HTML and CSS aren’t especially difficult to learn. Indeed, you could pick up the basics in an afternoon. The tricky part, of course, comes when you want to truly master them. As the building blocks of the web, HTML and CSS are deceptively simple; deftly hiding their complexity and depth behind simple syntax and easy-to-remember rules. What takes a mere couple of hours to learn takes years of patient study and practice to master. Of course, the fact that the technology is always changing and becoming more complex only adds to the challenge.
It is perhaps because of this deceptive simplicity that so many are intimidated by learning the basic building blocks of the web. Indeed, there are countless resources available out there for beginners to learn, but they vary wildly in quality, which can making selecting a good place to start extremely difficult. My current default recommendation is the excellent book, HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites. I think this is an excellent volume that both eases people into web design, but also offers enough depth to set them on the path of mastery.
Of course, this book isn’t for everyone, so I’m always on the lookout for something that takes a different approach to the subject matter without over-complicating things, or dumbing them down too much. I think I’ve found just that in an interesting book called Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress. As the title states, much of the content in the book is done as a graphic novel, although there are also sections of plain text and code snippets interspersed to directly address some of the more technical aspect of front-end development.
I really like the way the comic weaves a story into the education. It makes the subject instantly more approachable and – for many – more interesting. The art is light and fun, further helping reduce the intimidation factor of learning web design and development. Naturally, this light and fluffy approach won’t be for everyone. Some people like things direct and to the point, so the time spent on character building and storytelling might seem like a waste. I would contend, however, that these elements help make things easier to remember for beginners by putting them into a more familiar context.
Build Your Own Website also addresses WordPress, which is something I’m a little conflicted about. On the one hand, I’m a big fan of WordPress and use it regularly. It powers an incredible amount of websites and is very much a mainstay in the world of web design and development. On the other hand, it seems a bit out of place in this title. HTML and CSS are both essential, foundational parts of web development. WordPress, for all its advantages, simply isn’t. It’s a content management system. One of many. Yes, it is far and away the most popular one, but it is by no means essential learning for the budding web developer.
Despite my objections, I do understand why it was included in Build Your Own Website. The audience for this book is made up of people who want to learn the basics and get an internet presence setup with a minimum of fuss. WordPress is practically custom build for this, so it makes a lot of sense in this context.
If you want to build your own website (especially if you want to use WordPress), or just want to learn the basics of web development, but get bored or intimidated by more straightforward books, Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress might be a perfect fit for you.
Pick up a copy of Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress today!