10 Great Websites To Help You Learn Web Development Online

Posted on October 5, 2014 by in Tips & Tricks | 32 comments

10 Great Websites To Help You Learn Web Development Online

Since the beginning of the web, it has been a tradition for designers and developers to share knowledge and keep learning out in the open. For that reason, there are a number of resources available to anyone who wants to learn web development from scratch. Over the years, various programs have emerged which allow you to learn the basics of web development, build a portfolio, and start on your career.

Why Learn Development Online

Online learning runs a bit counter to the traditional four year university program. Until a few years ago, it was close to impossible to find a web development course in a traditional college setting. In recent years, this has gotten a bit better, but learning web development still requires a lot of self-motivation.

As a still emerging field, your skills as a web developer are often evaluated by the strength of your portfolio rather than your credentials. Building up samples of work is going to be your most valuable asset in the field, and experience is paramount. This isn’t to write-off entirely the value of a proper college education. Rather, it’s to tell you that if you cannot attend a regular university, or have chosen to study something else there, then you are far from lost. A good amount of the web community are self-learners, myself included. The best way to build websites for a living is to start building websites on your own. The strength of your skills, and your own motivation, will be the strongest factors in how far you are able to take it.

Fortunately, there are lots of online resources that can help you get started. We are lucky to be working in an industry that is growing exponentially, and the skills needed are out there for you to learn. But you also will be required to drive yourself and push to complete your skill set. For those hungry to acquire knowledge, and eager to get started, there are several places where you can learn web development right away.

Treehouse

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One of the leading premium online learning resources is Treehouse. The program comes at a monthly cost with two pricing tiers. It works by guiding you along various “tracks” which are meant to teach you a specific skill or programming language from beginner to advanced. In each track, you will take several courses with videos from an instructor, accompanied by structured code walkthroughs and sample quizzes to keep you on pace. Treehouse has tracks that can help with all aspects of building websites and apps, from building the most basic website with no knowledge of HTML or CSS to back-end languages and iOS app development.

Treehouse comes closer than most at replicating an actual university structure, as its tracks are highly structured and assume no previous knowledge. But it will be up to you to make sure you keep up with a course, and engage with all of the examples provided. But Treehouse also gives you access to a lot of external resources related to learning, including small workshops, a library of books and audiovisual materials, and exclusive conferences. And as you gain more experience, Treehouse also offers help with job placement and internships, which is a pretty big bonus.

Lynda

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Lynda is a bit like Treehouse, in that it offers a range of video courses taught by online instructors for a monthly fee. However, rather than break things into tracks, Lynda simply gives you access to thousands of courses which range from beginner to intermediate to advanced. Lynda is not just focused on web development, and has courses on animation, photography, film, music, and even education. But Lynda’s core strength and most comprehensive course offerings are available in web design and development. To get started, you simply need to find the course you want and take it.

It will be up to you to structure your own path, but once you do, there will be a course on just about anything you can imagine. You might want to start learning a bit of basic Javascript, then dive into the fundamentals of a Javascript library like Backbone or Ember. Or maybe you want to learn some front-end development before moving to advanced WordPress theme development. Each course comes with a series of videos, and depending on the course, a few examples for you to walk through and some sample code. Instructors are vetted by Lynda, so you can be sure they are high quality.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to jump straight into things, and works best by example, then Lynda is probably the right choice for you. It will offer you a full range or learning opportunities, and you can work at whatever pace you feel comfortable with.

Udemy

Udemy serves as more of a platform than a structured approach to learning. Using Udemy, instructors can set up courses which are meant to be extremely comprehensive and independent learning tracks that teach you a particular skill. Like Lynda, Udemy offers a wide range of course offerings, both in web development and related fields. The strength of Udemy courses rests on the skills of the instructor, so before taking a course there it is worthwhile to research the instructor’s credentials.

Each course has a price, and you get unlimited access to the videos for that course, as well as a connection to the underlying Udemy student community. Like some of the other resources listed here, Udemy is more of a skills-driven website, and is best if you are trying to get started with a specific skill, like HTML5 or CSS fundamentals, rather than a start to finish solution. Udemy features a range of courses on all topics in web development, from the basics of code to building a full website using HTML, CSS, Javascript and WordPress.

Codeacademy

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Codeacademy is another course-based online learning site, but it takes a slightly different approach. For one, it is completely free. And rather than offer you a set of videos to learn from, you are walked through interactive examples which get you coding right away. Each example will show another facet of a particular programming language, like HTML, CSS or PHP, and through these examples you build up knowledge of the code’s structure and semantics. Samples allow you to type code right in the browser, and your code is evaluated on the fly by the platform, accompanied by explanations and walkthroughs.

Without the background that comes through videos, you may miss some of the theory behind programming, but you will also get started building websites almost right away. And once you’ve learned how to use a language, it might be a bit easier to go out into the world and figure out the why.

Codeacademy has a fairly small number of courses available. Most teach a specific programming language from beginning to end, but the site also offers two courses on how to make a website with no knowledge of development at all. If you’re a “learn by doing” type, then Codeacademy might be the right way to go.

WPSessions

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If you’re looking for a learning resource that’s a bit more WordPress focused, then WPSessions might be a good option. The site was started by Brian Richards, and works by organizing groups of video tutorials into sessions. Some sessions are free, though most are paid, and each focuses on a new topic in web development. For instance, the “Working with BuddyPress” session deals exclusively in how to use BuddyPress and WordPress. Though the site is more WordPress focused than any other listed here, many of the sessions take you through the basics of web development before moving on to how they apply to WordPress. The “WordPress and Backbone.js” course, for instance, focuses on the fundamentals of Javascript before moving on to how to get started with the Backbone Javascript library

Each session has three speakers, at about an hour each. And Brian adds a unique twist to the site, by allowing you to attend the session live, and interact with the speakers in real time. After a session is over, it goes up on the site for purchase. WPSessions is in the midst of an expansion right now, and is going to offer more and more courses, comprehensive dives into different areas of WordPress development.

Tuts Plus

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Tuts Plus actually offers two different way to learn. Their site is filled with free tutorials that focus on just one thing, like how to get started with a specific Javascript library, or the fundamentals of CSS. These tutorials are great when you’re just starting out, because they often come with code samples you can poke around in and take you step by step through the process of creating a website. If you’re looking for a quick way to just start learning, Tuts Plus tutorials will have you diving in in no time. And there are plenty of WordPress tutorials alongside HTML, CSS and Javascript tutorials.

But the site also offers a premium option which takes a more course-based approach. You can choose to purchase individual courses, which will teach you a specific skill in web development, or subscribe to a monthly plan which gives you access to all of the courses. Tuts Plus focuses exclusively on web development, from design to the front-end to the back-end. It allows you to dive deep into a web development skill or programming language, and is one of the only learning resources out there that evaluate and demonstrate how to use various libraries out there, like Backbone, Ember, Laravel, Sinatra, Ruby on Rails, and a whole lot more. For an absolute beginner, Tuts Plus may be a bit advanced. It starts at about the novice level and goes up from there. But if you’re trying to expand your basic knowledge, and make really cool websites, Tuts Plus will show you how.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan in 2006, and has since grown into a full non-profit online education platform. It offers courses in a range of subjects, though it’s focus tends to be on Math and Science. Each course has a series of videos that help you learn a new skill, and interactive challenges that guide you along.

The web development section of Khan Academy is still very new, and right now focuses on how to use Javascript. If you’re looking for a good resource on HTML and CSS, you may want to look elsewhere, but it offers a great, free way to get started with JS. I mention this only because at the moment, Khan Academy is in the process of building out their web development section, so it’s something to keep an eye on in the future.

CSS Tricks

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Ask any web developer out there for a list of places to learn, and I guarantee they’ll mention CSS Tricks. A lot of web developers learned by checking out tips on CSS Tricks, and following along to Chris’ examples. At the most basic level, CSS Tricks is a repository of knowledge about CSS, HTML and Javascript, from the mind of Chris Coyer. But over the years, it has taken a life of it’s own, and become a complete tool for learning front-end development. Buried in CSS Tricks, you’ll find plenty of quick and practical tips, code snippets, and really basic explanations of complex techniques. New articles are added every week, most with an evergreen feel to them, and will remain relevant for years to come. CSS Tricks is a great resource to turn to if you find yourself stuck, and are looking for a specific solution.

CSS Tricks also has a premium section to it, known as “The Lodge”. For a monthly fee, you can get access to in depth screencasts and video tutorials. Chris often uses WordPress for his projects, so even when he is just talking about basic front-end code, it is often within the context of WordPress sites, which should give you a baseline of familiarity.

Eloquent Javascript

Javascript is definitely the most complex of the front-end languages and will be an immediate obstacle for those looking to learn web development. But if you’re looking to build an interactive website with advanced functionality it will be essential. And as a web developer, it can be what sets you apart.

The language has a few odd quirks to it, and can be a bit difficult to wrap you head around at first. Eloquent Javascript is a book that can help with that. A first edition was written several years ago, but a second updated edition has just been released. The online book walks you through Javascript, from basic fundamentals, to full scale server-side application development. In fact, the book serves as a good introduction to programming generally, and starts by teaching you the basics of computer science before contextualizing those principles in Javascript. The book is free, and each chapter is accompanied by code examples that can be run right from the browser. Throughout the book, you will also encounter code challenges to solve which help solidify your learning. If you’ve reached a point where you have a good amount of HTML and CSS under your belt, but need to get started with Javascript, it’s a worthwhile book, filled with lots of examples and best practices.

Codrops

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Codrops is a resource for web developers at any level, looking for a little inspiration. The site is filled with tutorials and code demos that push front-end code to the limit. Tutorials usually begin with a stunning demo, with animations, or transitions, or dynamic interactions. The demo’s focus on a sole feature, like adding an off-canvas menu, or a preloader. Then, the tutorial walks you through the code and shows you how to get the example up and running. All of the tutorials come with a code package that you can download and look through yourself, so you can see how it all comes together.

Codrops won’t take you from novice to expert, but it is great for those learners looking to stretch their imagination a bit. It takes a “do as I do” approach, coding things up using cutting edge technologies and best practices. One of the best ways to learn web development is to simply dig around existing code, and Codrops offers you lots of opportunities to do so.

Getting Started

You may be hesitant about starting a career in web development. But trust me when I say, getting started is the hardest part. There is a lot of ground to cover, but wrapping your head around the basics can be done fairly quickly. With just an afternoon of focused time, you can have your first, albeit very simple, website built. From there, it’s just a matter of practicing your skills with code until you feel comfortable. Hopefully, these resources can help you along the way.

Article thumbnail image by PureSolution / shutterstock.com

32 Comments

  1. Really great list.

    Upto now i had brought couple of tutorials on Lynda ^ they are just easy to learn will check others

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to profile each option in such comprehensive detail. The insights provided helped me to quickly determine which would be a good match for my preferred learning style. Great research presented with practical application. Thanks again for your work!

  3. Great article and list of yes indeed Amazing/Priceless companies! LUV Lynda.com (and with membership you can learn really most anything digitally creative, just learned After Effects last week on there, the most cost effective web/graphic school anywhere) and Khan Academy, wow that founder a true Angel/Godsend, doing incredible things for so many forward. Will checkout CSS tricks site as I def need help in that dept!
    Thnks Jay for the uber informative article and as always to Nick and the EG team, yall ROCK!!

  4. I used Treehouse to learn some training. They have good content. I heard about Lynda to I will have to see what they have.
    I also got really good information from youtube. You can learn how to build a mobile responsive websites from youtube alone, and if you see that is something that you like you can get additional courses to get into details.
    Thnx for sharing.

  5. Great article.

    I love Lynda.com, Treehouse, TutsPlus and CSS Tricks. Another platform for learning web development, SEO and marketing is Learnable.com. You can pay monthly and if you don’t have time to learn, you can pause one month.

    They have now new series of CSS lessons very nice structured. Also you can download e-books.

  6. Another great resource to learn from though it’s just CSS, is http://www.cssplay.co.uk

    Stu Nicholls has gone to great lengths to test and experiment pure css methods of design. He shares the concepts with everyone and you can pay for some of his scripts that he has spent more time on. Or you could always take the time to reverse engineer the code and learn it for yourself. đŸ˜‰ I started out learning from his work before he charged for anything.

  7. Hi Jay,

    Thank for this great list of suggestions. I started checking out codecademy (I know, it is free, so I could immediately start at least) and I am pleasantly surprised by this website. Going through the html section and it is laid out in such a simple way. I never started with html because I thought it was difficult to learn. However, from what I am seeing so far, this is a great website. Thanks for this!

  8. Sorry to see skillcrush.com didn’t make this article. Their syllabus is worth your review.

  9. This reminded me of a few sites that I either forgot or that I happened across earlier in my career and didn’t fit my needs at the time. Thanks for the refresher!

    I see Khan Academy improved over its’s already awesome earlier iteration!

  10. A great list! I already use Udemy and is excellent for what I need about development and along with ET blogs and tutorials are the perfect toolbox.

  11. Hi,

    Very nice list with sites. I was using Lynda to get the tutorials that I needed to learn php and WordPress in the past. WPsessions I didn’t knew but it looks great. I will give it a try and see what I can learn from there.

    Thanks,
    Dragos

  12. This is a great list of resources. I was just looking for some online options for learning more javascript and WordPress, of course CSS tricks has been a constant resource, I was a lodge member and went through most of Chris’s tutorials. Thanks for this timely article.

  13. I love treehouse though, what about Learnable? I think they are cool as well…

  14. Excellent resources, often I recommend Lynda and Tuts Plus to someone who ask about resource to learn web development. Others are useful too. Thank you for putting it together and sharing Hoffmann.

  15. Nice, informative article, but I’m bothered by the number of times the author uses the word “then” when he should be using “than.”
    SHOULD read “Treehouse comes closer THAN most”

    should read “more WordPress focused THAN any other.”
    “then” is actually used correctly here. It refers to time, i.e. “now and then.” “Than” is used in a comparative sense: “An online course is better than none.”

    Then there is the “it’s” that is used as a possessive pronoun. “ITS” is correct. NO APOSTROPHE. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.”

    Your writing is better than most; you should know these things.

  16. Much needed list!
    Since my developer is giving me nightmares i thought o learning it by myself so i don’t have to rely on anyone else!

  17. Great post. I’ve used codecademy with big succes. It’s easy to get started, they’ve implemented a gamification system that just makes me want to keep going and it’s really explanative.

  18. What no code school? I realize it doesn’t have as much content as, say, Treehouse, but I feel Code School has a slightly higher quality to its courses. And in my mind its the quality that matters. Almost all of these resources are supplementary to books and coding practice, so quantity alone should not be the main factor in choosing.

  19. Codeacademy is a good option here, used and find an excellent facility to become successful in developing needs. Going through the other options also.

  20. I just love Khan academy and Codeacadamy. KA for a large number of free courses and Codeacadamy for being the best website to learn coding, their practice tool is amazing đŸ™‚

  21. I am a true beginner… I do not know ANYTHING!!! As far as web development/design goes… I am not aware of the different tools, programs…. I want to learn mostly web design with enough coding to make me well rounded. Treehouse looks more like it has more coding, less design. Lynda.com has a lot of design, less coding…. I like Lynda.com, but would not know the best order to take the classes or which courses are important… I wish Lynda.com had a course layout for a beginner…. Like treehouse does. Any idea of a site that lists the best courses to take and what order to take them in ??? For a true beginner, all of those things like ruby rails, or word press, or Java, ….everything is foreign, and I would have no idea which to take first, and in what order to go from there… Any help would be appreciated. I want to focus on web design, while learning the basics of coding so that I can be employable…. In the shortest amount of time. I just need a course track to follow like treehouse…. But treehouse is more centered on coding, and less on the design. If Lynda added a course line up for true beginners like me, I would jump on there in a second! And then maybe tuts plus after that…

  22. Nice Post Angela ! These blogs are very useful for them who are beginners in Web Development. I have visited (Net Tuts Plus) and (Sitepoint)many times. These blogs have much information. Thanks for sharing this helpful list. Keep posted.

  23. Code academy is the best.
    I always follow this site for learning website development.
    I saw many concepts are cleared and daily learn new new things.
    It really motivates me to give my best in development.

  24. thank’s for your efforts, it really helped me a lot !

  25. Great list of websites, thanks for that. I know about Udemy, my friends use it to learn web development, but I didn’t like it. I’m glad that I found this list.

  26. Sincerely commend the effort of the writer of this article. No doubt, it’s what i have been searching for but please everyone I need your help. I have passion for web development, and that’s why I have come across this page. Could you please tell me the best website out of all this, I can seriously learn web development starting from the scratch. Humbly await you every response that can aid my quest. God bless you all!!!

  27. I would like to add Rocketlearn.co

  28. I appreciate what you’ve done to come up with a great list. These websites will surely bolster the knowledge and skill base of any web developer, whether he’s just a newbie or has been in the industry for a very long time.

  29. Great article, I am a bit nervous about starting a professional portfolio. Thanks for all the advice!

  30. hi i want help about web site

  31. I have tried some of these. Thanks for the list.

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