Web design & development training site comparison

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As a web professional, it is important to keep up with the latest web technology and continue to up-skill yourself throughout your career. 
One easy way to up-skill is by learning from online training websites.

Since there are lots of these online training websites out there, it can be difficult to know where to start.  We have done a quick review of the biggest online learning tools out there, and also created a nifty little comparison table to help you choose the best online learning tool for you.

Disclaimer: Zing Design is in no way affiliated with any of these companies below.


Treehouse is one of the most comprehensive learning sites out there. With over 100 videos they cover from the basics of HTML, SEO optimisation, to Javascript frameworks like Ember or Node.


Their site works in two ways. You can either browse through their library of courses if you are looking to learn a particular skill, or you can choose a “track” – a collection of courses from different topics that will build up to achieving an all round skill, like front-end development or WordPress development.


Course content is made up of videos, with a tutor explaining concepts and examples. In the more heavily code-based courses the files are available to download, so that you can work alongside the videos or practise in your own time.



  • Treehouse iPad app where you can do all that you can on the desktop version plus download the videos to watch offline.
  • Comprehensive list of topics and courses.
  • Collect badges, and displays a wheel of colours that make up a visual guide of what topics you have been learning.
  • Simple and clear videos with lots of visuals and enthusiastic tutors.
  • Forum for discussion on treehouse courses or general enquires.
  • Lots of variations of the videos are available. You can speed up or slow down the video, or download the transcripts.
  • Suits all levels, from beginners to advanced learners.
  • Supportive and motivating vibe from tutors and the website as a whole.


  • Website can be overwhelming and confusing to navigate at first.
  • Could be difficult for people with slow or limited amount of internet streaming the videos.

Code School

Code School is a cool platform as it has identified the most popular and effective development technologies, and established multiple “paths” which beginners can take to quickly up-skill in any chosen area. It also offers the flexibility to take any of the courses separately, appealing to students who wish to skip the basics.


The principles behind Code School are that anybody can learn to code and that coding should always be fun. The courses are richly interactive, they are clearly inspired by video games, with points and achievements to unlock.



  • Great for beginners, the paths cover everything you need to know about a given technology, from basics to advanced techniques.
  • Video-game style interactive tutorials, with storylines and a live code visual editor.
  • High quality videos with a good sense of humour.
  • Offers free courses to give new users a full demonstration.
  • Adjustable playback speed on videos.
  • They’re constantly adding new courses.


  • There isn’t a discount for yearly subscriptions or for teams.
  • Occasional minor bugs in the visual code editor can lead to confusion (though this may be due to my funky code).
  • No free trial, only free courses and levels, which may put some people off.


Codecademy is a great place for beginners to start. Their courses are free making it even more attractive, and if you like to learn by doing, these courses are great.


Built similarly to code school, Codecademy has all the information on the left side, with a text editor on the right. To get to the next step you have to follow their instructions and submit the right answer to continue. They also have projects that will teach you a collection of topics over a couple of hours.


When submitting your answers It can be a bit buggy at times, and upon refreshing the code it wipes all that you have written. Some of the course material can jump quickly, making it really hard to get to the next level and potentially losing motivation. All in all, for a free learning tool it is great; really interactive and easy to use.


  • It’s free.
  • Great for beginners with easy to follow material.
  • Allows you to be more “hands on” by writing out the code.
  • It’s free (yes this should be mentioned twice).
  • Easy to follow website. You can see how long (approx.) the course will take and what content each step will include.


  • A little buggy at times, freezes and wont allow you to go to the next stage.
  • Some course content jumps in level of ability, making it a little confusing at times.


Learnable is based on the enormously popular SitePoint books and the courses are generally oriented around the content of the books. Users can pay for a monthly/yearly subscription and non-subscribers can buy the individual eBooks.


The subjects they cover include the popular web development technologies, mobile development and design. What sets Learnable apart is that they also teach professional skills like workflow and project management. 



  • Book-orientated learning; great for folks who love to read and like to have a reference manual for later.
  • Each course and book is publicly reviewed, which helps to keep the quality of content high.


  • The course content is community-sourced, so varies in quality.
  • The course videos don’t have the same high quality production values as Treehouse or Code School.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy has been around for years, and is a learning platform which covers a vast array of subjects. They have courses for all the major disciplines, including maths, science, economics and humanities.


They also have courses for programming and computer science, one course for web design and (currently) three JavaScript programming courses.



  • It’s free!
  • Great for more advanced developers looking to expand their skill-set laterally.
  • Learn advanced JavaScript; animation, game development and simulations.
  • The computer science course provides an introductory course for algorithms, very useful to learn if you want to get into more advanced programming.
  • Math is super fun and is just as helpful in the real world as it is in web development.
  • Comments shared with other users – this is an interactive element that the other platforms don’t seem to currently include – fortunately they’ve got a decent system in place to keep out the trolls!


  • It’s free. So don’t expect any of the flashy interactive features, the likes of Treehouse and Code School provide.
  • It’s a broad-spectrum learning platform, and does not focus on web and application development like the other platforms we’ve mentioned.
  • The course content is community-sourced, so varies in quality.
  • The HTML and CSS demonstrated in the web design course is just a little bit dated.

Comparison table

Updated: 15/12/2014

 Subjects Treehouse Code School Learnable Codecademy Khan Academy
Ruby on Rails
Design & UX
Computer Science
Treehouse Code School Learnable Codecademy Khan Academy
Live code
Native apps ✓*
$USD/Month From $25 $29 From $9 FREE FREE 

*iOS only.

Disclaimer: Zing Design is in no way affiliated with any of these companies.

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  1. Matt

    Code School was amazing in my experience. I learned got up to speed with HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, & jQuery in around 3-5 months. Haven’t tried any other besides Treehouse but Code School served its purpose well for me. Treehouse was nice too, but didn’t feel as concise.

  2. MikeW

    (Lynda.com is HUGE and a really excellent resource on all kinds of topics. It should have been included in your review.)

    I recently completed the Treehouse webdesign sequence. The courses were technically well produced and their system reminded me to come back when I didn’t login frequently. The courses that comprised the sequence, however, varied dramatically in the quality of their content. Many were well conceived, were delivered by excellent instructors (Guil Hernandez comes to mind), and had well-done quizzes to check on one’s progress. Others were trivial, poorly thought through, and had simply appallingly bad quizzes. I, nonetheless, had to slog through them in order to get to the course that I wanted to take. (For what it is worth, I taught graduate, university level classes for 35 years, have a Ph.D., and know something about instruction and test construction.)

    1. Zheng

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for dropping by and giving us another good resource to look at, we will have a look at Lynda and in-corporate it into the comparisons above, since multiple readers have suggest it.


    1. Zheng

      Hi there, as we’ve said in the intro, we are only comparing the top 5 biggest and most well-known training sites in this article. But thanks for your contribution.


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