Basic Steps Involved in Teaching Yourself to Become a Web Developer

If you’re a young person finishing high school, you had good grades, you’re sharp, you love computers, and you have financial backing…you might just be headed off to college to master the art of higher learning. However…let’s say you’re not. Let’s say that the college opportunity door opened, then closed, and you’re still standing where you were without having gone through it. SURE, you can go to college now, but do you want to?

Let’s say instead that there were a way to earn very good money in the real world, but without having to spend the next 3 or 4 years of your time (to say nothing of your money) learning a trade that may or may not pay off for you. Let’s say that you could simply apply yourself to being your own teacher, and still come out on top. That is precisely what is possible in our day and age, and precisely what you’ll need to do to make yourself a Web developer without going to college.

Okay, it’s time to talk details. Let’s start with basic computer skills. If you’re not computer literate at this point, then you’re not necessarily in the wrong place (i.e., wanting to become a Web developer), but it might just be that you’re here at the wrong time. First, become computer literate. There are other classes that are built for that. Go do that, then come back here. However, if you are computer literate, take the first step toward becoming a Web developer…and this will involve a trip to Borders, or Barnes & Noble, or whatever bookstore is close by.

#1 – Buy yourself a coffee, then go look at the Computer Programming section of the bookstore. When I first took this step, it was recommended to me that I buy Sam’s Teach Yourself ASP.NET in 21 days. I bought it. It’s a great book, but nobody told me that page one of that book is still like Greek to a true beginner. Thus, first pick up the newest teach yourself ASP.NET for true beginners and you’ll be off on the right track. Then find Sam’s Teach Yourself ASP.NET in 21 Days, or some such “instructor’s manual”.

#2 – Now, organize your schedule. You’ll be needing the next few months to BEGIN to teach yourself this trade. Decide on a truly reasonable schedule that you can live with over a relatively long period of time. It’s much better to study for one to two hours daily than for 12 hours straight on the weekend. Find the time…then sit down in front of your computer, open the first book to page one, and begin to read.

#3 – Be a kind teacher. The really cool teachers that we remember from school were the ones that were kind, but at the same time, could really teach us something. Be that way with yourself. When you’ve been studying for a few days and you shut your book, drop your head into your hands, and say, “I’ll NEVER get this!”, then be kind to yourself. Recognize that nobody got it in the first couple of days, weeks, or even months. It takes time, but you have to keep moving forward. When you get worn down, depressed, or just feel like giving up, take a break! Go make a coffee, take a nap, or whatever relaxes you. Then come back and before opening the book again, stop and ask yourself this one, simple question: What do I know right now about this subject that I did not know when I started? Chances are very, very good that you will answer that question with quite a few things that you’ve learned. Thus, you ARE INDEED learning.

#4 – Find a way to enjoy what you are learning. When we actually enjoy something, we will keep doing it. Thus, when teaching yourself to become a Web developer, don’t forget to isolate what it is that you enjoy most about the tasks that the books/manuals give you, and then capitalize on those! Share them with your family and/or friends. Live it up. Enjoy yourself.

#5 – Once you have worked hard for months at this “project”, chances are that you’ll be wanting to start to earn money at it.

Stay tuned for the following article about how to take your training to the next level…and actually earn some money!

Copywriting as a Part of Web Development

A part of web development is copywriting. Excellent copy means it has to be appealing to both readers and to search engines. This combination will help websites to rank highly. A problem occurs when there are space constraints to a site, page layout requirements or other issues.

Because appealing to both readers and search engines is so important, you don’t want to sacrifice one for the other. Adding a big block of copy to the middle of a page may not be the best answer, however, if a page needs content, adding a couple of sentences to the bottom of each section is a good option. Your copy will still be readable and the additional content will appeal to the search engines.

There are some things to remember when writing content for a website.

  • Web users are active. One click and they have left your site. If they don’t see a reason to stay, they won’t. There is a 10 – 15 second window available to capture a visitor’s attention.
  • The longer the text is, the less likely they are to read it. With long text, they will skim it, if they bother to read it at all.
  • Web users don’t believe in hype. If you want a web user to believe you and to believe in you, you must back up your claims.

Four questions must be answered on each page:

  • What am I doing here?
  • How do I do it?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Where can I go, next?

If your design and navigation isn’t obvious, then you need to explain it in the copy. Most visitors will not take the time to figure this information out. If a first time visitor cannot find their way around your site, they will likely never come back.

Unless your visitors are expecting to read something on your page, don’t expect that they will read more than one or two lines of copy.

Understanding your copy is as important as length. Don’t make the copy so complicated that it is difficult to comprehend or make it so the customer will have to think about it because they won’t.

What this means is you want to convey one key idea in just one or two lines. Don’t try to add a third line because if you say too much, then even the first idea won’t penetrate. If your site needs more content, break it down into sections that are one or two paragraphs each. Say what you want to say in the first sentence and then expand the thought into the paragraph. Use meaningful headers. Most people will only scan the headers to the paragraphs and not even bother with the copy on the page, unless it is something that appeal to them. It is better to write only one or two lines with links to another page with the longer copy.

Even when users are expecting to find text heavy content, don’t expect they will take the time to read all of it. Longer copy doesn’t have to be as abrupt as shorter text, but it needs to be as easy to read.

Make your copy clear, but not boring. Lively writing with an unassuming voice is best. Boring writing will turn your reader off and nothing you say at that point will make it through.

Choosing A Web Development Company Through References

Finding a web development company to create a website for you may seem daunting, but it isn’t. It’s all in the references and prior work that these companies have done!

The biggest reason you are creating a website is to get traffic and therefore, more new customers–correct? There is an easy way to figure out whether a potential web developer will get you these big numbers. First, visit some websites that this developer has created for other people. Figure out what the company that particular website is for does and, in a separate browser window, do a general search pertaining to what that company does (be sure to omit the exact name of the company or their slogan, if they have one). Does the company come up in the first handful of search results? If you have gotten to page three or four of the search results and yet to find that company, then something is wrong.

Once you’ve done your research on all these potential web development companies, have then come in for a visit. Discuss what you have in mind for your own website and see what these companies have to say. Do they offer constructive feedback on what will work and what may not? Do they agree to do every single thing you lay out? Do they disagree with everything? You want a company that is willing to take your idea and run with it by improving it and creating something beyond your expectations, and this cannot be done with a developer that agrees (or disagrees) with everything you suggest.

Lastly, discuss pricing. If a particular company seems like a brilliant fit for you, both through your private research and the interview, but they give you a price that seems a little high, then don’t dismiss them immediately. “You get what you pay for” is true in this case, and keep in mind that the extra costs may be quickly paid for by increased search engine hits and new customers.