Becoming a freelance web developer requires that you are well versed in both server-side and client-side development, that is, a full-stack web developer. Client-side or Front-end web development is the practice of producing web content that a user can see and interact with. Front-end web development is normally accomplished using the programming languages HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Currently, HTML has evolved to HTML5 and CSS3 is the latest standard for Cascading Style Sheets, but JavaScript has not changed much over the years. Instead there are a myriad of JavaScript development libraries and toolkits, from which a web developer will select one or a few to learn and be competent in. Server-side development entails the processing of data on the server using scripting languages such as PHP, Perl, Python and Ruby.

Learning Online
For some people, learning online may appear a bit unorthodox, but it needs not be that way especially when learning web development. This is because the web development industry is a very dynamic field. It evolves and changes rather quickly and is therefore not really an ideal discipline to be taught in traditional schools. That’s why most of the good web-developers are self-taught, having learnt from books, tutorials and online code examples. The Internet is a great environment for self learning and is especially perfect for topics like web development. Notwithstanding, a traditional university degree is still very important, but if you really want to be a successful web developer, then you should also learn online and bookmark the following websites:

Although w3schools is geared towards developers with some basic understanding of web development, it is still a very important website that no web-developer should overlook. If you already understand the theory of web-development, or when you do, then you will appreciate w3schools. It takes the practical approach of teaching by example, while you are free to practice or play with each topic in the online code editor. The topics are also very cleanly laid out, which makes w3schools the perfect reference website for active web-developers. Even Google thinks so too and ranks w3schools very highly for most of its web development queries.

Codeacademy is the perfect website to get a free crash-course on web-development. It is a very popular website and offers course-based learning for a wide variety of web specific programming languages. In learning how to build websites in Codeacademy, you will learn front-end languages like CSS, JavaScript, HTML and JQuery, you will also learn the server side languages like PHP, Ruby and Python. The courses are designed to teach you by doing, which should work best for the “learning by doing type”. And by the time you would have learnt to build a basic website, an interactive website and a rails application, Codeacademy would have equipped you with enough knowledge to go out into the real world and try out a project on your own.

Css-Tricks is another great website for learning web development, although it is more focused on client-side development. It is not in a course-form like Codeacademy, so it is definitely not the place to start learning the basics of website development. But, after you have grasped the basics, and you have started trying your hand at code and design concepts, then you will have a lot to learn from Css-Tricks. Originally, the site was a treasure mine of tips and tricks concerning front-end development topics like HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but it has since grown into a much larger website and even features a premium section now, called “The Lodge”.

Codrops is another fine online learning resource for front end developers. It does not offer a step by step guide to learning web development, but rather offers a venue to expand your imagination and understanding about the possibilities and limits of web development. On Codrops, you will find codes, tutorials and demos of all possible sorts of web front-end designs and object manipulations, including transitions, animations and other forms of dynamic interaction with objects. Most of the posts showcase a single feature, and after you have seen the demo, you are then guided through a tutorial of how to achieve the same results by yourself.

TutsPlus is the last website on this list of sites for free, web development learning. Tutsplus offers both free and paid content. The free content is enough for most beginners and teaches topics like introduction to HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is also possible to browse the site by category, for example JQuery or HTML5, PHP or JavaScript, this way one can focus and learn very interesting stuff from other experienced developers.

There are definitely other free websites that a freelance web developer can learn much from, but these five are among the best and are also loved by thousands of web developers from around the world. You should bookmark all five sites and then, probably add others that suit you along the way. For example, when you choose to develop in JQuery, then will also become a very important web address for you, or if you decide to do large PHP projects, then you may become interested in CakePHP.