Developing basic coding and programming skills


  Developing basic coding and programming skills

Not only does it sound hard, but it costs money!

You can learn basic coding skills for FREE. If you are on a Mac, there are some excellent free tutorials at Code School. For PC users, Codecademy offers a great way to start learning how to code for free. And if you're on the fence about whether this is hard or not, just give these beginner courses a try! You'll see that coding is actually pretty easy and fun so don't let that stop you from trying. And once you do, we bet those "expensive" classes will start looking like a whole lot less of an investment.

So, should you take that class?

You are entirely welcome to take a class if you'd like to. The first one I took was on "Principles of Design" for my internal portfolio at work. It was more of a "educational" class than a true coding class but it was still only $50 for both the online and live classes. And I've found the online course useful for all sorts of different things since learning to code – from website redesigns to creating simple apps and even creating basic mobile games (see: How I Made $2,000 Doing App Development).


1. It's not something that you can learn in a weekend. This is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time! Be prepared to spend hours if you're going to get through any substantial amount of code. Even the very basics take time to learn. And at the end of those hours you'll still be just learning the basics! So don't stress yourself out if you're not perfect at this right away. There is no such thing as perfection when coding, which is part of what makes it so great. You can always improve your skills and tweak your work.

2. It's not super hard if you start simple... If you read the complaints about learning code on forums and in comment sections, it can seem like a very daunting task. And it can seem that way because of the way some people write about it – explaining their frustrations with coding because they spend too much time trying to figure out how to do something on their own without any help from anyone else in the first place. But that's not what makes coding hard! And that's not what will make learning to code hard for you either if you're starting out! What makes coding hard is getting frustrated quickly when things aren't working out quite right and giving up too quickly when things don't go as planned. Give yourself time to learn and make mistakes. Try to avoid the temptation of giving up when things don't work out right away. And be willing to ask for help when you need it! You'd be surprised at how easy it is for a seasoned programmer to help you solve a problem if you're just willing to ask and show them exactly what you're trying to do and what's not working. (ie: "I'm trying to do X in this function but I'm not sure how I should do Y.").

3. If you can learn one programming language, it's EASY to learn another... Coding is not limited just to one language. Even if you learn basic coding on the Windows or OSX version of your computer, there's a huge world of coding possibilities for you on other platforms that you might already be familiar with – such as HTML, CSS and Javascript. These are the languages used in web development. And once you learn them, it's easy to learn others that are very similar – like PHP and Ruby (which I just started learning).

4. It costs REAL MONEY! That $25-50 test course? That isn't all that they teach you. They teach all the basics and leave out a lot of important details that make the whole process easier. There are third-party books and more advanced courses that will cost you hundreds of dollars to learn. So if you're serious about learning code, be prepared for some real financial commitment! The good news is that you can take a free course (Code School or Codecademy) and then read blogs like this one to help you figure out all the rest of the details!

5. You don't need an expensive computer or program. This is another common complaint I see with coding – people complaining about their computers not being up to date enough. But the truth is that you don't need a super fancy computer or program in order to get started with learning how to code. You can do it all on a laptop – and you don't even need its operating system to be Windows! With Chromebooks and tablets, you can easily get started without having to pay for any kind of "up-to-date" computer at all. And once you learn the basics, you can use free programs like CodePen or JSFiddle (always available online) to test out your ideas.

6. It's not just for websites... Sure, the most common use of code is on websites but that's not what I learned the first time I learned to code! I learned how to write basic programs to perform useful functions. Some of those programs turned into websites. But the point is that you can use code for a lot of different things. You can make small apps to perform simple tasks, like making your coffee or setting the temperature in your house all by yourself (see: Making A Simple iOS App). Or you can make more complex programs, like the mobile game I just mentioned above.

7. It's something that you should put off if it's not for you... I get discouraged all the time because my future goals include learning coding but I'm not sure if I've got time to learn coding while still doing what I want to accomplish with my life. But that's what I'm doing anyway. I'm putting off learning code because I want to do other things first. But if you don't feel any motivation to learn code, then you don't need to. And there's no shame if that happens to you! You're perfectly welcome to put your heart into other things first even if they require learning something new like coding.


So even though I'm not sure about learning to code, I do think it's an important skill that everyone should consider learning – at least on some level. One of the best things about coding is that it's something that is very new and changing every day. It's something that you can always learn more about and improve your skills in. And even if you aren't a programmer just yet, you can still use code for other things – like creating websites or apps! There are many different ways to make coding work for you. If you want to learn more, just ask me in the comments and I'll try my best to offer up some advice.

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