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Just over a year ago, web development was a completely new concept for me. I started off wanting to build something for fun and it turned into something I actually get paid to do! Not quite turning my love of basketball into a position in the NBA, but I’ll take it.

As with any new endeavor, I hit my stumbling points. I started out with a respectable dent in my bank account and reduced space in my apartment because of the massive amount of web-related books I bought at Borders. Don’t get me wrong, one of them was great (yeah, one). I soon learned the best tool was free. The online community quickly became the mentor I needed to help me understand web development, which is why I would like to share the seven most valuable web development websites in my arsenal.

#1 w3 Schools | HTML Tutorial

About: It might not have a ton of flashy design, but w3schools is an amazing reference for everything related to web development.

My favorite feature: Each tutorial comes with a “Try it Yourself” page that allows you to test your skills directly through their site. It’s a great way to make sure you understand the concept so that you can better apply it to your site.

#2 Dream In Code | Programming and Web Development Help

About: Over 400,000 members who all have free access to thousands of programming tutorials, code snippets, forum topics, and more!

My favorite feature: The forum is by far my favorite feature. If you provide details specific to your problem, include your code, and share any additional information that would be helpful to solve your issue, then you are almost guaranteed to have a great response rate.

#3 Net Tutsplus | Web Development Tutorials, beginner to advanced.

About: An easy to follow blog that aims to help designers and developers better their web techniques.

My favorite feature: I’m a big fan of Jeffrey Way, one of the writer/editors. Check out one of his most recent post about using Justin Bieber to increase your site’s traffic

#4 Smashing Magazine | Network Posts

About: A source for the latest trends in web design and development.

My favorite feature: The Smashing Network showcases manually selected articles from the best development and design blogs, such as the following article about 40 Beautiful WordPress 3.0 Ready Themes.

#5 A List Apart | A List Apart

About: A List Apart Magazine explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.

My favorite feature: While it can be a great tool for development specific ideas, the article variation allows for further learning about usability and project management.

#6 Cats Who Code | Web Development Blog

About: A fun place to get web design and development resources and tutorials.

My favorite feature: The overall simplicity of the site makes my life easier. The format of the blogs are intuitive and easy to follow. (Notice how I kept my explanation simple as well.)

#7 Firebug | Firebug

About: Okay, it’s not really a web development site, but it has saved many hours of my life. Firebug is a Firefox browser plugin that allows you to see the HTML markup (among many other features) of any given page on the web.

My favorite feature: You can change the CSS style of elements on any given page on the web! This means you can test your CSS without having to upload the page via FTP every two seconds.

How to: After you install Firebug, click the little bug at the bottom right in your Firefox browser. You should see a popup within your browser. Click the CSS tab and then click the inspect element icon (also in the Firebug popup). Hover over any part of the web page to see the CSS. Make changes to the CSS as you please. If you like those changes, go into your text editor and make them live. That’s it!

In the end:

The aforementioned list is completely based off of my opinion, which my girlfriend usually says is wrong. Please feel free to share your favorites and let me know why everyone interested in web design or development should follow them!

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About the Author
Brad Hogan is involved with Web Development at The Loud Few. You can learn more about him here or follow him on twitter at