I often see articles like Getting Started with Web Design where the author recommends to read a few, but not very small books even for something easy as learning HTML and CSS.

My advice is to learn by shipping, a point taken from the recent blog of Steven Sinofsky, Learning By Shipping. I want to take the challenge one step further and say that you can shipping by learning. Get the right tools that are used by professionals and then start delivering hand made, high quality code without learning anything before that. It seems impossible, but it’s not. It’s actually how a child starts to walk, they don’t learn how to walk, they just do it, over and over again, until it gets perfect. If you learnt about the tag “p” then go ahead and make something useful with that, like creating a few paragraphs inside an HTML document.

My recommendation is to use Firefox and Firebug, because they are the most verbose, easy to learn developer tools available and also, used by professionals. But keep in mind that “View Source” might be the first step to get yourself familiarized with tags inside of the HTML documents and #IDs or .classes for styling those tags with CSS.