Why Trust Me?
You want to know the makings of a web developer?
Four hours a day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year.
Multiply that by ten, and you’d have a world-class developer…but until you can find one, you’ll just have to settle for the likes of me 😉
And who am I?
For the past two years, I worked as a Teaching Assistant at Udemy, answering dozens of questions from students every day. For the year before that, I strove to gain the skills of a full-stack developer; and succeeded.
From thousands of replies in the Q&A and from my own experience building dozens of websites both independently and as course projects, I put together this guide for you: the best method, path, and resources to becoming a hire-worthy developer within a year.
And why learn web development?
Because of curiosity.
The allure of uncharted territory, the skill of virtual wizardry.
Because of the rage-to-master.
The challenge of a new topic to feed on, fresh prey for the mind to rend asunder.
And, of course, there’s the money.
You want to know the fastest path to the skills you need to get a lucrative job as a developer?
Read on then!
Why Choose Udemy?
Udemy claims the lion’s share of your education: a couple Franklins for a couple dozen of its best masterclasses.
You can get better-recognized certifications at its rival brand-names: Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Edx et cetera.
But you’re not paying for certifications; you’re paying for skills, which you’re going to use to build up a stellar portfolio, which is what’s gonna get you in the door of that dream job.
And at ten bucks for a fifty-hour complete Bootcamp, Udemy fits the bill like no other.
(Hint: Watch out for the frequent sales, especially around holidays.)
Udemy has many great instructors. Fun yet professional, comprehensive yet concise, smart yet modest; pros who know their stuff, and know how to teach it well.
Their courses deliver. Projects are built from the ground up before your very eyes, often by your very hands. The nits and grits of web development, explained with the minute details that you can only hear from a pro. High-brow concepts that boggle your mind, used together in techniques that blow it away. I promise you, you’ll be hooked just as I was 😉
Their support rocks. The Q&A is a treasure-trove, and I’m a treasure-hunter. So much so, in fact, that I became a Teaching Assistant myself, adding jewels to the coffers of Jonas Schmedtmann, my first instructor. (He adds some to mine too 🙂 )
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Udemy Courses
In a phrase, keep your eyes on the greens.
A) Code Your Own Stuff
After having completed each lesson, code up a sample of your own experiment – you can use CodePen, JSFiddle, or your code editor of choice (my favorite by far is VS Code, by the way) to see them in action. E.g., if you learned something about functions, write down some functions of your own.
Don’t worry if your projects are not as bulky or articulate as the instructors’; that’s natural and expected at this point, and your projects will still hold a lot more weight than theirs in your portfolio since they’re truly yours.
Experience is the best teacher, and if you’re not its best student, you’ll be in a lot of pain. And trust me, the recruiters will feel your pain when they see your portfolio.
Think of it this way: if you were hiring, who would you trust more to build your website?
The monkey who just “coded-along” with the projects designed by the instructors of a dozen courses?
Or the guy or gal who also came up with the design and code of a dozen websites on their own?
B) Make Sure You Understand It
Ask questions in the Q&A, on Stack Overflow, on Reddit or Quora. Google stuff you don’t understand – look for syntax explanations on MDN, for great articles on HackerNoon, Medium, SitePoint and others, for docs and codes on Github, for questions on Stack Overflow (again).
Check out the documentation of any npm packages, editor plugins and service websites you make use of.
Don’t rush along to cover as much video ground as possible; it’s all meaningless unless you understand it, unless you master it, unless you can actually make use of it when you need it.
Also, don’t be afraid to review videos you didn’t get well or don’t remember well, especially once you get to building your own projects.
If your portfolio impresses, you’re going to get interviewed.
If you’re a decent human being with common-sense knowledge of the basics of web development, you’re then going to get tested on technical skills.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve memorized the whole YDKJS book series if you can’t solve a basic JS problem, or if you’ve learned to solve problems like a robot but can’t explain your understanding of the core concepts behind the solution.
C) Network, Advertise, Apply
As soon as you gain any worthwhile skill at all, start to make waves in social media – LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, Twitter, etc. -, cuddle up to recruitment agencies, streamline a dozens-by-the-day job application process, and show off your expertise on your own blog and on Medium with a gazillion posts.
You have to put yourself out there, not just with a short bio, but with your involvement, your willingness to participate in the development communities, to display your passion for this amazing adventure. You don’t have to lie or boast, just let others know who you are and what you can do; and don’t just tell it, show it. Also, by going to interviews and putting your name in front of recruiters’ eyes early on, you get practice answering questions and solving problems, so that you’re prepared when that big opportunity comes your way.
Finally, learning is a rather long process. You’ll need to be patient. Don’t expect to spend 20 hours watching some guy or gal code and explain stuff and then be able to churn out a perfect website yourself, much less to get paid to do it. But you do need to be aware that getting paid to do it is your chief aim, and you need to plan accordingly from the get-go. Don’t lose track of your goal by delving into stuff that gets you nowhere closer to your dream job (wait until after you’ve got it to do so…and be paid to do it!), and make sure to pay attention to your self-promotion along the way.
Now at last, here are the top courses on Udemy that most benefited my adventure learning to code. I placed them in the order that I feel would have been most helpful to me should I go back.
I also suggested a timetable for them that roughly parallels my own, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work for you; just go at your own pace, and remember that persistence matters more than speed.
Standing Straight: The Bootcamp Keyhole
From January 1 to February 1
Start by taking one of the following, in order of preference:
a) Colt Steele’s
b) Rob Percival’s
c) Andrei Neagoie’s
Either one of these will suffice to give you an in-depth overview of the journey ahead.
First Steps: The HTML&CSS Doorway
From February 1 to April 1
Here you have semantic HTML, organized css, a bag of jQuery tricks, the best web design resources – fonts, icons, favicons, packages, etc. -, and responsive design, blended together into a real-world project, a one-page company site. You have the philosophy of coupling quality code with quality design. And to top the cherry, you have me, in the Q&A (limited time offer! ;).
Oh, so you want more than the basics? Then I’ll see you in Jonas’s expert course:
That’s some cutting-edge CSS skill-set you’re giving us here, Jonas: using Sass with BEM and other best practices, speeding up your workflow with Emmet, laying out your sites using grid and flexbox, creating complex timed animations with Bezier curves, and doing advanced responsive design and cross-browser compatibility – with ease. It feels like drinking true, quality, well-aged CSS wine, with a fancy flex-box of fine Sass-chocolates, and the bezstier Grid-e oranges.
Does all that moving around of files and folders by hand bother you, and do all those other boring, repetitive tasks seem undignified? Well then, look no further than Brad Schiff’s course:
With a straightforward, even-voiced and clear-headed approach, Brad teaches the command line, working in Git from the command line, task automation with Gulp, postCSS, modular file organization, useful NPM packages, mobile-first development and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Now, do you think you’ve got what it takes to do front-end web development?
Think again; all you can do for now is static sites with no buzz; no sparkles. So, what are you missing?
Whether you plan to stick with the front-end, or are ready to dive into the back-end, PHP is a versatile and useful language.
So go ahead and grab
Designed by Edwin Diaz, this masterclass shows you everything you need to know to get started with PHP. The approach of learning to create a CMS like WordPress using PHP is quite challenging, but well enough executed.
Alas, PHP is not enough; to create truly dynamic, interactive websites, you’ll need an audience with the king of the web.
From April 1 to July 1
For starters, let’s just breeze through Anthony Aliceea’s aptly-named course:
I know, I know. Theoretic, monotonous, no exercise, no project. Don’t worry, Jonas has you covered once again with:
Oh, you want more problem-solving exercises?
Well then, let me introduce you to Colt Steele, one of the greatest teachers at Udemy, and his new course:
When it was released in mid-August 2018, I grabbed it the second it hit my mail-box. And it was a masterpiece, indeed: take it if you think you’ve got what it takes to turn into a problem-solving beast. It’ll get you ready to fight in the CodeWars as a proud JS warrior (beware the 3-kyu katas, though; they can be a bit addictive).
Now, do you feel more confident in your skills?
So did I; but how do you go from here to building a thousand-module app? Enter the awesome nirvana…of frameworks.
Picking Up The Pace: Front-End Frameworks
From July 1 to October 1
Angular. React. Vue. Take your pick, or let your ideal job pick for you. Once you’ve learned one, you can quickly learn any other.
I picked Angular to be my first because it opened up good job opportunities in my area, because I liked the versatile data binding, rigorous use of TypeScript, and other details of the technology, and because it afforded me great freedom of design.
Anthony Aliceea proves helpful yet again with his
I know what you’re thinking – “that stuff’s out-dated, man!” However, it’s as good an introduction as I’ve ever seen to the core Angular concepts, terminology, and documentation, and the contrast between old and new enables a better grasp of modern-day Angular.
by Maximilian Schwarzmuller, one of the greats. The course is regularly updated, so once you’ve taken it, you’ll be able to stay up to date on the Angular front (currently at version 10). Learning with Maximilian is a pleasure, his calm and even-voiced approach fitting in well with my preferences.
Since you can’t really use Angular today without a thorough grasp of TypeScript, let’s expand on that with Maximilian’s
Which does exactly as it sounds it would.
(In the interest of providing you with the very best, let me make a short digression here. Udemy and I go way back, but this time I gotta hand it over to Todd Motto at “Ultimate Angular”. He knows to teach this stuff better than any Udemy instructor I’ve come across, but he does use some big, computer-sciency words. Covering the latest Angular, TypeScript, RxJS, and NGRX, his courses remain the golden standard for learning Angular to this day. If you’ve got the money, that is…like, 200 bucks for two courses: as much as all others on this list put together!)
Next up, let’s learn Ionic with Paul Halliday’s
That’s some hands-on learning you got there Paul! Each section accompanied with a small app to see it all in action, and an excellent main project to weave it all together. Nice bonus lectures too.
We’re not satisfied with the basics though, are we? Time to hit the nail on its head again with Paul’s advanced class,
Which shows us how to use Cordova in order to integrate native mobile features into our apps.
While we’re in the habit of collecting frameworks, why not give Bootstrap a glance? If nothing else, it would let us rapidly prototype websites to be coded by hand afterward – not to mention it looks cool on our resume. We’re in luck; Colt Steele’s
Which came out in October 2018. It’s so well-made, you can breeze through the whole framework in a couple of days, and have a cool project to show for it.
Building more momentum, how about taking a shot at Laravel, the go-to PHP framework?
Kati Franz has you covered here with her
Notice a trend here about real-world projects? That’s because the best way to learn to do real-world projects is to actually do real-world projects (duh!).
Since PHP goes hand-in-hand with WordPress, let’s learn to hand-code themes, plugins and dynamic sites with the all-popular CMS. You’ll never run out of jobs with this one, so go over to Udemy and grab Brad Schiff’s
And prepare to spend the better part of a month learning WordPress development.
I’d say we now know quite enough to be just about competent on the front-end. And right in the nick of time, since the back-end looks so enticing; and is just a little Node away.
Up And Running: Back-End Networks
From October 1 to December 1
First off, let’s attend a brief orientation session with Aliceea’s
Anthony’s clarity of explanation remains unsurpassed (as does his talent for boring the Dickens out of me).
Next, let’s repeat the JS learning path by taking Jonas’s
Released in late 2019 and very much up-to-date, it is the creme de la creme of Node courses I’ve flirted with. It blows Azat Mardan’s courses over at Node University right out of the water, and also beats Maximilian Schwarzmüller’s backend Udemy courses, even when they’re all put together.
Finally, we’ve put off long enough Colt’s
This, together with the PHP you had learned, will really help you crack the back-end in several spots…hot, in-demand spots. 😉
Taking Flight: Workflow Mastery With DevOps
From 1 December to 31 December
Now we’ve done it, right? We’re finally there: a full-fledged, full-stack developer…right? Well…kinda.
You have the big skills now, but there are many levels of those skills, and there are many micro-skills to improve on. Those really make a difference in the aggregate and contribute to shaping you into an exceptional developer.
Throughout your journey, there are quite a few mini-courses that get an A in your book. In mine, those include “Web Design for Web Developers: Build Beautiful Websites!”, “Introduction to Web Technologies”, “EMMET Faster HTML & CSS workflow – Best Tool For Developers”, “npm – Mastering the Basics”, “Chrome DevTools: Debug Code Like A Pro”, “SEO Training Course by Moz”, and “Writing With Flair: Become An Exceptional Writer” (what’s that last one got to do with coding? Well, you’re reading all this coding stuff right now…and someone’s got to write your resume 😉 ).
We’ve already got hefty glimpses into cool tools that help us appreciate the value of a better workflow, such as:
– Gulp for task automation, which allows for greater speed and ease of development.
– Git for version control, which allows for greater speed and ease of maintenance, as well as co-ordination between developers and teams.
– ERB – Embedded Ruby –, which allows for modular HTML file architecture.
– Emmet, which allows for greater speed of writing HTML code.
– SCSS, which allows for modular CSS file architecture and greater speed and flexibility of writing CSS code.
– Webpack 4, which allows for modular JS file architecture, and quite a few other things if you really master it.
But on top of all that, one last piece of the workflow keeps nagging at us. If we are to nail this puzzle in 2020, we’ve got to get DevOps-serious.
So go ahead and fit in that last elusive piece, the crown jewel of workflow boosters, by taking Jayson Tyler’s
Be sure to mention this skill on your resume, and to start bringing a handkerchief to interviews for when employers start drooling over your skill-set 😉
That’s all folks: a developer’s one-year journey from code-illiterate to full-stack developer. Let’s give a vigorous round of applause to yourself and your Udemy instructors on this one. I might even add a course of my own to it one day.
Launching Into Space: Next Year’s Plans
Do you know that saying, more passion than time? Well, you do now: and it carves our next year’s learning path. If you want my advice, it’s more DevOps, it’s Docker and Kubernetes, it’s React and Vue with all they’ve got.
What’s more, it takes us through the hot spots: Blockchain development skills, in particular as relevant to smart contracts, and Machine Learning knowledge, in particular as it applies to self-driving cars. They both seem fun, interesting, and pretty well paid.
I guess we both know how true it is that “there’s more to do than can ever be done” in web development, all the more so within a year. But I think you’ll also agree that we’ve come a pretty long way in quite a short time 🙂
But wait, did you actually still think we were “done”? Oh boy, we’ve barely begun on that great career. Because once we’ve got the skills, we gotta put them to good *cough: auction…ehem…action.
Reaching Lightspeed: Share Your Journey
Are you too penny-pinching to shell out ten bucks to try out even the first course on this list? No worries then, Andrei Neagoie’s got you covered with his great article “Learn to code in 2020, get hired, and have fun along the way”, where he shamelessly spills the beans on all of his course’s sources, all of them free. It’s a bit like this article you’re reading now, only even better (hat down to you, Andrei. 🙂 )
The buck passes on to you now (hopefully literally 😉 ) – what courses and resources do you think contributed most to your development as a developer (pun unintended but smilingly retained)?
Let me and the others know in the comments box!