Thursday, 30 August 2012

How To Get Started With Web Development

Anyone can teach themselves the skills involved in Web development, but if you're a beginner it can be difficult to know where to begin. In this article we'll go over the basic areas to get yourself acquainted with. Ideally, if you can work through each area in turn, getting yourself to a reasonable level of competence in each before moving on to the next, you'll build a solid foundation in the discipline that you can continue to grow over time. If you do not have much technical experience, try not to be intimidated by the number of technologies involved, just focus on one at a time and within a short period you'll be well on your way to being a competent Web developer.


The first area to get to grips with is HTML. HTML is known as a markup language. The content of most Web pages is structured within HTML markup. This markup consists of elements and attributes, with each content item in a page listed within one or more element structures.

The first step in creating any Web page is working out what the content is going to be, which may include text, images, media such as videos and interactive items. Once you decide on these content items and have them ready, you will structure them within HTML markup.

The HTML dictates the structure of a page, with each item listed within the body section, and information about the page listed in the head section. The head section gives the user's Web browser information it needs to display the page. To learn basic HTML, you should ideally cover: making a page, including text, links, images and HTML attributes. Once you have the basics of HTML mastered, you can look into other client side technologies.


Cascading Style Sheets determine the styling and appearance of Web pages, in conjunction with HTML code. CSS code for a page can appear along-side the HTML elements, in the page head section or in a separate file saved with ".css" as the extension.

CSS code can instruct the user's Web browser to display page items in particular ways. CSS dictates such display properties as text/ font style, colours, backgrounds, layouts, borders, margins and padding. The CSS declarations identify particular elements within a page by referring to the element type or using ID and class attributes included in the HTML markup.

The basic techniques involved in CSS are not complex, but the tricky part is testing your pages in different Web browsers, as your designs may appear with significant differences between them. Once you've learned basic HTML, learning the essentials of CSS is not difficult.


JavaScript is used to make Web pages dynamic and interactive. JavaScript code appears within the Web page HTML markup, either in the head or body section, or in a separate file saved with ".js" extension. Such scripts can respond to user interaction with a page, for example altering the appearance of a page element when the user hovers their mouse over it.

Writing JavaScript code is a fundamentally different activity to writing markup code. When you write JavaScript, you are effectively writing programs, with instructions for the Web browser to execute one after another. JavaScript areas to get yourself acquainted with for basic Web development include using logical structures such as loops and conditionals, variables, functions and event listeners. Try not to be too overwhelmed by learning JavaScript if you have no programming experience, as most websites only require small excerpts of code anyone can learn.

Server Side

So far we have focused on client side technologies, which are those technologies that operate in the user's Web browser (the client). Web development also involves technologies functioning on the Web server. These include database technologies and server side scripting.

Many websites store their data in databases in systems such as MySQL or XML data files, rather than coding the data directly into HTML files. In these sites, when the user's browser requests a Web page, a server side script runs on the server computer that is hosting the site. The script may carry out various processes, including querying a data source. The server side script takes the data it has retrieved and builds it into HTML structures, sending these to the user's browser to be rendered there are they would be with a standard HTML page.

If you want to continue learning Web development skills once you have a good grasp of client side development, you can try learning a server side scripting language such as PHP or ASP, as well as data technologies such as SQL and XML.


Web development involves many different skills, with new and emerging areas including HTML5, advanced JavaScript topics such as jQuery and mobile development. If you're new to the area this can all seem pretty intimidating, but in reality most of the technologies are accessible enough for you to teach yourself with the help of the many free Internet tutorials.

There are lots of websites for learning these skills, with W3Schools the main starting point for most people hoping to teach themselves. If you do want to get stuck into Web development, it's best to focus on one skill at a time and not worry too much about how fast your skills are progressing.


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