Whenever people ask about my profession and I say, “I develop web applications”, I have to admit it’s an awesome feeling.

It’s awesome because you see this instant change in their face and demeanor from politely making small talk to genuine interest. Naturally, I’m pleased and say this not to brag, but because I’ve earned it. Paid a dear price for it.

Countless hours, weeks and months working late nights, obscene amounts of coffee, plus the very many times of sheer frustration where all I wanted to do was take the hammer to the computer. In many ways, I still pay this price because web development is ever changing and new things come along all the time.

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Not long ago, someone asked me what’s the best way to learn PHP. Well… for me, it was a 3-inch thick book that cost a pretty penny. Simply because there weren’t many choices then. Thankfully these days, it’s a whole lot easier to pick up and many times for free or at least, very affordable.


This is where I like to start people off. All courses are free. They use the read-learn-do method. You read and understand a short block of text, try your hand at it, save and instantly get feedback if you did it right or wrong. I love this method of learning. This is the way I personally learn technology best and suspect it is true for others too.

They offer a variety of courses all geared for beginners. If you are looking to someday be deeply immersed in WordPress, I’d suggest picking up HTML & CSS, Javascript, JQuery and PHP – in that order.


Dash teaches HTML, CSS and Javascript. The “Holy Grail” of web development. It appears to be completely free. All you need is to sign up for a free account.

Code School

If you are willing to spend $30 a month, Code School is among the best. It appears to me that their courses are a more in depth too compared to Codeacademy which should be no surprise.

They do not offer PHP (yet), but they do offer courses for HTML/CSS and Javascript. These are the cornerstones of web development. HTML and CSS are so key – even for a casual blogger. You can never go wrong with that.


Very similar to Code School although they offer a course or two different such as Android and WordPress development. At $25 a month, Treehouse is not free and I could not locate any free introductory courses. They too use the familiar watch-learn-do and challenge method.

Other Resources

There are certainly no shortages of places to learn from. There are some short classes on Javascript (geared toward gaming) for free at Khan Academy. Meanwhile, over at Udemy, there are plenty of free introductory courses on HTML & CSS, Javscript, HTML5, PHP, MySQL and more.

The only down side to these two – they don’t offer you instant feedback. The ability to try your hand at writing some code and testing it is to me an important feature for learning code. Nevertheless, these are still very helpful. With some perseverance, you should be creating something – or be able to work on your own websites very quickly.