The Making of a Web Developer: Where Would You Start?

By Deane Barker on September 10, 2007

Say you have someone who is interested in Web development, but who has never really progressed beyond Dreamweaver. Where would you start with them?

My gut is telling me that you start by teaching them HTML and CSS from the ground up. Do you agree?

If so, what resources would you use? Does anyone have any book or site recommendations on how to teach someone HTML/CSS from the beginning, assuming no prior knowledge?

I feel really out of touch with this end of it. At the risk of sounding like an arrogant tool, I don’t know what absolute beginning resources work anymore. What makes sense to me these days would probably sound ridiculous to someone else.



  1. I would spend some time with basic real-life examples and a lot of time with teaching them how to search for good resources and more complex examples. You know, the parable of giving a fish vs. teaching fishing.

  2. I teach Web design at a local community college, both intro and ‘advanced’. The intro class is pretty much open to all students so it’s done in DW but the advanced is for web majors. I start them off with getting to know the html tag structure. Not the tags, but their structure, DTD, etc. Then we get into CSS. Simple classes and basic pseduo classes. Then the box model and so on. I forbid them from using DW the first several class sessions. I think it’s important to know what’s going on behind the pixels.

  3. I send people to They have a relatively simple reference system that covers a broad range of web topics. Plus their Try-It-Yourself tutorials are great for testing out simple things without having to go through the overhead of creating your own document, template, etc.

  4. Some weeks ago I finished reading “Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML”. I have 8 years experience in coding HTML & CSS with or without Dreamweaver. It took me months and years to understand how to code valid HTML and how to create semantic markup. While reading this book I thought to myself: “I should have read it 8 years ago.” This book is really a good start.

  5. Hey, I second Ansgar’s suggestion of Head First CSS & XHTML. It is really a nice intro to standards based design , and the importance they give to correct markup and Markup first design second is very nice. On the whole a very good book, and it is structured exactly for a newbie. Although, someone who is a very strong programmer might find its tone/style irritating.

    After that, and “The Zen Of CSS Design ” book, are great . The Zen of CSS design really shows you how to use colours and more to give character to the site.

    After this, actual practice will help….:)

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