Whether you’re interested in building your own websites, or pursuing a career as a web developer, having knowledge of HTML is an essential skill.
Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, is one of the three core technologies that power almost every single website on the internet. HTML allows web designers and developers to define the structure of their website, and decide where certain elements like text or images should appear on a web page.
HTML is not just for technical people who are looking to learn web development. The language can be used in a wide variety of other contexts. For instance, many drag-and-drop web design platforms give their users the ability to use HTML if you want more freedom to customize your page.
This guide will discuss the best way to learn HTML online and give you a clear set of next steps that you can use to help you start your journey to learning the HTML programming language.
What Is HTML?
HTML is the programming language used to define the structure of a website, or how everything such as text, images, and links should appear on a web page. While technologies like CSS allow you to style a web page, HTML is focused on building the blueprint for how a page should appear on a website.
HTML uses tags to create the structure for a website. These tags, which are built into the language, allow you to create headers, videos, images, and other elements that will appear on a web page. Here are a few examples of HTML tags that you may encounter:
- <p> allows you to create a paragraph of text.
- <h1> allows you to create a large heading.
- <iframe> allows you to embed the contents of another website, like a YouTube video, onto a web page.
Most tags have a starting tag (like “<p>”), and an ending tag (like “</p>”). Once you’ve mastered these tags, there is no limit to how complex the structure of your websites can be.
Why Should You Learn HTML?
There is no shortage of reasons why HTML is a valuable skill to learn. For one thing, if you are looking to become a web developer, having a basic knowledge of HTML is almost essential. In addition, if you want to focus on designing web pages, then knowing how to code in HTML is a must-have skill.
But learning HTML is not just a good idea if you want to pursue a career in tech. There are other reasons why you may want to learn the language.
HTML, unlike some other programming languages, is incredibly simple to start learning. The language uses a tag-based syntax which is easy for beginners to learn. In fact, HTML is often the first language new coders learn, because of the language’s simple syntax. In addition, learning HTML could help you command a raise because the skill is in high demand in the modern labor market.
Now we’ve discussed the reasons why you should learn HTML, it’s time to explore how you can start on your journey to learning HTML free.
How to Learn HTML Fast
How do you learn to code in HTML? This is a question all beginners face at some point, and even if you already know how to code, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Let’s explore a few of the steps you should follow to help you start your journey to learning HTML efficiently and effectively.
Step 1: Start with the Basics
When you’re learning how to code, it can be tempting to delve deep into complex topics as soon as possible, so that you can build more powerful applications early on. But, this is a mistake and one made by many beginner programmers.
The best thing you can do when starting to learn HTML is to master the basic HTML tags and familiarize yourself with the building blocks that make up the language. Then, when you feel ready, you can pursue more complex technical concepts with confidence. To help you start off on the right foot, here is a list of the main topics you should focus on:
HTML Structure and Tags
The first thing you should learn about HTML documents is the structure of web pages and how web pages are created. This will give you a clear indication of how a web page comes together, which is an insight you’ll need to have for every website you build.
Then, once you’ve learned the structure of a web page, you can go on to explore basic tags such as headings, <div> tags, lists, and text. These tags are used to add features onto a web page. Here are the main topics you should learn when it comes to HTML structure:
- How is a web page structured?
- HTML Headings (<h1>, <h2>… <h6>)
- The <div> tag
- Presenting text using <p> and <span>
- Styling text
- Ordered and unordered lists (<ol> and <ul>)
- Images (<img>)
- Videos (<iframe>, <video>)
Often, when you’re designing a website, you will want to display a table of data. For instance, if you’re building a website for a school, you may want to display the school’s schedule on the website, or the dinner menu. To present this data, you’ll need to use a table.
HTML offers a number of tags that you can use to create custom tables, which are an essential part of many modern websites. Here are the main topics you should learn about:
- Creating a table
- Table rows and table headings
- Table data
- Table borders
- Spanning columns and rows
- Table head, body, and footer
Forms are another common feature on many websites that allow sites to collect information from their users.
For instance, a website may have a “contact us” form that allows users to submit a comment to the site, or a site may have a “newsletter” form that collects a visitor’s email address and signs them up to the site’s mailing list.
HTML forms can include drop-down menus, single-line text boxes, large text boxes, checkboxes, and other types of form fields. Here are the main topics you should learn about when you’re starting to learn HTML forms:
- How an HTML form works
- Text input and labels
- Password and number input
- Checkboxes and radio buttons
- Drop-down list
- Textarea input
- How to submit a form
Adding Styles to an HTML Page
So far, we’ve talked about how to use HTML to develop the structure of a web page. But if you want to add custom styles to a web page, you need to use another technology: Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS.
CSS allows you to apply styles to HTML elements on a web page. These styles determine how those elements appear in the user’s web browser. For instance, you can change the color of a line of text using CSS, or apply a border to a table. Once you’ve learned how to create the structure of a web page, you can start to explore how to apply styles to the tags you have learned about.
Here are a few of the main topics you should learn:
- What is CSS?
- Inline CSS
- Internal vs. external CSS
- How to write a CSS style rule
Then, once you’ve learned these topics, you can explore element-specific CSS styles, like how to style a table, or how to style a heading.
Where to Learn HTML
In this guide, we have discussed the basic topics that you need to know in order to code in HTML. But now you’ll be wondering “where can I learn about these topics?”
Everyone has their own learning style—some people prefer online courses, whereas others prefer to follow interactive tutorials—and so there is no one place you should go to look for support as you start learning how to code.
However, for most people, interactive courses or tutorials are a good option for learning HTML. This is because these courses and tutorials give you an immersive look at programming in HTML, where you can learn not just the theory, but actually put your skills into practice. At the end of following a tutorial, for example, you should have a tangible project that you can show off to others.
If you’re looking for a few online resources to help you get started, here are a few we recommend for beginners to HTML:
- Career Karma’s Introduction to HTML series
- Codecademy’s Introduction to HTML course
- Dash by General Assembly
- Treehouse’s online HTML course
- freeCodeCamp’s HTML tutorial
These resources range from short tutorials to full courses and cover all the essential topics you’ll need to master to learn how to code in HTML. After you’ve learned the basics, you’ll be ready to start working on your own projects.
Step 2: Build a Project
Building a project is a great way to reinforce the skills you have learned and put them into practice. After you’ve done all the essential reading on how a website is built—and after you have followed a few tutorials where you have built websites from a template—you’ll want to start working on a project that interests you.
The first step to building a project is to ask yourself: What should I build? There really is no wrong answer to this question. One framework you can use to help you decide what to build is to ask about the problems you face in your day-to-day life, then try to think of how you can create a solution to the problem using code. Do you always forget something when you go to the stores? You could build a shopping list app.
Whatever project you choose, you should make sure it’s something that you want to work on. After all, it is your project!
Here are a few ideas to help you get started thinking about what you could build:
- A portfolio with your web development projects
- A site to share U.S. political campaign donation lists
- A portfolio site for a photographer
- A website for a local coffee shop or museum
- A reference site for your favorite card game
These are only a few of the many project ideas you could build—the only limit to what you can create is your own imagination. That’s the beautiful thing about learning to code: When you master the basics, you can build anything! The same rules that are used to build simple websites are also those used to build more complex websites, too.
Step 3: Join a Developer Community
Behind every website is a web developer—or a team of web developers, or even a company of web developers—who have worked tirelessly to create the site. If you think about how many websites are out there, then you can start to get an idea of just how many talented web developers there are in the web development community.
When you’re getting started on your journey to learning to code in HTML, joining a web developer community is a great idea. Developer communities bring together developers of all backgrounds—from beginners to experts—with whom you can talk, share ideas, and collaborate on projects together.
Whenever you have a question about a project or a bug you need to fix, there’s always someone in the developer community who can help. All you need to do is sign up to a few communities and participate in the discussions that you find interesting.
Are you unsure where to start? Here are a few communities that are great for new web developers:
- Stack Overflow: A technical Q&A community. This site has no shortage of discussions about HTML which you could find helpful.
- GitHub: A site for storing and sharing your code. If you ever get stuck for inspiration, there are plenty of “beginners project lists” and actual examples you can view to help you find new ideas.
- Dev.to: A community for developers of all kinds. Dev.to has dedicated community areas for HTML and CSS which are great for all developers, from novices to experts.
Once you’ve joined a community or two, start contributing as soon as you can. Do you know the solution to someone’s problem? Write it down and share it. Do you need help? Ask a question on a platform like Stack Overflow, and engage with the other developers who have offered to help you.
Step 4: Ask for Feedback and Research Best Practices
Your first goal when learning HTML should be to master the basics, but once you’re ready for a challenge, you can start taking on more advanced projects.
One great way to develop your HTML skills is to research best practices, which are the conventions used by other developers when they write their code. Not every technical concept has a set of clear best practices, and it’s likely that you have already learned most of them in building your own projects. But either way, it can be useful to seek out knowledge on how the experts approach certain problems.
The best way to research best practices is to ask for feedback. Once you’ve finished a project, ask your friends to rate it and give you a few comments. If you don’t know any technical friends who can help, share your project in a community like Dev.to and ask for feedback. The advantage of asking for feedback is you can get tips on how to optimize your own code that is tailored to your project.
Step 5: Practice Makes Perfect
You’ll likely have heard this before, but it is worth repeating again—practice makes perfect.
When you’re learning how to code, it can be easy to find excuses to give up. Sometimes, a project does not go your way, and you’ll think that it is easier to just stop than to keep going. But, that’s a natural part of learning how to code—sometimes, things can be frustrating. If you try hard and keep going though, you’ll be able to refine your skills and get ahead.
Practicing HTML often will make it easy for you to keep going, because the more you practice, the better you’ll get. In addition, as you practice you’ll refine your ability to spot errors in your code and ways to optimize your code, which will help you write more efficient and clean code.
You can practice your skills by following online tutorials, taking a course, working on projects, or by working on code challenges like those on Codecademy and freeCodeCamp. Or, if you’re up for a real challenge, you could scroll through Stack Overflow and try to help other beginner developers solve the problems they are facing.
Learning how to code in HTML is a valuable use of your time in a world that is dominated by the internet. Whether you’re looking to become a web developer, whether you work with websites and want to expand your skills, or whether you are already a programmer who is looking to learn something new, HTML is a great language to invest in learning.
Your first focus when learning HTML should be on structure, syntax, and using basic tags like <p> and <img>. Then, you can go on to explore tables, forms, connecting HTML and CSS, and other technical topics. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be ready to start working on your own projects!
Learning HTML gives you a new skill you can draw on for the rest of your life. And, if you’re interested, you can use your knowledge of HTML to help you break into your dream career in technology. If you follow the topics in this guide, you’ll be on a good track to learning HTML.