If you can use pre-existing tools or platforms to build your tech startup MVP, you absolutely should. If you can’t, though, and hiring or partnering with someone is not an option, learning how to build your startup MVP yourself is a great option. You’ll learn valuable skills and have a better understanding of what makes your startup tick.

What’s the Fastest Path to Proficiency?

We’ve already established that Code School‘s brand of video courses followed by interactive exercises is a great economical way to learn how to build a tech startup yourself. If you’ve decided to jump in, the next step is knowing which courses to take to fast-track your web development education.

Step 1: HTML & CSS

  1. Front-End Foundations
  2. Front-End Formations

These two courses will give you the basics of HTML and CSS which you’ll need to build your web site or web app. HTML is the base layer of every web site. It defines which elements are on the page. CSS complements it by defining how those elements are displayed (e.g. How large is a level one heading? What color is the page background? What color are links on the page?)

Step 2: JavaScript

  1. JavaScript Road Trip Part 1
  2. JavaScript Road Trip Part 2
  3. Try jQuery

JavaScript allows you to make your web pages change in response to many different external inputs like user interaction. For example, you could bulid a calculator that allows users to enter numbers into text fields and shows them the result of the calculation. That particular example might not be useful to you, but JavaScript offers infinite possibilities for making your pages dynamic.

The first two courses will give you the basics. The course on jQuery, while not absolutely necessary, will make your life a lot easier when you’re working with JavaScript. Your scripts will run inside your user’s web browser and, often times, different browsers have slightly different ways of accomplishing the same thing in JavaScript. jQuery smoothes out these differences so you can write code once and be assured it will work in any browser. It also makes many tasks much simpler.

Step 3: Server-Side Code

This step needs some introduction. Everything you’ve done so far has been done exclusively in the user’s browser. If you want to deal with any sort of data at all, you may also need code running on a server somewhere. Here are some examples of functionality that, if you need them, mean you’re going to have to run some code on a server as well:

  • Users can log in
  • Users can share content inside your app
  • Users can buy things inside your app
  • Users can save their data (although you can do a little bit of this in the browser) or you will save user data

These examples are by no means exhaustive. For most apps of any complexity, you’ll need to run some code server-side.

This leaves you to choose a language and framework to use server-side. We’re going to start with JavaScript since you’ve already been learning it to write code for the browser. (That’s right; JavaScript code can run both in the browser and on the server. We’ll try the Express¬†JavaScript server-side framework. It’s just a collection of common code we would have had to write ourselves to build a Javascript server application Here are your server-side code courses:

  1. Real-time Web with Node.js
  2. Building Blocks of Express.js

Optional Helpful Courses (In Order of Importance)

  • Try Git– Git is a version control system. That’s a fancy descriptor developers use for software that lets you keep a history of all your files. Imagine you decide to add some functionality to your server and it doesn’t work out. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to roll back the file to how it was before you added the stuff that didn’t work? Git lets you do that. It’s very important to use a version control system or you’ll suffer lots of frustration when things go wrong.
  • Try SQL– Most web apps use a database to store things like user accounts, content to display in the app, and many other bits of important data. You’ll find ways to make using a database in your server-side application pretty easy, but it’s still handy to know how to interact with the database the old-fashioned way. That’s SQL!

You’ll always have more to learn, but this curriculum should give you the bare minimum to start building your app. Get to work and breathe some life into your startup idea!