Web Development

50 Free Resources to Help You Complete Your Web Design Dreams

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If you were to become a web designer just 15 years ago, it would have been rather simple. All you had to do was learn a bit of HTML and CSS to create “breathtaking” web pages. Since then, web design has evolved into a field that encompasses interface design, user experience design, web graphic design, front-end development, back-end development, and even web administration and technical SEO.

As you can see, there are numerous jobs web design encompasses today. While it may seem intimidating for someone completely new, you shouldn’t worry. There are dozens of free resources online to help you achieve your web design dreams. Scroll down, look for a profession that interests you, and learn how to turn yourself into a professional from the comfort of your home.

User Interface Design

If you enjoy finding out the problems in user interface (UI), learning about their nature, and how to solve them, user interface designer is definitely a career you should pursue. Here is what awaits you online for free, should you decide to become a UI designer.

Getting familiar with UI design – We recommend you start by watching a free, one-hour video on YouTube, How to Become a UI Designer. In this webinar uploaded by CareerFoundry, you’ll be able to learn everything there is to know about kickstarting your career as a UI designer.

The creators of this webinar address the following topics:

  • The difference between UI and UX design
  • How to research users and design for them
  • What tools you should learn to use
  • The principles of UI to follow in the design process
  • Information on how to begin your UI design career

Learn how to use UI design software tools – As a UI designer, you’ll have to become proficient in specific software tools. To start, you should focus on one tool and only switch to learning another when you feel confident using the first one.

  • Adobe Illustrator – There are many free Illustrator tutorials online. We would suggest that you start with the official Adobe tutorials to learn the basic functionality of this software. If you are prefer video instructions there is a free Illustrator course that we recommend taking look at, Useful Tricks & Tips in Adobe Illustrator. You will learn how to create basic and advanced shapes, learn paths and imagery and text manipulation.
  • Sketch – If you haven’t heard about it before, Sketch is the most powerful design tool for Mac. Since it is a robust piece of software, you will have to learn how to navigate through it and use a plethora of built-in features. Fortunately there is an entire website devoted to helping the Sketch community for free, LearnSketch. On this website you will be able to watch dozens of Sketch video tutorials, get access to free collection of graphic resources and read tips and tricks on how to be more productive in Sketch.

Diving into the specifics of UI design – Once you are familiar with UI design for websites, you can visit Skillshare and get your free 30 day access to dozens of UI design courses. Since you will have a limited time free access, give your best to devote as much time as possible to learn things that interest you the most.

User Experience Design

User Experience (UX) design is different that UI design. Instead on focusing on how a website is presented, as a UX designer you will be focused on how to optimize the website to be more effective and enjoyable to use.

Getting familiar with UX design – You want to become an UX designer? Great, then you should definitely watch this incredible and free “What is UX design? Defining User Experience Design & Explaining the Process” video. Over the course of 35 minutes you will learn how to design incredible and effective landing pages, what internet surfers’ pain points are and how to address them through the UX design.

UX Design Free Courses – There are plenty of different free UX design courses out there, and we have chosen two highly popular options. User Experience Design by Julia Debari is a great free course to help you learn the processes and tools that you will need as a UX designer. The course consists of 62 hours of video lectures, and is designed to help people without a previous background in this field.  The other free course, UX Fundamentals, will help you wrap your head around the best user-centered design principles, so that you can improve website design. We would recommend this course to anyone who is involved in web design.

UX Tools for Designers – As a UX designer, you will have to learn how to use tools for user testing, interaction design and team collaboration, prototyping and wireframing. As you might have guesses, UX design tools are not cheap, but on the other hand, there are numerous free resources that can help you learn how to use them:

  • Mockplus is a prototyping/wireframing tool that serves as a bridge between UX designers, website developers and project managers. The Mockplus tutorial is free and accessible to anyone via their official website.
  • Visio is a useful UX tool designed to help you communicate data-driven information in just a few clicks. You can learn to use Visio by visiting the official Microsoft help page or their official YouTube channel. The alternative is SmartDraw, which comes with hundreds of templates you can use to create diagrams and flowcharts. Free SmartDraw training is available on their official website.
  • Optimizely is a UX tool for A/B testing. You should definitely learn to use this tool, as it will help you to personalize the website for its particular users. Optimizely has a free online Academy full of courses and other learning materials that you’ll find really useful.

Graphic Design

The entire online world is showcased online via visual elements created by graphic designers. If you want to embody the ideas of UI and UX designers, graphic design is definitely your future call.

Learning the basics – Graphic design has an aspect that comes before creativity, but its is quite easy to overcome. Thanks to the series of articles on CreativeBlog you can learn all the basics of modern graphic design and easily transfer the knowledge into web design. These articles cover many aspects of graphic design, starting with key terminology and typography all the way to web page layout design and infographic design.

Graphic Design Courses – You have a variety of options when it comes to learning specifics about web graphic design online. Introduction to Graphic Design is the best online course when it comes to building a healthy foundation of knowledge about graphic design. The teacher gives his best to try and explain the principles of graphic design that go beyond of using software. After you are done, you will be ready to jump into learning to use the best tool for web graphic designers.

Learning to use the Photoshop – Before you jump into the specifics, we recommend that you get used to the basics of Photoshop and its features and functionality. Adobe has a great “Get Started with Photoshop” tutorial. You will learn how to use menu, tools and specific features. Once you are done with it, you can jump into the free “Photoshop for Web Design Beginners” course. This course covers some Photoshop fundamentals and it ends with a lecture on how to use grids to create the perfect webpage.

Learning Tips and Tricks – If you want to become a web design wizard, you don’t have to rediscover things that have already been discovered and are being used by your colleagues. This is why we strongly recommend that you read Photoshop Tricks for Web Designers. Additionally, you may take a look at the tips and tricks than can help you make more attractive elements for websites.

Front End Development

Front end is a career reserved for those who want to learn more about the technical side of web design. If you want to learn how to build websites from scratch, you need to master HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript. Don’t worry, there is an abundance of free online resources to help you go from zero to front end web developer hero.

Learning to code HTML – If you want to build a website, you will have to start by learning HTML. There is a great text HTML5 tutorial that covers everything you need to know about HTML in depth. It includes examples and explanations for each line of code used in the lesson example. If you prefer video learning material, there is a great “HTML5 Tutorial For Beginners” tutorial on YouTube, which is divided into 6 lessons. Once you are done with either one, you will be able to create your first website pages.

Learning to code CSS – Each element that you have coded in HTML can be changed by adding specific attributes to it. This is exactly what CSS does. Here is a free text tutorial to help you learn CSS from basic to advanced level. In another great tutorial, the “CSS Crash Course For Absolute Beginners”, you will be able to learn about how to use styles, selectors and declarations to create amazing website layouts.

Learning to code JavaScript – Learning JavaScript is really fun, especially if you already know HTML and CSS. With JavaScript you can change the website content however you like. You can change CSS and HTML on the go and make really interactive websites. This free tutorial covers both basic and advanced JavaScript and, more importantly, it comes with examples. If you would like to see it in action and learn directly from a JavaScript developer, we recommend the “JavaScript Tutorial for Beginner Complete Course 2017” video on YouTube.

Practice Coding While Building Website Projects – Now that you are familiar with basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript you are ready to practice your skills while developing your first dynamic and beautiful websites. You can follow this series of videos to learn how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build websites.

Back End Development

Back end involves programming on the server side. Instead on focusing on what the website looks like, your primary concern will be how the website works. You will be writing code that helps the website and web applications communicate with the database. Pick and learn any of the following and you’ll get there.

Java

Here is a great resource to begin to grasp the Java technology landscape. The most important thing is that you will need to learn front end development, at least the basics. And this applies to everyone who wants to start with back end development, regardless of which programming language they choose.

Fortunately, Java is old and there are many resources to learn from. Go through the Java Basics and then go and take a look at Java Server Pages and Servlet Basics free course. If you want to learn the Java Spring framework for web development, we recommend the Spring Framework and Dependency Injection free course.

Java Spring is definitely the most complete framework. Here is another great free course on it, just make sure to scroll way down to enroll in it.

PHP

PHP is a very powerful programming language very commonly found in the back end of most websites online. If you don’t have previous experience with PHP, you should get familiar with its syntax – here is great tutorial to introduce you to PHP.

Once you are familiar with PHP, you can watch this playlist on YouTube. To extend your knowledge and learn how to create dynamic websites with PHP you should enroll into a free Practical PHP: Master the Basics and Code Dynamic Websites course.

Ruby on Rails

If you are into new frameworks and technologies, Ruby on Rails will definitely quench your thirst. Even if you have no previous experience, you can take a leap of faith and dive straight into the Learn Ruby on Rails from Scratch free course.

After you are done, here is an excellent Ruby on Rails free book you can study and practice so that you can develop astonishing web solutions as a back end developer. After you get familiar with Ruby on Rails, you can always go and take a look at official docs to learn, develop and stay tuned to the latest RoR updates as a developer.

Python

If you are new to Python, Full Stack Python can get you started really fast. At the end of each article you will be offered 3 links to new ones, depending on what you want to do and the self-assesed level of your web development knowledge.

Codecademy has an excellent course on Python, but if you ask any Python developer for help, they will definitely point you to official docs. You can find everything you will ever need in them.

.NET

Microsoft has really made it easy for developers to learn the .NET framework. If you are new to this framework a good start would be to visit the ASP.NET website and start learning .NET from their tutorial. Since you will be writing your code in C#, you can extend your knowledge by creating a website while going through the free ASP.NET video course.

Web Administrator

As a web administrator, you will be in charge of servers and other hardware. Also you will have to maintain website security, troubleshoot websites for problems and monitor all systems. Data recovery and backup responsibilities will be also in your domain. This career requires a lot of skill and knowledge.

Learning about web administration

If you would like to be responsible for all the things we have mentioned above, here is a great video that will help you to get a good basic idea of what web administration entails. Basically, you will have to understand how the Internet works inside out, along with the basics of website development.

If you want to refresh your knowledge on Web Services (SOAP, WSDL, REST) here is a free resource. Managing multiple servers can be a daunting task. This free book can make a life a lot easier for you.

Diving into the specifics

Since there is a lot of ground to cover, becoming a web administrator by learning from free resources can take some time and the results might not be as good. This is mainly because free online materials only go so far to cover the basics.

Windows Server 2012 Administration for Beginners is a great course to get you started. If you prefer Linux and UNIX servers here is a list of free books on Linux Server Administration.

SQL Server Administration – Since you are going to be responsible for the data, you will have to learn DML Statements and SQL Server Administration. This course also covers different levels of security when you are using a SQL Server. Additionally, you will learn how to backup your files in different ways and how to restore them in case you get hacked or some other error occurs.

Network SecurityFundamentals of network security is a great free course to get you started on passive and active attacks, asymmetric and symmetric key systems, firewalls, authentication, and other aspects of network security.

Mail Server – Since setting up a mail server properly is very important, you will have to learn how to do it as soon as possible. There are numerous mail servers out there and Postfix is commonly used on Linux powered machines. Here is a complete guide on how to do it. It covers steps ranging from installation and creating mail users to setting up permissions and configuring it.

Apache Server – Being the most widely used web server software, Apache definitely deserves your attention as a future Web Administrator. Want a quick introductory tutorial? Guru99 has extensive Complete Apache tutorial for beginners. You will learn how to install it and run it, as well as how to configure it and make it secure.

Technical SEO

There is a huge market for web developers and designers who know how to build SEO-friendly websites. SEO is a huge thing now and there are many businesses looking for SEO web designers who can help them redesign or build SEO-friendly sites from scratch.

Introduction to SEO

It may be hard to believe, but all you will need to understand SEO is one article. Neil Patel’s “SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide” will help you start your journey of becoming an SEO hero.

If you want to double-check things so that you don’t miss anything, take a look at this free guide on Search Engine Land. You also have to familiarize yourself with the basics of technical SEO. Here is Quicksprout’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO” article that explains it in depth.

Responsive Web Development

The website you are working on has to be mobile-friendly. Here is a tutorial to help you understand the concept of responsive web design. If you already know HTML and CSS this ride will be pretty smooth for you. Additionally, make sure to take a look at these 10 tutorials on how to make a website responsive. If you learn Bootstrap, you will be able to use predefined CSS classes and make beautiful responsive websites.

Website Structure

Good web structure guarantees a better position in the SERPS. If you want to learn how to do it, make sure to read the “How to Create a Site Structure That Will Enhance SEO” article.

As you can see, the internet has become a digital classroom for anyone who is willing to learn and advance. We hope that you have found what you need and that it will help you pursue the career you’ve always wanted. With all the options we have shared with you, we’re sure that you’ll find plenty of resources to jumpstart your web design career.

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