What worked for me (and is hopefully helpful for you!)
Hopefully this will be helpful to you if you’re exploring the idea of learning to code but just aren’t sure where to even start.
I never appreciated teachers more than when I had to try designing a curriculum myself.
One of the hardest things about self-paced, independent learning was wading through the massive amounts of content available, in many cases totally free (one of the coolest things about this industry, btw!). In such a rapidly evolving space like web development, it was really tough to figure out which courses (and technologies) were still relevant, which courses were actually being taught well, and frankly which courses would not just be a big waste of time.
I was fortunate enough to have a handful of close friends that are software engineers, so I got some great guidance along the way. I encourage you to reach out to anyone you know in the industry for the same.
Where to begin?
It was recommended to me to ease into coding by trying my hand at basic HTML & CSS, which looking back was definitely the right move.
HTML is a collection of predefined elements that can be combined into a tree-like collection that defines the structure of a webpage. These elements are defined by their various tags, for example:
<h1>Header tags for... well, headers</h1>
<p>Paragraph tags for body text</p>
<a href="somewebsiteURL">Anchor tags for hyperlinks</a>
From a beginner’s perspective, I think starting in HTML makes sense because it doesn’t require a lot of complex logic. It’s more about understanding how a basic website structure is defined under the hood, so you can focus on the basics.
CSS — or cascading style sheets — provide the styling of a website. It’s how you dictate things like the font, text sizes, background colors, and way too many other things to list (like Flexbox fun).
What did I use for learning HTML & CSS?
My first foray into HTML and CSS (and a little bit of jQuery) was a paid course (like $9.99) on Udemy by Jonas Schmedtmann titled Build Responsive Real World Websites with HTML5 and CSS3. I coded side-by-side with each video in the course, and felt it gave me a solid foundation in HTML/CSS. And while jQuery isn’t necessarily the “hot thing” anymore, there is plenty of legacy code out there and the course still provides a useful lesson in DOM manipulation (further solidifying your knowledge of HTML and its structure), so that’s worthwhile as well.
If you’re looking for something free — or just a few more places for HTML- and CSS-focused material — the following would be helpful (I used many of these sites while learning JS):
- freeCodeCamp’s Basic HTML and HTML5 and Basic CSS curriculum (I did all of the HTML section and a good chunk of the CSS section, but admittedly got a little bit bored with this one, though I know others have really enjoyed it)
- Codecademy’s Learn HTML course
- Other resources that are supposed to be great (and free!) but I don’t have experience with: treehouse, Coursera, edX (founded by Harvard and MIT), and Khan Academy
The below are all resources that I used and strongly recommend. I’d also advise tackling them in the following order, too:
- Fullstack Academy also makes this awesome resource available online for free: Bootcamp Prep, which I highly recommend! It gives you everything you need to get comfortable enough with JS to successfully apply to FSA. I’d recommend completing one of the two aforementioned courses first, though.
If you’ve got other courses you’d recommend, or just want to say hi, shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org :)