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Become a Junior Developer, Learn Web Development from Scratch

May 9, 2023
May 17, 2023
Episode Number:

Practice makes perfect, so it makes sense when senior developers tell aspiring juniors to "just code" and it will all work out. The problem with "just code" is that a complete beginner will have no idea where to start, or what to code up. Should they use HTML, React, or PHP? What type of project should they code up? In this episode, Matt and Mike hope to lay out a clear pathway on where to start learning web development for absolute beginners. We hope that the discussion will also help those that are acting as mentors for soon-to-be junior web developers.


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Show Notes

Want to learn JavaScript? We released a companion episode to this one "Learning JavaScript from Scratch" give it a listen!


  • We hear "just code" a lot, but code what?
  • What are the steps we should take when coding? Jump right into React?
  • Do we need traditional school?
  • Should we follow any sort of "miracle routine" of becoming a web developer with a successful 6-figure business in just 6 weeks?

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Why do we hear "just code" all the time?

  • "Just code" means that you should be practicing, practice makes perfect
  • The problem with telling a complete beginner to "just code" is that they may have no idea where to start, in a sea of options ranging from React through Webflow
  • We suggest the pathway: HTML - CSS - JS
    - After learning these vanilla technologies, then we suggest you start learning something related to your pathway (ie a prospective employer may value React skills)
  • HTML, CSS, and JS are the foundational technologies of this industry, a foundation that you can build on virtually any way you like

Do we need traditional school?

  • Do you need traditional school to learn how to code? 
    - No.
  • Do you need traditional school to reach your personal and/or professional goals?
    - Maybe, depends on you.

Educational Pathways

  • Bootcamps
    - Fast and focused
    - Often designed to get you a job
    - You hit a curriculum hard and fast with an end goal in mind (ie React junior developer roles at a company)
  • Traditional Schools
    - Provide formalities for resumes (ie degrees, diplomas)
    - Can teach you how to learn
    - Give you exposure to other courses and may offer different options as pathways towards graduation (ie you may learn vanilla then have a choice to learn Svelte, or React)
    - Options based on availability: night classes, full-time, online, at your own pace (usually online)
  • Self-Taught (Directed)
    - Online courses via services like Scrimba, Udemy, FreeCodeCamp
    - May provide some sort of formality (ie certification of completion that some workplaces may acknowledge)
  • Self-Taught (Self-Directed)
    - You teach yourself the skills through research, videos, and more
    - You need to be disciplined in order to keep on track and not skip out on too many learning days
    - You'll need to know how to learn things yourself (no teacher to give you bite-sized bits of curriculum)
    - There are no formalities unless specifically seeked out (ie Webflow certification, W3Schools Certification)
    - Always ensure that the certifications mentioned above will provide your career value before jumping into them as they can be expensive to participate in
    - Even if you do go to school (ie college) you'll always have more to learn. This additional learning is typically self-taught (self-directed)

Beyond the miracle learning pathways

There are a lot of "follow these 10 steps to success" whether or not these have some validity it's harder to change your entire lifestyle on a dime to participate in some of these workflows.

Start with HTML

  • Learn what tags are and how to write them
  • Learn the structure of the average webpage
  • Layout a page however you'd like, to start learning how the DOM flows naturally
  • Take note of where certain aspects go
    - For example, link tags in the HEAD section
  • Once you complete your web page and understand the flow + skeletal structure then you can move onto CSS
    - If you have any confusion or doubt (you probably will) I recommend continuing making pages with just HTML until you start to feel a little comfortable.
    - If you move onto CSS too early, you can always come back to this step and practice HTML more

Move on to CSS

  • Learn the basics of classes and IDs
  • Understanding basic properties
    - Box Model: padding, margin, width, height
    - Text: color, alignment, decorations
    - Layouts: display flex (I'd stick with flex only for now)
  • Take your HTML skeleton mentioned above and start to style it they way you'd like, exercising your new knowledge of classes, IDs, and basic properties
  • Keep on trying to design your skeleton, looking up different ways to get through any struggles
    - This will teach you how some problems have multiple approaches in CSS
    - It will also teach you how to solve some problems with properties you've likely never seen before
  • Continue practicing your CSS on your skeleton and/or multiple pages until you start feeling comfortable with it