I think the number one, most important factor necessary to successfully teach yourself anything is motivation. It’s not intelligence, time or even money. It’s motivation. Motivation is what causes you to invest time in the learning process, push through learning plateaus and fight through difficult concepts. There could be several motivating factors pushing you to learn. For me, the motivating factor that propelled me through the web development learning process was success.
When I speak of success, I am not referring to my career or career goals, though I would acknowledge that part of my reason for learning was career related. The success I am referencing are those little victories I experienced every time I was able to take something that I had studied and actually produce satisfactory results. Reading through a topic on HTML or CSS and then being able to reproduce what I had read in my own web page gave me a real sense of accomplishment. That tangible outcome of my efforts motivated me even more to learn.
When in school at a young age, it was often impossible to see the outcome of our learning. It may have taken years before you truly understood why math was so important, assuming you think it is important now. My 10-year-old son is at that point. He does not see ever using multiplication or division in real life. Because of that perspective, he is very unmotivated to learn.
When learning web development, most of the topics you study can be quickly tested. All you need is three basic tools: a computer, a text editor and a web browser. That is one of the great things about web development; you are not required to purchase any additional tools to get started. When you purchased your computer, the chance of you not having everything you need is slim. Here is how simple it is to get started.
Open up a text editor on your computer. If using a Windows-based computer, go to the “Start” menu and find the program Notepad. Enter in the same text as I did below:
Now save the file as “HelloWorld.html” or whatever name you choose. Make sure your file ends with .html and not .txt. Next, open your favorite browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc). Now, find the “File” menu. If it is not visible, for Windows-based computers, press the “Alt” button. Now click on either “Open” or “Open File”, depending on which browser you use, and find the html page you just created. If you entered everything correctly, you should now see your newly created page.
That’s it. You have just created your first web page. Try adding new items to your html document. Save the document then refresh your web browser. If everything is correct, you new additions should be visible.
As you begin learning a new topic, put it into practice. Don’t just read through the material on HTML and CSS. Try and duplicated what you are learning on the screen. Hopefully your success will motivate you to continue learning.