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How to start building your first project?
You would need to brainstorm/layout ideas for whatever project/website you decide to write up in code. You can look up inspiration for layouts on the web for practice by going to sites like collectui.com, dribbble.com, or awwwards.com. Website Layouts are commonly referred to as User Interfaces(UI) so you could probably elaborate in that area from other sites such as youtube, lynda, or even skillshare.
However if you are planning to be a front-end developer on a team, you most likely would have a designer creating the interfaces for you where you have to translate it to code but if you are just practicing you could easily try to 'recreate sites' you visit--keep in mind it is for practice not as a portfolio piece if you do take that route. If you are looking to create something as a website to be used to show employers, a portfolio is always a great first piece of how to represent yourself as a front-end developer.
If you do have more financial stability for Treehouse, I'd recommend taking some of the following courses to start familiar yourself with designing: https://teamtreehouse.com/library/web-design-process https://teamtreehouse.com/library/design-foundations https://teamtreehouse.com/library/exercise-your-creative https://teamtreehouse.com/library/tools-to-improve-frontend-performance https://teamtreehouse.com/library/designing-in-the-browser-versus-adobe-illustrator