Beginner Development Resources and the Benefits of Learning Online

January 22, 2020

Topics: Development , Tutorials
Developer Resources

Whether you are looking to become a developer yourself, or just looking to familiarize yourself more with your current website and how it works, online learning resources can be a huge benefit. As you begin your development journey, you will slowly be able to understand how things work within your website with more and more familiarity. With how easily accessible information is on the internet you can really take advantage of the multiple free and paid courses that are created by some of the best experts in the field to further your skills.

If you are someone who has no technical experience and is looking to begin to learn how your website works or how the fundamentals work, then this is the place for you. In this blog, we are going to look into some of the different resources that you can utilize to get yourself off the ground in the world of development. Everyone has something to gain from further professional development, and we are going to show you where some good places to start may be!

The Server Structure

There are basically two major components of a website: your web browser, which is what you interact with, and the server which handles what information is displayed and how. The server is usually hosted with a third party that manages most of the hardware, which includes things like backups and routing so that you don’t have to. The server is what generates and serves up the website that you are seeing from your browser. While we won’t get too in depth on how servers work in this article, we will talk about the software that is running on these servers to generate what you see. This will give you the basic idea of what is actually happening in the back end when you load a website.

On these servers you typically have 4 main components, which is commonly referred to as the LAMP stack. LAMP stands for:

  • Linux – the operating system the server runs
  • Apache – the web server itself that allows you to connect to the server over the internet
  • mySQL – the database for storing dynamic information
  • PHP – the main programming language that WordPress and many other web frameworks use

For now we are going to begin to focus on PHP, the website aspect.

The Website Structure

Websites can often be broken down into 4 main parts: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. We are going to break down each component and give you a resource to begin learning how each works. As a note, these are listed in a particular order because as you move forward, you will be building on the previous skillset. Moving forward without learning the previous skill will cause you a lot of confusion!

HTML

HTML is essentially the building blocks of a website. It contains many different building blocks such as <html>, <head>, <body>, and <p> tags that, when combined together, will allow you to create the base structure of your website. This is typically learned first as it will allow you to lay out your content in a way that you can decide where things should go on a page, and what should be on every page like a header and footer.

Online Learning Resource: Code Academy – Learn HTML

CSS

CSS is what gives your website the pizzazz and style to what would otherwise be a very bland informational document. This is where you can begin to define a layout, add colors, background images, overlays, animations, and so much more. This is what makes your website look unique and your own. CSS is usually learned after HTML as HTML blocks are needed and structure must be defined before it can be stylized.

Online Learning Resource: Code Academy – Learn CSS

JavaScript

JavaScript is what makes your website interactive! It allows you to build in things like sliders, carousels, interactive navigation menus and so much more. JavaScript is usually learned after HTML and CSS because it can be used to do things like add or remove styles when you hover or do something when you click on an arrow to go to the next slide in a carousel. There are so many things you can do with JavaScript, and the good news is that whatever you are trying to do, it has likely been done already, which is where tons of pre-built libraries come into play! As you become more advanced, you can learn how to build on top of these libraries to get an even more specific result.

Online Learning Resource: Code Academy – Learn Introduction to JavaScript

PHP

Here is where we start to get into the fun stuff! With PHP, we are able to make our static HTML websites into a much more dynamic website. By connecting to a database that stores your data, it allows you to be able to quickly create, edit, and delete data, without having to create individual HTML files for each item. A common use for this is with web pages or blogs that all use the same template, but have different content. You can create one template for the web pages, and one for the blog, and just change the content that is displayed via a different URL. By learning PHP, you will begin to understand just how your website is working in terms of displaying and managing content, how some of the plugins interact with each other, and how your theme was created.

Online Learning Resources:
Code Academy – Learn PHP
Learn-php.org – Introduction to PHP

Next Steps

As you continue on your development journey, you will begin to better understand the amount of time and effort that goes into the development of your website. Also, by learning the basics of development, you start to learn more about how things on the internet work in general, and just how much the digital world is capable of. You never know, learning the basics of development may just spark the world’s next great idea!

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