Ask DN: What do I need to learn/become to successfully break into the web industry?

6 years ago from

Hey dudes and dudettes,

I have been building websites since the late 90's on and off but never as a full time career. Most of my work I have done is some time ago and none of the websites I have worked on are currently online. I have earned several thousand dollars making websites but not as my main career.

Recently I have decided I want to supercharge my career and really get fully into the industry and I am working on updating my skills and producing portfolio content. I became a student at Treehouse about 6 weeks ago and have already learned a lot about how things have changed.

Previous work I have done have been several basic static business websites and PDF document design, an e-commerce shop powered by Shopify, a sports news website that aggravated data from RSS feeds and a fantasy sports site that i programmed from the ground up that included custom user authentication/signup system, forum software, social network and custom content management system all created in PHP (This was about ten years ago though!)

I am looking at becoming a full stack developer/designer, with key skills likely being something like HTML/CSS, JS/JQuery and PHP, then learning frameworks and perhaps expanding to things like rails etc. I also want to focus on learning some better outright design skills that are relevant to the field (layout, typography, color theory etc), and perhaps illustrator/sketch/etc cause I suck at illustration.

The basic idea is that I want to get to the place where I can either 1) Sell my services directly to individuals and small business that want a complete website made. 2) Build my own web app/digital services or 3) Find employment in the area.

Any advice would be appreciated as well as suggestions in what I need to learn/become competent in (I am trying to build myself a basic curriculum), resources you would recommend, general comments you have etc etc.

Thank you for being awesome! :)


  • Jon GoldJon Gold, 6 years ago

    Work hard, be nice to people, smile, keep at it for a while.

    2 points
  • Robert Deniszczyc, 6 years ago

    Definitely first learn (or perhaps in your case, relearn/get up to speed) with the current technologies and approaches in HTML/CSS, JS, PHP and at the same time you'll probably at least gain an awareness of frameworks and approaches out there.

    Be careful not to stumble into the trap of accidentally learning a framework or library as opposed to a language - and if you do start to learn more about a library such as jQuery remember to learn the differences between the library and the core language, in this example JavaScript.

    As for design theory there are loads of books and resources out there, A Book Apart and Five Simple Steps are two great publishers for books. The best way to get better at illustrator/sketch is to just have a play and get to know the tools. Throw your work up on places to get feedback, such as Dribbble, and where possible seek constructive criticism.

    Remember you (we all) know nothing and you (we all) will never know everything. Keep a record of your progress so you can evaluate your own work on a regular basis and see how much you have improved.

    Most of all, enjoy it!

    0 points