Getting Started in Web Development & Design


Today I met with a young man trying to figure out how to get from highschool into the world of making and working with websites. We chatted and part way thorough I thought. I should email this fellow some of the things we talked about today…. as I was writing that email. I thought… I should blog this.

Blogs / Online “trade” magazines.

Good sites to read to get a feeling for the industry. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what they’re talking about at first. Just google the words you don’t understand until you get back to a point where you do. Or just make a mental note, and keep going forward and slowly the pieces will fill in.

Smashing Magazine

This site can range from the super technical to the very broad. I subscribe to their enewsletter and I think almost everytime there is at least one thing in it that makes me thing “that’s neat.”

A list apart

The site’s tag line is a site for people that build websites. It covers a lot of area’s, click on the topics in the top left hand corner to narrow it down.

CSS Tricks

Maintained and mostly written by Chris Coyier, has some interesting things to look at.


Question / Answer Sites

Sometimes you just want to read answers to a specific question. These sites are great for that.


Is a great site for finding answers to questions.  Here is a set of answers to basically your question about Web Development. Some of these answers are great and much better than the over view I gave you this morning.

 Stack Overflow

Chances are if you google a question about coding you’ll see this site pop up.

Try to look for answers that have jsfiddle or some other example you can actually look at before you take the answer as correct. Lots of upvotes usually means it’s a decent answer though.

Tools for learning, building and playing with code.

Sometimes you just want of fiddle around with some code and see what happens. You might also be looking for inspiration, or a walk through example of how to do something.

CodePen –

This site offers demos of really cool things that can happen in a browser. It also has menus and other more basic things too.



Sort of a go to for most introduction to coding. Walks through all the basics, and has a nice hands on “try it yourself” tool.


JS Fiddle

Want to just try some HTML tags apply some CSS elements and add some Javascrip code to see what they do? Well then you want jsfiddle.


Tutorials and places to look things up

There is a lot of css to know… here’s all the values.


Learn it Online

There are lots of online courses out there to help you.

Edmonton Public Library Resources

(a shameless plug for my current employeer – but hey he lived in Edmonton, so he’s able to use this stuff with his library card)

(Go to – digital Content – learn)

Amazing array of video courses on all topics. Some good starter courses.

Gale Courses.

(Go to – digital Content – learn)

6 week instructor led online courses – 3 free per year with EPL account.


There are many other options for learning online.

What I’ve listed here all have free options. They’re not all the same style, so if you don’t like one, try another until you find one that teaches in a way you enjoy.

These are more focused on the doing aspect – less academic.

Code Academy

“Learn to code interactively, for free.”

“Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.”

Khan Academy

“Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.”


These next three are all associated with Universities.

They offer free courses and also offer paid courses, and upgrades to certificates or degrees.



“Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take.”



“We are building an online university, “by Silicon Valley”, that:

  • teaches the skills that industry employers need today
  • delivers credentials endorsed by employers
  • educates at a fraction of the cost of traditional schools”



Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.


There you have it, some great spots to get started in learning about making websites or really any online applications.

At the time of writing all of these had free options. If you find they don’t or if there is a killer site you want to share leave a comment.


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