Learning HTML/CSS as a designer

An accurate representation of the past 6 months of my life

Choose a project

Many code courses will give you a fake page to work on, but choosing a project of your own to work on is the best way to use your new learnings. It’ll give you an opportunity to actually build something that’s relevant and will have more impact and meaning.

Think through the design first, then focus on the code

There’s a reason why many teams have different people working on UX, UI, branding, business, and development. It’s a lot to think about. Each aspect demands dedicated brain power, and context switching can quickly eat up your time and energy.

Find a mentor

Since starting work at Stack Overflow, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have Ted Goas as my mentor to guide me through the process and expectations of designers at Stack when it comes to coding. Having a mentor who wasn’t my direct manager allowed me to ask questions in an informal channel.

Don’t get lazy about what you’re building

As I was planning out my landing page, I started bargaining with myself on the design. I’d pop in a complex layout, wonder if I could even write this in code, and then scale back to something simpler. As a result, I’d robbed myself the experience of trying to code out a legitimate design.

Do a code teardown of an existing webpage

When you’re first getting started, realizing how much practice you have ahead of you can be intimidating. If you find yourself burning out, take a break from staring at your code to exploring some of the ways that front-end devs in the community are building. It can help to understand how even the most complicated of page elements can be broken down into blocks of code.



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Phoebe Leung

Phoebe Leung


Product Designer @ Stack Overflow. Currently based in NYC but grew up in Hong Kong.