Web development is a fantastic career. It offers a varied and creative workload that allows you to put your stamp on the work you do. It is also an exciting, fast-paced industry with new things to learn all the time. Although a career in tech is rewarding, is web development easy?
To properly answer this we will take a look at the challenges when learning web development and also whether the day-to-day work of web development is easy.
How easy is learning web development?
Learning new things always has its challenges and web development is no different. According to Code.org, which has reached 750 million students worldwide, 2 million students are now 'proficient' in coding.
With those staggering numbers it is easy to assume that picking up web development is easy. Let's flip the is web development easy question and look at it from the opposite angle. Is getting the skills to become a professional web difficult?
No barriers to learning
With web development, you don't need an apprenticeship or another similar program to learn. There are thousands of amazing resources online, all for free. If you go the self-taught route and use sites like freeCodeCamp you could actually learn web development for free.
Does that make learning web development easy? No, but it certainly helps you begin your journey and means you can learn in your own time. However, the sheer amount online resources for you to learn from can actually be an issue.
You can end up jumping from video to video and end up learning in a completely unstructured way which makes learning web development hard. That is why the next point is so important.
Practice makes perfect
Recent research has shown that there are similarities in brain stimulation when learning to code and learning a new language. We are always told when learning a language at school that practice makes perfect. So the same mantra applies to learning to code. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice the easier web development will become.
You have to dedicate a lot of time when learning. The more you put in when learning web development the more you will get out. Mix up the way you are taking in the concepts. Books, videos, code alongs, and courses are all great ways to make important concepts stick.
But you have to build your own projects. Don't get stuck in tutorial hell. Think of something you would like to build, use the concepts you have learned, and do it!
Beginners can sometimes rely too much on following YouTube videos. Instead, you should focus on learning the fundamentals and then putting these into practice without the crutch of a tutorial to glance back to every two minutes.
Those who think web development is hard often stall at the tutorial stage and never move on to creating their own projects, big or small! Overall I'd say web development is easy if you are willing to put in the time, are dedicated, and persistent when you come across a problem.
How easy is web development day-to-day?
When discussing whether web development is hard we must look at the work you will be doing on a daily basis. The tech industry is so broad and the day-to-day for each role is different.
If your role is focused purely on the designing look of a site, it could be considered by many as an easier route of web development. If you are building complex apps, web development becomes more difficult.
In all honesty "difficulty" is subjective and each of the roles requires different skills. Some may be more client-facing and need better soft skills. While others require a focus on problem solving and a more technical mindset.
So is web development hard? It depends on your current strengths and type of web development role you want to land.
Is it easy to become a web developer?
The low barriers to entry make it very easy to become a web developer. On top of that, there is a job shortage of around a million tech jobs in the U.S. alone. The number of resources online makes it easy to start your web development career as long as you are willing to dedicate yourself during the initial learning period.
As discussed acquiring the necessary skills is all about putting in the time. But what else can make becoming a web developer easier? I still use the tip below now and it was invaluable, especially at the start of my journey
Setting goals has been the single most valuable thing I have done since starting my developer journey. I set daily, weekly, and monthly targets then worked towards them. It forced me to write down and focus on what was important.
It made the entire process of learning web development easy. Well easier. They were never concrete goals and I was hard on myself if I missed a 'deadline'. The aim isn't to learn X language by Y date but instead to set timelines for courses, books, module, and practice.
Once you have done this, you can begin to split your daily and weekly time up. I would try and segment my day and weeks into segments of theory and practice. If you track your goals it is far easy to determine how far you have come and how much you have learned. It also allows you to asses your weaknesses and plan goals to tackle these going forward.
Becoming a programmer isn't a switch where one day you can understand everything. It is a journey where you steadily acquire more knowledge and skills.
Track your time
In my first 6 months of coding I wrote down every single hour of coding I did into a spreadsheet. I checked out a local coding bootcamps syllabus and worked out their minimum time spent learning would be 40 hours a week for 12 weeks. So a total of 480 hours.
I was going the self-taught route so knew I would need longer than that and aimed for 600 hours of study. At first you will be doing a lot of listening, reading, and understanding so days may be more theory focused. But once you grasps concepts your time shifts more towards practicing by making small web pages and apps.
I found tracking my time a great way to keep myself honest. How much time was I really spending per day coding? How was I feeling on my heavy weeks compared to my light weeks?
Like with your goals, tracking time is not the be all end all. Spending too much time per day coding can be counterproductive and things will stop going in. Small solid bursts of effort throughout the day is a winning formula.
What parts of learning web development are hard?
The first things you will learn when becoming a web developer are HTML and CSS. HTML is a markup language and use to structure a webpage, it isn't generally used for functional purposes. CSS is used to style your HTML and make it look the way you want.
These are easier parts of web development and are great when you first start out because they offer instant visual feedback. Overall, I'd say it wets your appetite nicely and is fun!.
The positive feedback loop of writing some HTML and seeing it on the screen stops abruptly. You can spend hours on a single problem because your syntax is wrong. But this is where grit and perseverance matter so much!
I know when I first started out I just jumped in and ended up quitting because I didn't respect the process and tried to skip stuff and move on The knowledge comes overtime and nailing the basics is essential. For me the hardest part of learning web development was sticking at it. The novelty eventually wears off and you realise that its a challenge which will require a lot of effort.
You will no doubt rage quit after staring at a problem for hours to then only realise it was something trivial. But thats part of the fun and you definitely won't make that same mistake again. It is why the goal setting and time tracking I mentioned above is so crucial. It keeps you accountable and makes sure you persevere to put the time.
How long will it take to learn web development?
Every developer should strive to keep continually learning in every role. But picking up a second or third language is far easier than learning your first. Estimating how long it will take you to learn web development is a tough. It will depend on a few things:
- Your current computer skills
- The amount of time you can set aside
- Your previous programming experience
- Passion and willingness to learn
- The resources available to you
The best ways to learn web development
Depending on the factors above, web development be easy or insanely difficult. Fortunately there are different ways to get into the industry which suit everyone.
University or College
Timeframe: 3 - 4 years
Many people go to college to learn web development. It's perfect if you don't have much programming experience and are lacking in other tech skills. Courses help broaden your understanding of core computer science and provide ample opportunity to code.
Overall its a great option if you have the time to set aside and the money to pay for expensive tuition. It also makes getting a job easier.
Timeframe: 6 months - 1 year
I went the self-taught route and exclusively through online courses. I started out with Youtube videos and cut my teeth on sites like FreeCodeCamp. Aside from that I then took four separate courses on Udemy The first was a general bootcamp, the second a JS-focused course, the third a CSS-focused course, and the last a React course.
Udemy is a fantastic resource with thousands of great courses with more added and updated all the time. With millions of people learning on there, it baffles the mind that some people as still asking if web development is dying.
I highly recommend learning web development in this way. However, it can make web development hard and requires a lot of passion, dedication, and discipline. It's the perfect route if you have a lot of time and are computer literate but don't want to fork out for university or a bootcamp.
Timeframe: 3 months - 1 year
The popularity of coding boot camps is why people believe web development is oversaturated. They are an alternative route into the industry instead of going to college. Most of them are very thorough and will teach you everything you need to have a long and fruitful career in development.
Most programs last less than a year with some fast-track courses over in less than four months. The benefit of boot camps is all the additional resources you get. Most offer the guarantee of a job, general career advice, and a mentor. On top of that, you can use your classmates as a great network of developers spread throughout the industry.
Overall these are perfect for people in a hurry, who have money on hand, and can at least use a computer.