Learning a New Language @ Home: Teaching Yourself Web Design

Learning a New Language @ Home: Teaching Yourself Web Design

Mike Tyson
Feb 3, 2012

Looking at a page full of code might seem pretty daunting to the untrained eye. In fact the very foundation of any site, including this one, depends upon the brick and mortar of code (what you're looking at right now is the furnishings and decor). We'd like to help introduce you to the idea learning how to read and write code is not unlike learning a foreign language, and fluency may prove not only practical, but maybe even fun!

The internet is still growing at a breakneck speed, with plenty of potential still out there. The problem is in order to realize that potential, it is important to be fluent in the language spoken online...languages including HTML, CSS, Javascript... all used to create the visible "front end" of site (web development deals with the back-end functionality of the site, the "plumbing" and "electrical", requiring an equal amount of expertise before poking around). Although it's beneficial to know both, it's much easier to teach oneself the design portion.

4 reasons why learning web design should be your goal for 2012:

1. Jobs
The job market is shrunk considerably, but one industry continuing to expand is online and tech skill services. Companies often have openings for web designers and people knowledgeable with coding languages. In fact, we have several friends who went to school for different subjects entirely, taught themselves various coding languages on their own, and now have jobs working as web designers. Even if you're not planning to be a web designer, knowing the basics of HTML is similar to knowing a little Spanish: it comes in handy when you may least expect it.

2. Freelance
Freelancers with a wide and flexible skill set are the most desirable, and even those with full-time jobs can sometimes add a side income by taking on freelance work. Creating a portfolio and advertising your expertise both online and in real life may lead to extra income. Networking can get you a long way and chances are, you probably know one or two people right now who could use web design help.

3. The Future
The internet is going to continue to expand into every facet of our lives. Although coding languages will continue to change, many of the foundation elements are likely here to stay. Being able to speak "the languages" of web design will only serve to keep you more in tune with what is happening around the world while helping you to stay relevant and competitive in the job market.

4. It Can Be Fun
Bear with us — it actually can be. If you're interested in learning languages, this isn't too far off. Considering web design as a study in a second language. It has syntax, grammar, rules, and everything else a real language has. Additionally, coding can be very finicky. The slightest error can throw an entire website off. It demands diligence, an attention to detail and accuracy. But if you pull it off, you're rewarded. People who have those kinds of qualities will likely feel right at home when it comes to coding.

Now that we've unequivocally convinced you to learn how to code, where should you begin? There are countless books out there on the subject in varying degress of complexity. Two publishers we really like are O'Reilly and A Book Apart. If books aren't your thing, you can also look to a tutorial site such as Lynda.com. We've also used their services in the past and have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

Lastly, Codeacademy recently began a new project called Code Year which aims to teach users how to code in 2012 by sending them weekly tutorials and lessons. The step by step handholding makes learning coding as simple as reciting your ABC's, and the opportunity to learn at your own pace with instantaneous feedback is both useful and convenient.

(Images: Flickr members xJason.Rogersx and Al Abut licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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