There’s never been a better time to start learning HTML. If you’re interested in a career in web design or web development—or if you just want to know how to make great web pages—a basic knowledge of HTML is a must. HTML really has no competition as a coding language and is accepted as the industry standard.
Fortunately, the basics of HTML are actually pretty easy for the average learner to grasp. You can start picking up HTML in a matter of hours. It should take you one to two weeks to get the full gist of HTML, and about a month of practice to get comfortable with the language. The key is to apply your learning by working on projects.
This article takes a brief look at the history of HTML, why it remains so relevant today, and how you can build up a workable knowledge of HTML quickly and in a manner that suits your lifestyle. So let’s dive in.
A Brief Introduction to HTML
HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the standardized language used to construct documents that can then be displayed as web pages. Web browsers use HTML to create and interpret images, animations, texts, and other components into a fully functional experience. The characteristics of each element are defined by HTML, and they can be further tweaked and even enhanced.
HTML was created by physicist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, who started work on creating the HTML scripts and wrote the software for browsers and web servers in late 1990. The following year, it was made publicly available in the form of a descriptive document called HTML Tags.
Today, HTML is used in conjunction with another language called CSS that can be further used to enhance the basic elements created using HTML code. For example, when you create a footer for the page using HTML, you use CSS to italicize the footer text, add effects, or make the text bold. So CSS’s main function is to further describe the characteristics of the structures designed using HTML. Most web developers are adept at using both languages to create stunning webpages for their clients.
Why Should I Invest Time in Learning HTML?
Many web developers and designers are now making use of simpler drag-and-drop web building platforms and ready-made templates. You might be questioning whether it’s even worth the time and effort to learn HTML, as the skill could become redundant in a few years. But there are a few reasons why that’s not going to happen.
First of all, templates and pre-fabricated websites offer a limited selection to choose from that may not always match your client’s vision for a website. There’s little room for creativity when you’re dragging and dropping pre-selected elements onto a web page, which is one of the limitations of using these platforms. If a client requires a higher level of customization, and you try to rely on one of these platforms, you could end up falling short.
One of the best reasons to master HTML is that your creativity won’t be limited to someone else’s web design tools. You’ll be able to craft and troubleshoot your own development work, with the peace of mind of knowing you have complete autonomy. Having proficiency in HTML, alongside your other web development knowledge, means you can use your creativity to develop innovative solutions for your clients that will surpass the limited offerings of cookie-cutter platforms.
What’s the Best Way to Learn HTML?
There are many different learning paths you can choose for learning HTML, and the cost and time involved can vary greatly. Before you decide, spend some time identifying your goals and how this might impact your choice. If you’re just starting out in your career and your aim is to eventually go into business as a web developer—a traditional education like a bachelor’s or master’s degree might be on the cards. If you’re already established in your career and looking to upskill in this area—an online course could get you where you want to be quickly, and with less expense. Are you undecided and just looking for new avenues to explore? Perhaps you could pursue the self-learning route for now.
Once you’ve narrowed down which goal best describes your situation, you’ll be in a better position to decide how you’ll go about learning HTML. This will also help you determine how you'll pace your learning.
How Hard is it to Learn HTML?
If you have some coding experience, you’ll probably find it fairly simple to pick up the basics. The challenge that lies ahead will really depend on a few different factors, such as:
- your existing knowledge;
- the practice regime you follow;
- your drive and self-discipline; and
- your intellectual curiosity.
In order to build familiarity, you’ll have to be disciplined about the learning process. Most people with basic computer skills tend to make very good progress in one to two months. Once you get to concepts like defining clickable regions within images and creating flowing text around graphics, that’s when some may start to struggle and can become a little discouraged. The more complex topics can be challenging, but the payoffs are worth it because these skills are highly sought after.
How Do I Go from HTML Novice to Expert?
A really practical way of jumping ahead in your learning is to start on a small project of your own. This will present challenges that you weren’t aware of while consuming theoretical knowledge and doing prescribed practice exercises. There will be times when things might get tough and you may feel discouraged, but if you keep pushing, you’ll eventually gain more confidence in applying your knowledge. Around the two month milestone, you'll have built up more confidence in your abilities to develop a quality site.
Thankfully, HTML isn’t that difficult to absorb. In fact, most of the basics can be covered in an afternoon. It’s a straightforward coding language that follows a fairly easy to understand set of principles. Once you’ve spent a little time learning it, you'll soon find that HTML concepts aren’t too complex or technical.
Can I Teach Myself HTML?
It’s a great time for autonomous learning, thanks to the internet and the wealth of online options available. There’s a vast repository of free resources, books, courses, videos, and tutorials—all of which can help you bolster your knowledge. Self-study may be all you need to pick up HTML. But if you’re like most people, you’ll find it pretty challenging to impose self-discipline when it comes to charting out a study plan.
Enrolling in an online course is a great option, as the material is more structured than going it alone. You’ll still need a bit of self-discipline to keep up with the course work, but most online courses now offer the added benefit of allowing you to progress at your own pace, so you don’t risk getting left behind.
After you’ve built up your foundational skills, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement and refinement. You’ll be able to narrow down what needs to be revised and which further topics need to be covered and perfected to solve problems you may be encountering in your practice. This is when the free resources available can be used more effectively, as you're further down the road of learning HTML and will be able to choose your focus areas and plan study sessions better.
Learn HTML with Thinkful
You’ll take on comprehensive, hands-on exercises facilitated by expert instructors, with at least 50% of the course hours reserved for practical challenges that resemble those you’ll find on the job. This ensures you’re confident applying your new skills and helps boost your knowledge retention. The courses’ self-directed schedules allow you the flexibility to complete your training in the timeframe that works for you.
If you’re ready to get started, let's chat about your options.