This is actually an old version of For the latest and greatest, check out the new site.

Launch Pad

Getting going in the web industry is a topic all too familiar to my inbox lately. Lately, I’ve seen a surge in requests on how to start integrating PHP, JavaScript, Ajax, and every other technology under the sun. Here’s the #1 tip I give people when they ask me how to jump-start their web careers:

Learn HTML.

That’s it. No matter what type of work you’re doing for the web, the end result is always HTML. Server-side languages have to output it. Client-side languages manipulate it. Even rich media, like Flash, must be embedded in it.

Take the time to learn about markup. At the very least, you should know how to write it by hand. Study your tags. Research the value of semantics.

Necessity will naturally enable you to learn more and integrate other languages into your skill set, but it’s important to have a good foundation. Once you have that, you’ll start to understand the limitations of what you’re working with, and it’ll be much easier to look for and find solutions, like client-side languages or database-driven sites, that will enable you to do more.

Unless you’re fully competent in the basics, you’re only cheating yourself. Get in on the ground floor, and you’ll work your way up in no time.


Richard B said:

You would think that learning HTML first would be obvious, however that is not always the case.

Dan, this is an excellent post. I'm still amazed at the number of those who talk the talk still don't quite walk the walk when it comes to this industry.

Good advice.

Posted on May 28, 2007 06:08 PM

Jermayn Parker said:

and then CSS after html...

Posted on May 28, 2007 10:24 PM

Angelo said:

@ Jermayn - CSS is probably best suited to front-end developers. I think the point here is that HTML is the core of the web. Learn server-side voodoo or client-side magic as needed in ADDITION to HTML. But know your HTML first and foremost. Everyone.

Posted on May 29, 2007 11:30 AM

Brian Warshaw said:

Great post, Dan, and good followup from Angelo. CSS is important, but a good, versatile web interface should always start with HTML markup that makes sense. Too many websites (including some using CSS for layout) are worthless or confusing without the baubles that make them pretty, play nice, or give back to the user. Starting with markup that makes the clearest possible sense is the surest way to see your project through as quickly, painlessly, and perfectly as possible.

Posted on May 29, 2007 09:07 PM

Dan Mall said:

Right on!

Posted on May 29, 2007 09:20 PM

Sorry: comments are closed.