May 09, 2012
Table of contents:
It is no great secret that much of the Western world is gripped by widespread recession and financial uncertainty. Previous thriving industries are struggling and people are getting laid off or unable to find jobs every day. This is is stark contrast however to the thriving industry of web design, development and online business. Whilst candidates in other industries are competing with hundreds of other applicants for scarce jobs, companies in this industry are crying out to find talent to fill their roles.
With this in mind, I decided to pull together all the resources I could think of for learning the skills needed to get a job in the online industry. So if you are thinking about learning some new skills, switching jobs or improving your chances of your dream job, I highly suggest you take a look at the following websites.
Whilst there are many opportunities in the industry for talented, hard working people, first you need to get the skills required to do the job. One of the great things about the web industry is you can choose to specialise in a certain area. For example, you might want to only do Front End Development, or Back End Development, or Design, or User Experience.
However, even if you already know what you want to specialise in, first you need to get the basics down. I believe everyone that is involved in the web industry should have at least a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. These two easy-to-learn markup languages will allow you to build websites and learn how a website works at the most basic level. The majority of web type jobs I see ask for knowledge of these areas, so even if you only want to do marketing, it’s a good idea to start learning now. Here are two websites I would recommend for getting started with learning how to make websites.
Treehouse is a monthly subscription service that starts at $25 a month. I’ve been a member since Treehouse launched last year and I regularly spend a couple of hours every so often learning new stuff or brushing up on stuff I learnt years ago (here’s my profile). The web is an incredibly fast moving industry and so a subscription to Treehouse will ensure you keep up-to-date with the latest technologies and skills.
Much like Treehouse, Codeacademy is a fantastic resource for learning programming websites. Codeacademy is free so there really isn’t an excuse for not finding the time to use it.
When I first started getting in to web design and development, the best way of learning skills and techniques was through a selective range of blogs and tutorial sites. Fortunately there are even more fantastic tutorial websites that cover everything from illustration to programming. Just by subscribing to a handful of these websites, you can be well on the way to learning new skills.
Here are some of the websites I still follow today in order to keep up with the latest techniques from a range of different areas.
Envato isn’t a tutorial website, it’s a tutorial monster! Envato is a collection of free and premium tutorial websites that will teach you graphic design, web development, audio production, iPhone development and motion graphics. If you already know that you want to specialise in one particular area, you will find that each of Envato’s blogs are regularly updated with really high quality content. But if you are like me, Envato is a one-stop-shop for keeping up-to-date with a number of areas and it’s a good way to cherry pick new skills and techniques.
Envato also has a premium service (Tuts+ Premium) that offers more in depth tutorials and courses for learning the essential skills that employers are looking for. Currently I’m not a member of this network, but I’ve been a follower of Envato for a while now and I can say that the quality of the premium material is really high. I would definitely consider becoming a member of the premium content in the future, and if you really want to supercharge your learning, I’d highly recommend you do that too.
Chris Spooner is the man behind both Spoon Graphics and Line 25, two of the best tutorial websites online today. Chris teaches a mixture of front and back-end material, usually focusing on illustration, graphic design and WordPress development. Chris was previously a freelance web designer, but due to the success of his two blogs, he is now a full time blogger.
I would recommend subscribing to both of Chris’ blogs as it offers a good mix of techniques and solid advice for creating awesome websites.
Smashing Magazine is an online publication that focuses on web design and development techniques, skills and best practices. Smashing Magazine is a behemoth of a website and has regular contributions from some of the industries leading figures. Smashing Magazine covers a huge range of topics and is a fantastic resource for keeping up to date and getting inspiration for using the latest new methods.
The web industry is one of the unique industries where people come together to help each other out. There doesn’t seem to be the notion of a finite marketplace or the fear of not sharing stuff with potential competitors that blights the innovation of other sectors. In fact, the community aspect of the web can be one the best ways of learning new skills, getting inspiration or finding new opportunities. Dribbble and Forrst are two of the best design and development community websites online.
Dribbble is a design community that allows you to submit 400 x 300 “shots” of your latest work. The exclusive nature (invite only) and extremely high quality work of members from all over the world has made Dribbble into one of the best websites for finding the hottest design talent. Dribbble has been the place where many of the best unknown designers have been recognised for their ability. Dribbble have subsequently capitalised on this and have opened their own job board and tools to allow companies to find a designer that meets their requirements and level of skill.
Dribbble is a a great way to get exposure for your design work, get help and advice from other designers and get inspiration on the latest trends and techniques. Dribbble is an invite only community, but I’ve got the hook up for you. If you want to get a Dribbble invite, tweet a link to this post and mention @culttt and @philipbrown.
Forrst is a similar community site to Dribbble but also covers development as well as design. Forrst is a fantastic community for getting feedback on your design or code and can be a great resource if you need help with a project. If you are looking for expert help or advice, you should definitely sign up for Forrst.
When you are working on something very specific and you come across a problem, it’s often difficult to find someone with the knowledge and experience to help you. Fortunately, if you’re having a problem, you’re almost guaranteed to find that someone else has already had the same problem and found a solution online.
Once you start getting into the real nitty gritty of a subject, you will be looking for answers to some very specific questions. StackExchange is a community of question and answer communities that aims to solve this problem. StackExchange currently has 87 websites with over 7.5 million answers to over 3.7 million questions. I can really testify that StackExchange is an incredible resource because for just about every technical type question I google, StackOverflow always seems to come up with the answer and an expert explanation from a community memeber so you really understand how it works.
If you find yourself getting stuck often, try searching StackExchange and StackOverflow for an answer. Then perhaps one day when you become an expert too, you can start answering other people’s questions to repay back what you learnt.
Whilst not really specifically about answering coding problems, I’ve found Quora to be a goldmine for tapping into the wisdom of experts from a variety of industries. Quora is packed with insightful questions and answers on a variety of topics, and usually the most voted for answer is from an expert in that field. For instance, I’ve seen some fantastic answers from people who talk about scalling web applications, what it takes to build a successful iOS app and the positives and negatives of choosing one technology over an other. If you don’t have access to this kind of specific advice from people you know in real life, Quora can be a huge resource for collecting valuable knowledge.
Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing are two fast growing sub-industries of the web. Not everyone wants to design or code, but with online marketing, you still the opportunity to pursue a career on the Internet. As I mentioned above, I think it is extremely important for SEO and Online Marketing people to have an understanding of HTML, CSS and design in order to get the best opportunities and to make yourself even more appealing to prospective companies. Here are 4 websites to learn more about SEO and Online Marketing.
SEOMoz create the leading online Search Engine Optimisation software that allows you to monitor and improve websites and increase inbound marketing. At $99 dollars a month, you probably aren’t looking to become a paying subscriber just yet, but you should subscribe to their blog as it contains regular up-to-date advice for SEO and Marketing best practices, help and advice.
Like SEOMoz, Hubspot is a provider of Marketing software that aims to allow you to get the most out of your Marketing efforts. Again, if you’re starting out, you probably don’t want to be spending a lot of money on software that is really aimed at businesses, but you can get a huge amount of value and knowledge just by following their blog. Hubspot’s blog regularly posts about the latest trends and opportunities and ideas for online marketing campaigns.
Joost de Valk is the man behind Yoast, one of the leading providers of WordPress and SEO related software and plugins. If you decide to create a blog or a content managed website, there’s a good possibility that WordPress will be the right CMS for you. Joost makes (in my opinion) the best SEO plugin for WordPress that allows you to ensure that your website is fully optimised for Search Engine listing.
Viperchill is blog that contains lots of really in-depth articles about online and affiliate marketing. There is a lot of money to be made and an enviable lifestyle if you choose to put the time and effort into becoming a professional online or affiliate marketer like ViperChill owner Glenn. Even if you don’t see yourself going down that path, ViperChill has a lot of really good advice for just about any website owner.
When you are doing a creative job for 40 hours a week, it can sometimes be difficult to find the spark of inspiration, especially if you’ve been working on a project for a while. The web is going through a renaissance of design and the new possibilities of faster Internet connections, CSS3 and the revolution of iOS design means that it has never been a better time to see online design work at it’s best. There are many websites that are dedicated to online design, but here are three of my favourite.
Abduzeedo is an online design blog that covers everything from Architecture to Web Design. Abduzeedo has grown over the last couple of years to a hugely popular regular design source of inspiration and a collection of some of the best design work from all over the world. I particularly like their Daily Inspiration posts as they contain a bit of every type of design.
Creattica is another online design website that covers many different spectrum’s of design from logo, to illustration and photography. Creattica tends to have individual posts rather than the mammoth posts of Abduzeedo, but it is definitely worth having in your RSS reader for some daily inspiration goodness.
And finally, Best Web Gallery is obviously a web design gallery of the latest and hottest web designs from around the web. Again this is a fantastic addition to your RSS reader to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and to see some design that really pushes the boundaries of what has been done before.
A lot happens on a daily basis in the online industry, and like I’ve said before, having a good knowledge of what is happening and the latest breaking news can really show your passion for the job. As someone who is trying to carve out a career online, you should take responsibility for knowing what are the latest trends, the hottest new service and what is the new iPhone app that everyone is talking about. Having a solid knowledge of what’s going on, whilst not directly, will have a big impact on your future success. Here’s how to stay up to date with our industry’s news.
TechCrunch can often be very focused on the “who’s raising money” angle, rather than the “who’s is doing well” angle but it is still probably the number one spot for tech world “gossip” and news. Many of the biggest web and tech news stories are broken on TechCrunch first, and so it’s usually a good thing to have in your RSS reader.
Mashable is a similar news site to TechCrunch, but they post a lot more posts that cover what is hot on the web right now. For example, you’ll often see “Top 10…” or “How to use the latest hot service” type posts. Again not everything on Mashable is really going to be useful, but it is good for having a skim through to see if anything takes your interest.
Again The Next Web cover a lot of breaking news, editorials and interviews with a wide selection of people from the web industry. Whilst you probably might not be interested in all of the content, TNW particularly often have good articles and insights into the world of tech.
There are actually a lot more tech news sites that I should mention, but if I wrote a bit about each we would be here all day. So in no particular order… GigaOm, TechMeme and All Things D are also worth checking out.
And finally, once you’ve started on the road to learning all these new skills, you’ll want to find yourself that dream job. Many of the websites above feature jobs boards or recruiting sections because there are so many companies looking for new talent. But here are two web job specific websites for you to check out.
Authentic Jobs lists openings at Apple, Skype and Facebook to name just a few.
Your Web Job lists openings for web professionals, project managers, copywriters, SEO experts, usability folk, designers and developers.
The Internet is a huge opportunity from anyone from any walk of life to re-engineer their career and future to the one they dream of. You can choose between working for massive international organisations that have millions of users and customers, or you can start your own company and build something that is loved all over the world. The world of freelancing offers you the opportunity to work from anywhere and with anyone on exciting projects and meet like minded people who share your passion outside of the usual geographical confines.
What resources have you found really helpful for getting started in a career on the web?