Semester 1: Learning Web Development

My first experience with web development was a bit of a crash course for me. The extent of my coding knowledge came from formatting my Piczo website in the mid-2000s (if you don’t know what that is, count yourself very, very lucky) – and then I was given a client which required me to handle the ongoing maintenance, and create pages for about 7 websites on a monthly basis. Managing the websites required me to understand HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. At this point, I really only knew how to style a paragraph, and make text bold and italicised, but only using the <b> and <i>  tags, so to say I was behind the times is an understatement!

I did a lot of reading, looking through other website pages to get an idea for how the website was built, and even started playing an iPhone game that taught you how to code as you played it. It was interesting, and the more I learned the more I realised I wanted to learn more. I started with an online introduction to HTML course, thinking I could learn coding part time – but the more I learned, the more I realised this was actually what I wanted to do, and I wanted to learn it full time.

Diving in and learning this was much harder than I thought it would be. I imagined it would be difficult, learning something that I previously had no experience in, but one of the hardest parts for me was having a background in websites but from the opposite end of the spectrum. I understood a lot of the strategy and thought that goes into designing and creating a website (not actually building it) – so I spent a lot of time as we learned the basics being really confused, and not understanding how certain things would ever be used.

During our Week 8 of last semester – our week of workshops and activities – I was able to see it all in action. My team built a simple e-commerce web page and implemented a lot of what we had been learning in our JavaScript course into building something that looked like it would exist on an actual website.

 

At that point I was able to really understand how these basics can be applied to an actual website. After that we moved into building things that didn’t just stand alone – for example, rather than create a JavaScript function on a basic HTML page with lorem ipsum, we created an entire restaurant website. This helped me make more sense of what I had been learning.

I didn’t expect that to be a drawback in my learning, but I do think it makes me a better developer. I have to be able to see the big picture, to understand why I am doing something, otherwise I struggle with it. This helps me prioritise what needs to be done, and helps me see how everything fits together, to make a more cohesive user experience in a final product.