How I Learned to Love Code

We’ve reached a point in time when the line between designer and developer becomes less distinguishable with each passing day and the presence of those who were formally referred to as unicorns (the magical designer-developer hybrid) are actually more common. In order to remain relevant in the ever-changing field of digital design, designers are continuing to learn not only the importance of learning how to code, but also just how fun it can be!

I can remember my first year of college, entering the Digital Media program as a freshman with hopes of being accepted into the web design specialization soon after. Why web design you may ask? Well, because I wanted to “build websites and stuff, duh.” I’d had an interest in code from pretty early on and often attempted to build simple portfolio websites for my photography (another hobby at the time) by stealing bits of code from websites I liked and picking the brain of my computer nerd father. So naturally, you’d think that I’d take to the web design major like a fish to water, right? Wrong. After enduring 16 weeks of waking up at the buttcrack of dawn to attend a 7:30 a.m. Intro to Computer Science class, 3 weeks of Actionscript labs, and one too many unhelpful lab instructors, I quickly became acquainted with the headaches that occur when broken code and fast approaching assignment deadlines converge. Unable to handle the stress and concerned that this would become my reality once I entered the workforce, I decided to switch my major to my other love, graphic design, after just one semester and I’m so glad that I did!


No pressure = freedom to learn at your own pace

Once I separated learning to code from the pressures of grades and assignment deadlines, I reaped the benefits of learning at my own pace. Having autonomy in my studies brought me to my earlier days of learning to code when looking at a snippet of code and figuring out how it worked was what made it fun. In switching majors I also found being able to focus more on design was what I really desired. Having code knowledge and then being able to breathe life into my static comps at my leisure was like the cherry on top.


A Few of my Favorite Things

Over the years, I’ve come across a number of tools and resources that I like to explore in my free time as I continue to learn and grow. I’m still very much a beginner with a lot of learning to do but these resources have been a major in the last couple of months. Hopefully they can help you too:

Code School
With Code School, you can “learn by doing” through video lessons and in-browser code challenges. I am currently working my way through the Front End Foundations course and though many of the lessons on things I already know, it’s great to get a more thorough review of the fundamental principles of HTML and CSS.

Framer
Framer is an awesome tool that designers can integrate with Photoshop or Sketch to transform static comps into working, interactive prototypes. All you need to get started is a basic understanding of Javascript. Even with my limited knowledge, I’ve been able to use the easy-to-follow documentation provided on their site to develop some pretty cool interactions.

Codrops
I always enjoy browsing Codrops tutorials and learning how to recreate the various design trends that I see on my favorite websites.


TL;DR

Learning to code is fun and not nearly as scary as many designers may think. There are a ton of resources out there and through a little research and trial and error even beginners can learn to create something awesome. So get out there and code away! Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be the one referred to as a unicorn.