Learning to code may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be; there are steps you can take to make the process go more smoothly and ensure your success. Here are some tips to help make your journey as enjoyable and successful as possible.
1. Have a Concrete Goal
Before you start learning code, you need to know why you’re doing it. Take some time to consider your ultimate goal. It can be as easy or challenging as you’d like. For example, is your goal to get a job as a Python Developer and eventually earn $100,000 per year? Do you want to start a business building websites for other companies? Or do you just want to know how to create websites for fun?
Having a clear direction in mind will make it easier to set short-term learning milestones to push you toward your ultimate goal. Goal setting will also make coding feel less overwhelming and keep you motivated as you learn.
2. Develop a Plan
Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can start to develop a plan to reach that goal. Creating a plan will give you a sense of direction and help keep you on track as you learn to code. Having a plan in place also forces you to focus on one step at a time which can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
If you don’t want to create your own learning plan, there is another, even better, option: taking web development classes. Instead of trying to piece together your own education, you can take a class that was created by a professional programmer. There are classes available on practically every aspect of coding, so you’re sure to find one that will lead you to your end goal.
3. Start with the Fundamentals
Another tip to ensure your success is to focus on the fundamentals first. While you may be tempted to jump ahead because you’re eager to make progress, it’s important to have a firm grasp of elementary coding concepts before you start tackling anything too advanced. If you get ahead of yourself and reach too far beyond your current understanding, you’ll likely become lost and confused. Take your learning journey one step at a time.
4. Practice Every Day
We’ve all heard the old adage that practice makes perfect, right? While the expression might be a bit overused, the advice is both practical and true: the more you engage in an activity, the better you become. By practicing every day, you’ll solidify your knowledge of coding fundamentals and improve your overall skill level. Daily coding will also help you become better at detecting your errors and avoiding similar mistakes in the future.
While you might find it challenging to code every single day, you should try your best to stick to a regular routine and make it a habit. The more time you take off from coding, the harder it is to restart; one day off stretches into two or three days and your skills start to degrade. You’ll find yourself having to refresh your memory and review old concepts instead of advancing your skill level. The more faithful you are about coding regularly, the more your skills will improve.
5. Connect with Other Coders
The next tip is good news for extroverts, but bad news for introverts: if you want to successfully learn coding, you should work on expanding your network. The reason is simple—you’ll need support as you learn to code. What better resource is there than those who have already learned how to program? And if your goal is to get a job in web development, it’s even more important to connect with other coders; the more people you know, the more job opportunities you’ll have access to.
There are various ways to meet other programmers including attending local meet-ups, seminars, and conferences. You might also be able to network with other local tech professionals at a nearby coworking space. If you don’t have the time for in-person events or if they’re too far outside your comfort zone, you could always make connections with other coders online; there are thriving programming communities online at Stack Overflow, Reddit, and Dev.to, just to name a few.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
If you want to learn coding, be prepared to make mistakes along the way. There’s a modern emphasis on excellence that has unfortunately created a lot of people who fear making mistakes. And that fear can cause people to blunt their curiosity and resist pursuing their passions.
Instead of fearing mistakes or being ashamed of them, embrace them as opportunities to learn. Think of it this way: If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making progress. Learning anything new is difficult, regardless of the topic. You will make mistakes along the way, but they don’t have to hold you back. Just accept the errors, find ways to fix them, and learn from the experience-; if you do, you’ll become a much better coder.
7. Be Willing to Ask for Help
Even though you'll be making plenty of mistakes as you learn to code, the good news is you don’t have to struggle through it alone. Remember that network that you’ve tapped into? They’ve been where you are and have probably faced many of the same challenges you’re currently going through. That means they’re in an excellent position to help you out whenever you get stuck. And the global developer community is known for being supportive; if you post a question on Stack Overflow (the largest online programming community), chances are you’ll quickly receive a response.
8. Work On a Variety of Projects
As you’re acquiring your coding skills, you’ll start applying them by working on projects. When you do this, try to consciously choose a wide variety of projects to work on. You may be tempted to focus only on those you’re excited about, but if you apply your skills to only a few types of projects, your growth as a coder will be limited. Passion projects do serve a purpose—to make learning more enjoyable—but don’t stick to those alone.
If you’re not sure how to diversify what you’re working on, you might try open-source projects or coding challenges. The best place to find open source projects is GitHub. With more than 56 million users, GitHub provides an amazing opportunity to work with developers from across the globe. There are several sites where you can find coding challenges to participate in, with the most popular being TopCoder, HackerRank, CodeChef, Coderbyte, LeetCode, Codewars, and CodinGame. Each one of these sites offers a wide range of coding challenges, so you’re sure to find several that match your interest and skill level.
9. Track Your Learning
As you’re working on your coding skills, it may seem like your education will never end—there’s always another programming language, library, framework, or tool that you need to learn. Because coding is such a deep subject, it can be easy to feel like you’re not making any progress at all. One way to counteract these feelings is to track your learning.
Tracking your learning is one of the best ways to stay motivated as you acquire new coding skills. Tracking can be done in a variety of ways like in a spreadsheet, written journal, or blog post. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even try coding your own online tracker! Whenever your motivation is lagging and you don’t feel like you’re making progress, just review what you’ve already learned; you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will boost your confidence and push you to continue learning.
10. Know When to Take a Break
While you’re working hard to learn coding, don’t forget to take some time to rest. It’s important to schedule regular time off and go enjoy something other than programming or else you risk burning out. If you keep charging ahead at full steam, it won’t be long before you grow tired of coding and start to avoid it altogether. Take at least one day off and you’ll have more energy to learn throughout the remainder of the week.
The Best Way to Learn Coding
The fastest and most efficient way to learn how to code is by completing a web development bootcamp. Bootcamps offer intensive training on an abbreviated schedule which means you’ll acquire all the essential coding skills in just a few short months. Bootcamps are also the best way to get started if your goal is to start a career in web development. You can even find online web development bootcamps that will easily fit into your schedule. If you want to learn coding but you can’t make time for a comprehensive bootcamp, you might consider enrolling in an individual class or two. There’s a wide range of web development classes available online and in person.