult learning web development is to tools, SEO, design, PHP and even AI. It is time to answer your questions.

Can you make money in web development?

The short answer is yes. People are constantly looking for freelance web developers or companies they can hire to build websites and apps. The only thing that matters is your skills and how you can be useful to people. And, the same is true if you want to build a career. The more you know, and the better you are at what you know, the more money you can make. There will always be demand for experts.

Is it hard to learn web development?

This is very hard to answer. How deep into web development do you want to go? How many technologies, disciplines and topics do you want to learn about? Do you have any previous experience with web development, coding or programming? How much time do you want to dedicate to learning? All these, and other, questions will influence how hard the path to learn web development will be for you.

I don’t think that there is “one size fits all” type of answer. The answer to this question is highly individual. This also means that experience of other people may not give you a proper clue. As in every area, there will be people to whom web development will seem very easy, a second nature. Then, there will people to whom it will seem very difficult. Then, there will be some average.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all topics of web development are equal. For example, learning and mastering HTML and CSS is easier than learning and mastering JavaScript. Both require different amount of time and effort. Still, there is no 10-point scale that could precisely predict how hard will this or that stage be for you. You can only guess and then wait to see the reality.

How much time it will take to learn web development?

The same answer as to the previous question, it depends. The time you will need to learn web development largely depends on how deep you want to go and how many subjects do you want to learn about. If you decide to learn web development and dive really deep, it will take a lot of time, months at least. On the other hand, if you are seeking shallow understanding, a few weeks will be enough.

However, keep in mind that the quality of your understanding will likely correlate with your time frame. It also depends on how good learner you are. Some people need less time to learn while others need more. Finally, it depends on the approach you choose. Meaning, you can read books for a months and learn as much as about as someone who will dedicate just a few days to coding and doing.

If you want to make your path to learn web development as fast as possible, you focus the majority of your time on doing. Forget books. In the world of technology, books are often outdated almost right in the moment they are published, sometimes even sooner. Find some easy tutorial and do the hard work. This is the best way to learn just anything, by trial and error and personal experience.

When should you learn about front-end tools?

When should you learn about front-end tools such as Gulp, Grunt, Webpack and others? First, my suggestion is to forget Grunt. It is a history. Focus on Gulp and Webpack, especially Webpack. Also, keep in mind that these tools serve different purposes. Gulp is for automation while Webpack is for bundling. Meaning, you can use just one or both. More and more often, I am using both.

When to learn these tools? I would start right after learning the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. When you move beyond the basics and can create more complex and dynamic, i.e., JavaScript-enhanced website, start playing with Gulp and Webpack. These tools can help you work much faster. However, you have to be able to do the work first. Meaning, master the fundamentals first.

This thing about giving yourself enough time to focus solely on the basics is true especially for JavaScript. Remember that these fancy tools work with JavaScript. So, if your understanding JavaScript is shallow, or you don’t understand it at all, learning to use these tools will be probably harder. So, learn the basic of JavaScript. And, don’t be afraid to dive into ES6, ES7 & ES8.

Keep in mind that tools are just tools. They will never do the work for you or supplement your lack of skills. They can only make it easier, faster and better. Also, remember that no one will pay you to write a config file for Gulp or Webpack, or Grunt. People who want to hire web developers are looking for someone who can build a website or app for them. They often don’t even know these tools.

So, don’t worry about what tool should you learn about and when. Focus on the skills that will help you become a more interesting developer for hiring. All these tools can wait. And, if you really want to start using one of these tools, you can always find some examples of config files online and use those. In the end, you don’t need to know how these tools work. You just need to know how to use them.

Should web developers learn design?

This is one of those questions people like to ask. Another question is “Should designers learn to code?” My answer to both of them is: Think for yourself. If you think that you should learn more about design, do it. Learning design can be another step to expand your skillset and expertise. Learning design can also make you a more interesting choice for hiring, by clients or employers.

Now, is learning design necessary if you want to learn web development? No, it is not. You don’t have to know anything about design as a web developer. In the end, your job as developer is building the “stuff”. It is job of other people to design it. It is perfectly fine to stick to web development and focus solely on code. There is a lot of space where you can build a career or business.

That being said, if you are interested in enhancing your path to learn web development with another discipline, such as design, you can. What you need to keep in mind is that learning design can, and probably will, be as hard as learning new front-end or back-end programming language. You should not expect that you will learn, not to mention master, the discipline of design any time soon.

So, should you learn design? Learning design is not necessary for building a successful career or business in web development. There are many designers who will do the design part of the project for you. My question is, do you want to learn design? If so, don’t ask what other people think you should or should not do and just do it, or learn it. Remember, it is your choice, not theirs.

Should you learn about SEO?

Another “should” question some of you wanted to know. Should you, as a web developer, know SEO? Well, I think that everyone who wants to learn web development, meaning “web” development, should know at least the basics of SEO. Why? Many people will assume that when they hire you for building a website, you will also do at least some SEO optimization. This is almost a common practice.

Even if you don’t care about what common practice is or what other people assume, knowing SEO is still useful. It can make you more interesting for hiring. It is a skill you can add to your skillset and use it to promote yourself and your services. It is an opportunity for you to deliver more value to your clients or employer. Remember that the more value you deliver the more money you can make.

Did I scare you? Don’t worry. I am not talking about SEO in the terms of copywriting or keyword analysis. This is a whole other level. What I am talking about are real basics. Learn about HTML5 elements and how to use them. There are elements, such as div and span, that has no meaning at all. The purpose of these elements is to allow the web developer to apply some CSS styles to the content.

Then, there are elements, such as main, section, article, header, footer, em, i, strong, h1, etc., that serve a specific purpose. All these elements have a semantic meaning that helps search engines and people understand the content. For example, the i element represents a text that is different from the normal text, contains technical terms, foreign language phrases, etc.

If you want to focus on building websites, you have to learn about the meaning of these elements if you want to use them correctly. Another thing you must know is how to use are meta tags and metadata for social media, i.e. schema markup, twitter cards, Open Graph. You should also learn about status codes, URL best practices, robot control and sitemap syntax, page speed optimization, and so on.

Fortunately, there are some good resources that will help you find out what has to be done. One website I like a lot is SEO Learning Center created by Moz. This website contains a tone of material about SEO, maybe everything there is to know about SEO. So, if you want to learn about SEO this will be a good place to start. Oh, and to answer the question, yes, you should learn a bit about SEO.

Is PHP worth learning for a web developer?

A number of people asked this question. Let’s say you want to learn web development. Is it a good idea to learn PHP? Or, should you focus your time and effort on a different language? Another question some people asked was whether PHP as a language is dying. Let’s answer both of these questions, and let’s start with the first one. So, is PHP worth learning? The answer is that it depends, as usually.

So, should you learn PHP?

What are your goals? Sure, you want to learn web development. However, what kind of work do you want to do? Or, what kind of projects do you want to work on? Do you want to learn what’s necessary to build websites and do just that? Or, do you want to learn web development because you want to develop web apps? The best way to answer this question is by thinking about your goals and plans.

The thing is that there is no one right answer that will fit everyone. For example, PHP is worth learning for some people because their goals, or plans, include developing websites with WordPress. WordPress uses PHP, it is built on it. Therefore, learning PHP is not only a good idea, but a necessity. The same is true if you want to develop with frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony, Zend, Nette, etc.

Do you see where am I heading? You have to think about what do you want to do after you learn web development. Is there some chance you may get to developing websites or applications with PHP in the future? If yes, then the answer is also yes. You should definitely prepare yourself for it and learn PHP until you have more time to do so. If not, then the answer is no. It would be a waste of your time.

However, what if you are not sure? It can happen that you may not know yet what type of project you want to work on, or what tools and languages. In that case, I think that it will be better to skip PHP for now. This will make some people angry, but I don’t think PHP is as important for web development. There are languages that are more useful for web development than PHP, such as JavaScript.

So, if you want to learn web development, but you are still not sure about your goals or plans, feel free to skip PHP for now. Focus on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. True mastery of these three will require a decent amount of time and effort, especially in case of JavaScript.

So, is PHP dying?

Now, let’s answer the second question. Is PHP dying? The short answer is no. The long answer is no and it doesn’t matter. Let’s assume, just for a moment, that PHP was about to die soon. It still powers more than half of the internet, it is probably closer to something like three-fourths. So, even if PHP were about to die, it is so widespread it would take a long time until it would disappear.

This is why the long answer is “no and it doesn’t matter”. PHP would be here with us for a long time even after its death. Now, is PHP actually dying? It is not, at least according to statistics provided by TIOBE Index. At this moment, PHP is the seventh most popular language in the world. It is right after JavaScript. So, if PHP is dying JavaScript should be next, theoretically. Is this true?

What’s more, PHP is now, in October 2017, on the same position as it was the year before, in October 2016. And, even if we take a look deeper into the past, it is still not as bad. It was the sixth most popular language in the world in year 2012, and fourth in year 2007. So, yes, there is a downward trend. However, there is still a lot of languages PHP would have to “beat” before we can say anything.

So, is PHP dying? Who knows. It is on the descend. However, that doesn’t have to mean it is dying. We need to remember that statistics such as TIOBE Index show only current trends. Three things. First, if you want to learn PHP, do it. It is easy and simple language. Second, think beyond the syntax. Focus on writing clean code. Third, when you understand programming, language is just a tool.

Since AI is so close, is it worth it to learn web development?

In the long-term view, it is a safe bet that AI and robots will be able to do almost anything we humans can. I am convinced that, one day, AI will be able to produce a better code than human coder or programmer. I have no doubts about this. However, I have no idea when this day will come. Sure, there are some predictions, such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. However, it is all just a guess.

At this moment, there are still people writing code and there are still people willing to pay these people to do it. Until this changes, it will be worth to learn web development, for people interested in this discipline. And, when that change will happen, web development can still be an interesting hobby. For now, focus on current moment and why do you want to learn web development.

Do you want to learn web development because you want to build new career? Do you want to use web development to build a business? Are you looking for a new hobby? AI will come, that is for sure. However, that it will take some time, not to mention its widespread adoption. Until then, you can still build a great career or business in web development, or create an interesting hobby for yourself.

Closing thoughts on how to learn web development pt.3

This is the end of the third and also final part of this mini series about how to learn web development. I hope this series of articles helped you find the best place where to start your journey to learn web development. And, that you also got enough information to continue on this journey until its very end. Now, you have to start. Make the first step and get momentum. Then, keep going.

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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