Published on December 29, 2018 in HTML & CSS.
Is HTML easy to learn? It certainly seems daunting. And maybe you're thinking that it's too difficult for you to learn. But this post is all about showing you just how easy HTML can be. Let's get to it!
So is HTML easy to learn? In short, yes. HTML is very easy to learn. While it is code, and while it may seem daunting to you at first, you don't need to have any kind of programming experience. HTML isn't nearly as hard to learn as you might think.
In fact if you're ready, you can get a solid foundation (and have some fun too!) in just a few hours in my full-length online course, HTML5 & CSS3 Site Design. But that's only if you're really ready to dive into HTML.
In the meantime, you might be asking...
Learning HTML is really easy -- you can be up and running in less than an afternoon, believe it or not. There simply isn't that much to it.
I'll tell you how I learned HTML: I was stuck in Nashua, New Hampshire. I was teaching a week-long class, and after everyone had gone home at the end of the first day, I was faced with the decision to either go back to my hotel alone, or order take-out, hunker down in the empty classroom and finally learn HTML all night. And that's what I did -- I told myself, I'm not going back to the hotel until I've learned the basics of HTML!
By 7:30 or 8:00 at night, I was going "Is this all there is? When does it get hard?" I got through the HTML guide I was using, and packed it in and headed back to the hotel much earlier than I thought. I was both ticked off at myself for putting off something so simple for months and months, and also invigorated that it was all so much simpler than I'd thought!
That was way back in the late 90s. I've been building websites and running online businesses since! And even though a lot has changed since then, HTML hasn't really. The basics are still the basics. And looking forward, HTML will be in use for a long, long time to come.
So, HTML is very easy to learn and it ain't going anywhere soon. You might find it a bit challenging if you're not too comfortable with computers or using the internet. But if you're fine with basic word processing, copying and pasting -- that kinda stuff -- then you'll find HTML very easy.
It's important to know that there isn't anything "hard" to learn in HTML. Once you start digging into it, you'll realize that there are no complex concepts or difficult technicalities to figure out. HTML's all very basic. And that's good news, because it means that you can throw a few hours at it, and then get back to what you'd really rather be doing...but now with a valuable, marketable skill under your belt!
Really, at a minimum, all you need to learn HTML is a computer with a web browser, a plain text editor like NotePad or TextEdit (although a free code editor like Sublime or Atom is much better), a few hours of your time, and a friendly and helpful guide to show you the way -- and I'd love to be your guide! In my full-length online video course, HTML5 & CSS3 Site Design, we sit down together and build a website from complete scratch...and have a lot of fun along the way too!
But in the meantime, just know that HTML is easy to pick up and start using. Further, it doesn't even qualify as programming. A programming language (say, like C++) specifies a series of actions to be taken. HTML doesn't do that. It isn't that sophisticated. Instead, HTML's what's called a markup language. In fact, HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. And all a markup language does is describes what things are -- and in the case of web design, that would be things like headings, paragraphs, images, tables, and so on.
So how long will it take you to learn HTML? That really depends on your objectives. Do you want to become a front-end developer or freelancer? Or do you want to be more like me -- a self-sufficient online business owner who handles most tasks yourself?
You'll have to decide how far you want to go with all this stuff. I wrote about this in another post, Is It Hard To Learn HTML? Here’s The Straight Goods.
But to nail down the fundamentals and have your head wrapped around the basics won't take much time at all. Devote a few hours to it, and that'll be enough for you to realize how simple it is, and give you a solid foundation to build on.
Spend a few days working on hands-on projects, and you'll have an even better idea of HTML, CSS, and web design overall. Anything you'd need to learn beyond the basics you can simply pick up as you go along.
Now that said, if you wanted to become a front-end web developer or freelancer, you'd obviously need to spend much more time working directly with HTML, CSS, and other web technologies. If you wanted to learn web design at this level, it might take a full year or more of working through all kinds of different projects with different clients, facing different challenges and obstacles; working with different technologies, tools, and platforms.
But for most of us, this won't be necessary. Learning the basics of HTML takes an incredibly short period of time. And what you get in return is a set of highly valuable skills. Learning HTML is totally worth it.
And don't think you have to master HTML in its entirety before moving on to other topics, like CSS. In fact, I think it's best to learn HTML and CSS together with hands-on projects. That way, you're actually building something as you're learning.
So the good news is, HTML and CSS are easy to get started with, and they're here to stay for the foreseeable future. And once you have the basics down, you can decide if you want to build on those fundamentals, or focus on other things, like building your online business, starting a web project of some kind, getting into SEO, or something else.
But how long will it take to gain confidence with HTML and web design overall? That's pretty subjective. It could take months and months of working on projects or your online business until you feel confident. Or, if you put your entire life on hold and just went for it, you might be able to do it in a matter of weeks.
For myself, because I've been doing it for so long, I don't even think about it. But I still sometimes forget stuff. Hence this free HTML cheat sheet I put together! The real learning with HTML, CSS, and web design happens not in those few hours or days that you dedicate to learning the basics, but in the years that follow.
And as you're learning and gaining confidence, picture yourself on the other side of the learning curve, knowing HTML and CSS, and feeling confident with them. What would that look like? How would that feel? What would knowing web design mean to you?
Whenever you're feeling stuck or frustrated, keep this stuff in mind.
Now next, what's the best way to begin learning HTML? There's certainly no shortage of ways you can learn. There are plenty of videos, books, websites, workshops, and online courses that you can look into.
However, I'd like to offer some guidance here. I'm constantly learning new things, and I've noticed a pattern that I think can help save you some time as you begin learning HTML for yourself.
Unless you're a bookworm, the most obvious place to turn to when learning something new is the internet. But because there's such a huge amount of information available online, it's very easy to get overwhelmed and confused in a short period of time.
It's very hard to know where to even begin. This is because the nature of the internet is that everything's granular and unstructured.
The problem is that free information online, while being readily available, isn't sorted or organized into any kind of logical structure. This hold true for YouTube videos, forums, blog posts, and more. All the information is out there, but it's scattered across maybe hundreds of videos, posts and forum threads. This means it's going to take a lot of time to sort through everything before any of it starts to make sense.
Not to mention, a lot of it is absolute junk. Anyone, from teenagers in their bedrooms to industry veterans can easily publish content online. How can you, a beginner, know what sources are accurate and which aren't. And to make matters worse, the information you find could be outdated.
And how can you know what's accurate and current if you're just getting started?
That's a big problem. In fact, I see this a lot. And I only know that someone's being inaccurate or misinforming readers and viewers because I've been doing this stuff for so long.
So my strategy when I'm learning something new is this: I try to find the best paid online course I can find. I've taken a ton of courses on all kinds of different topics, from photography to audio production, and much more. Despite the cost, I think this is the fastest way to learn any new topic.
Good courses that are taught by pros are usually well organized and structured, presenting information in a logical progression. Lessons and chapters are often presented in digestible chunks with hands-on tasks, summaries, and more. After all, by design a book or course has to be structured into sections, lessons, and chapters. It's the nature of the medium! So with a paid course, there's no need to trawl through endless amounts of often misleading content.
Instead, by design, everything's sorted and organized. Simply follow along and you'll be well on your way.
And I like online courses because I can do them from home, anytime I like.
Now once I've gone through a course, I've noticed two things happen. First, I now have a broad, general understanding of the topic. I've got a foundation. And second, very naturally, specific questions and issues come up. Now I know some stuff, and I start wondering about some specifics.
This is when I turn to Google and YouTube. Now I know what problem I have, and I know what to search for to fix it. I know what terms to use and what to ask. What I'm after isn't anything too broad -- I just need a short two or three minute answer and I'll get it.
So that's how I'm able to learn lots of things very quickly. And if you want to know what order I recommend learning this stuff in, I talk about this in the last section of this post.
But for now, what about staying motivated and on track?
Well, another big point I'd like to make is to find a big enough reason why. Why should you take the time to learn HTML (or any other skill for that matter)? What's your end goal? What's your reason? Keep that big why in mind as you go, and that'll keep you on track.
Way, way back in Nashua, New Hampshire when I decided to take the plunge into HTML and web design, my big why was that I wanted to be self-sufficient and autonomous. I wanted to build web projects, and I didn't want to be reliant on someone else to build websites for me. I wanted to own and control everything.
That why got me through a lot of late nights and big challenges.
So I suggest you find a big why too. Your reason to learn HTML and web design could be some kind of a project, a business you want to launch, or to become a more valuable employee. Who knows! But your why will keep you motivated. If you're just learning web design for the sake of learning it, it'll be easy to be demotivated. I've seen this time and time again. If you're only interested in learning HTML and web design to make money, then it'll be easy to quit at the first bump in the road.
Alright now, the best way to learn web design and HTML (in my opinion) is through an online course -- specifically one with an instructor you like, who's easy to listen to, and who leads you through some kind of a hands-on project. That way, you're actually building something and seeing results right away rather than just memorizing stuff that doesn't connect with other things.
So apply what you're learning to some kind of project. That could be a practice project or it could be something bigger, like your own website or online business. In all my years of teaching, I've seen first-hand that there's no substitute for learning by getting your hands dirty.
And with all that said, I have a few recommended resources I'd love to share...
Next up, I have some recommended resources to help you get started learning HTML. Remember, to nail the fundamentals, at a minimum all you need is a computer with a web browser, some kind of decent plain text editor, someone to guide you along, and a few hours of your time.
On the topic of code editors, there are many available; some paid, most are free. And they're all basically the same, so it boils down to personal preference. You could try Adobe Brackets, Sublime, or my favourite at the moment, Atom.
Also, if you want to get your feet wet with HTML and CSS, I have a free full-length HTML and CSS tutorial, where you and I build a layout together from complete scratch. This tutorial will give you a strong sense of exactly what's involved. Check out HTML Tutorial – Learn HTML And CSS Tutorial EASY!
And finally, if you really want to dig into HTML and CSS, join me in my full-length online course, HTML5 & CSS3 Site Design. There, we go in-depth with HTML, CSS, and web design and get you feeling comfortable and confident in just a few hours.
I'd love to see you there!