5 Tips for Learning How to Code

Learning isn't easy.

Learning is a roller coaster of highs and lows. Confusion reigns supreme, and breakthroughs are amazing!

 A bright and cheery yellow roller coaster track set against the bright blue sky.

As an online entrepreneur or web designer, you're likely honing your craft and learning new skills. You may even be learning how to code.

Maybe you want to tweak your website design or make it perform better on mobile devices. Learning even a little bit of coding can help you develop the design of your dreams.

As a self-taught developer, I've had my fair share of ups and downs along the way. So today, I'm sharing my top 5 tips for learning how to code!

Tip #1: Find Your Motivation

Why are you learning how to code?

Mostly likely, you're learning to code because you're trying to solve a specific problem. Choosing a problem to solve or a project that sparks your interest is the key to getting and staying motivated.

If you're designing Squarespace websites, you may be interested in learning topics like:

  • how to tweak your design for mobile devices
  • how to keep your text from sprawling across a wide screen
  • how to use browser tools to troubleshoot your website

Whatever the problem, learn how to solve it and then find the next problem to solve!

If you don’t know what problem you want to solve or what project you want to work on, I have a handful of coding projects you can do and a Pinterest Board with some starter projects. Pick one that sparks your interest and get started!

Tip #2: Choose the Right Language

Type "learn to code" into Google and you're going to receive over 4 billion results. 4 billion!

These results cover a variety of languages like Java, Python, C, PHP, C++, JavaScript, C#, Ruby, etc., etc., etc.

That's a long list of programming languages, but you don't need most of them if you're building Squarespace websites!

Focus your learning on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML and CSS by themselves are enough to do most of what you'd want to do in Squarespace. And bonus! These are great languages to help you dip your toes into learning how to code.

Tip #3: Find amazing resources!

My lowest lows on my coding journey came when I didn't know what to learn or how to learn it.

I felt overwhelmed and confused. I didn't even know how to start!

So how do you choose what to learn? And where do you find resources?

Well, I can definitely help you there. Here are a few of my favorite resources for learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

These resources will help get you started and also give you ideas for what you can learn next.

Resource List

Tip #4: Set SMART Goals

Without a good goal to reach for, you're likely to get lost along the way.

Solid goals are SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific - Create a super detailed goal. The more details about what you're going to learn and how you're going to get there, the better.

Measurable - How are you going to measure your success? How will you know when you've succeeded?

Attainable - It's all fine and dandy to shoot for the stars, but you need a goal that's within reach. Don't set yourself up for failure. Make sure your goal is reasonable for your current skills.

Building a web app in a day is not attainable if you're just starting to learn how to code. But learning how to add colorful gradients to your page backgrounds is a perfectly reasonable thing to achieve in an hour or two.

Relevant - How is your goal relevant to your long-term goals and dreams? How does your goal help you run your business?

Time-bound - Give your goal a deadline. Don't make the mistake of leaving this open-ended. You need a line drawn in the sand to help keep you motivated and moving forward.

Tip #5: Embrace the Confusion

“The path of learning goes through the swamp of confusion.”

— Dr. Rhett Allain, Associate Professor of Physics

One of my favorite articles about learning is by Dr. Rhett Allain. In his article, "Learning goes through The Land of Confusion", he explains why you're supposed to be confused when you're learning. He says "If you are not confused, you are not going through the learning process."

By going through the process of first being confused about a concept, and then learning it until it clicks, you're setting yourself up to truly understand that concept and remember it.

If you're not confused, you're unlikely to push yourself to learn more than a surface understanding of the concept. And a surface understanding is easily forgettable.

When you're confused and frustrated and nothing is going the way that you want it to, take a time out.

Take a step back from your work, go on a walk, take a shower, or work on something creative. Once you've given your brain a break, you may just find that you're ready to approach the problem from a different angle and finally obtain a deeper understanding of the concept.

Learn to Code

It's true. Learning isn't easy. But with a few tips and a bit of perserverance, you can succeed!

Remember to:

  1. Find a problem to solve or project that sparks your interest.
  2. Start with HTML and CSS. Then, work your way up to JavaScript.
  3. Benefit from my learning journey and check out my favorite resources.
  4. Set SMART goals!
  5. Embrace the confusion. Push past it into deeper understanding.