The Ultimate Guide for learning how to code as a beginner | SheCodes

The Ultimate Guide for learning how to code as a beginner

Coding may seem daunting, but anyone can learn how to code with the right tools and learning methods!

Welcome

Coding may seem daunting, but anyone can learn how to code with the right tools and learning methods!

So you’re here because you want to learn how to code. Maybe you want to change career paths and become a developer/engineer so you can have more job perks or experience more interesting work. Perhaps you want to improve your current work and impress your boss. Or it could be that you want to expand your professional and/or personal skill set. Or maybe you just want to learn how to code because it looks like fun.  

No matter the reason, it’s completely possible for you to learn. Anyone can learn how to code as long as they’re equipped with the proper tools.  

Read on to discover what coding is, why you should learn how to code, and how you can start your coding journey

What is coding?

You might be thinking - I don’t even know what coding is! Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.
 
Coding is a skill in which you translate some instructions from a human language into a language that a computer will understand in order to achieve a certain result, such as a functioning web page. There are many different coding/programming languages out there and it can be a bit overwhelming. Where should you start? Which languages should you learn? 

It’s a good idea to start by learning some basic coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These are front-end web development languages. If you understand these 3 languages, you’ll gain a much better understanding of the inner workings of the internet. 

You should also learn how to use a basic coding editor such as Visual Studio Code - which is like the Microsoft Word of coding. This is where all of your coding magic will happen.

It’s beneficial to start by learning front-end development instead of back-end development - this is discussed in more detail later in this guide. You can also discover more about this in our free intro to coding class.

Why learn to code?

Learning how to code can help you in your current work or open up new career opportunities for you. It can also help you grow personally and professionally.

Gaining some coding knowledge has a variety of benefits. It will help you keep your skill set up to date in our increasingly technological society and make you a more desirable candidate for a job role. It will also help you improve your current work in nearly every field (check out some testimonials from designers, marketers, and managers below). 

It can even boost your salary or open up the door to some brand new job opportunities.

Every company is a tech company

Nowadays, nearly every company is a tech company. It’s no news that the tech industry has been on the rise for quite some time now. The need for technology and knowledge of it has grown in society and business alike. 

The digitization and move online of many companies has created the need for more and more technical jobs within companies, even for those who are not working in technical roles. Whereas this industry has historically been a male-dominated field, this is starting to change. Everyone can and should learn how to code in order to keep their skill sets relevant and up-to-date in our increasingly technological society. 

Coding knowledge will help you improve your current work

Even if you don’t want to become a developer, coding knowledge will prove to be helpful in your current work. You'll become more self-sufficient, ameliorate your analytical thinking skills, better your attention to detail, and improve your communication with other departments and colleagues. 

  • Become more self-sufficient by gaining the ability to solve small technical issues on your own. You’ll save time and energy and will likely impress your boss and colleagues.  
  • Ameliorate your analytical thinking which will help you discover new solutions for your work and improve your problem-solving.
  • Better your attention to detail, because when learning how to code, even something as small as a missing semicolon (;) can affect your whole code. This will improve your workflow and minimize errors in your work.
  • Improve your communication with other departments and colleagues, especially with those who work in the development department at your company. Improving your interdepartmental communication will help you enhance company collaboration and streamline your workflow and communication. Better communication = happier employees.
The day after I started SheCodes, I could use my skills to execute website changes without the developer support. I gained a good understanding of how things work behind the scenes… Now, I don't need to get in contact with support every time I have an issue at work.”
- Samantha, Communications Officer at ECO-UNESCO, SheCodes Graduate

Coding knowledge is helpful to gain if you already work at a tech company in a non-development department...
5/5 - Highly recommended

I work for a tech startup in a relationships role and had always wondered how our website actually worked. When I saw lines of code on our engineers' screens, I had absolutely no idea what they were working on. A lot of my clients ironically are actually coding boot camps! Given the high costs of attending an in-person boot camp, I wasn't sure if I wanted to make such a large investment upfront. Discovering SheCodes was a lucky find for me. I found all of the course material to be spaced out and easy to manage/comprehend. Matt does a great job demystifying the world of code. Hopefully I can put these skills to good use in my current role or in a new challenge in the future. Even if you don't have aspirations to become a programmer, there is no reason to not take this course. It gives you a great foundation for understanding how code works.

…or for those working in non-tech companies in virtually any role, such as designers, marketers, managers, and more. Coding knowledge is useful for everyone these days.  

Why Designers should learn how to code

You’ll be able to better understand what is possible in your design and how easy or difficult it is for a developer to make it become a reality. Being able to better communicate with developers and understand what goes into building your design will be a big perk for your work and design process.

Take it from SheCoder Addina - she's used her coding knowledge to vastly improve her work as a designer! You can read her story here.
5/5 - Highly recommended

This workshop was easy to follow and very useful! As a UX Designer, I now feel I have a better understanding of what developers do once I hand off my designs.

Why Marketers should have some coding knowledge

You'll get things done without having to depend on developers. Coding knowledge will help you create better email campaigns, manipulate your data, and execute basic A/B testing. All of this will lead to better understanding your customers and being a better marketer, especially if you work in digital marketing. 
5/5 - Highly recommended

I have really enjoyed the course! As a digital marketing professional, I'd say HTML/CSS knowledge is an essential skill to have these days. Now I feel much more confident to interact with developers and engineers that I work with during projects.

Why Managers need coding skills

Coding skills will help managers in all departments gain both personal and professional enrichment. This knowledge will also help managers better understand their company’s products to better manage their team. 
My motivation to join SheCodes was to improve my technical aptitude as a product manager. Part of leading a team means you meet your teammates on a level that everyone understands. I am now able to have better, more efficient conversations with my developers.”
- Lauren Akamine, Product Manager at Zipwhip, SheCodes Graduate
5/5 - Highly recommended

I honestly am shocked. I took this course as an Operations Manager for a start up. I manage one tech teammate and I remember her inspecting pages and finding errors almost immediately. I just got tired of feeling like I was managing someone whose work I didn't understand and I wanted to become someone who she could go to for support. I looked at code today at work in our email marketing and what used to be SO scary to click was now total cake and made sense. I can't wait to take the next level in SheCodes. It's so fulfilling and Matt and his support team are unmatched. I also made friends and I am a TOTAL introvert. I'm so proud of myself.

Knowing how to code boosts your salary

Not only will coding knowledge enhance your career capabilities, it also boosts your resume, your personal and professional skill set, your hirability (for higher paying jobs), and your salary. You’ll become a more valuable employee because you’re multi-skilled, especially in a multidisciplinary team where wearing many hats is desired. 
“During my job search, when I started to add my coding knowledge to my CV - even very basic knowledge of what I had learned - I could tell that it meant a lot to companies that I had this knowledge.
- Cyrielle Hadamitzki, Tech Support Engineer at Postman, SheCodes Graduate

Coding knowledge helps you stand out in the hiring pool

Even having basic coding knowledge helps you stand out from other employees, impress current or future employers, and snag a job with a higher salary. Knowing how to code could also lead to getting a promotion or moving to another role within your company. 

You might be thinking now, but how can I make it known that I know how to code? How can I share my coding knowledge? You can do so on platforms like LinkedIn to really get noticed. Adding your certifications and skills, along with sharing something tangible like a certificate, are especially good ways to attract the attention of current or potential employers. 

Coding Provides You With New Job Opportunities

Coding knowledge also opens up new career opportunities for you, in both development and non-development roles. Note: Developer is another way to say software engineer. 

Development/Software Engineering opportunities

If you’re looking for a highly-demanded job that has more job perks and higher pay, then a job in development might be right for you. Development opportunities span far and wide and whereas the type of developer needed may differ, the demand is high in nearly every corner of the world. 

You can search online to see what roles are available in your area. Oftentimes, working as a developer/software engineer is very lucrative. You can check the average salary in your area by going to Google and searching Payscale software engineer salary + country. For example, you can find the average salary of a software engineer in the United States here

It’s possible to apply to a fully-remote job, but it’s often recommended to begin in an office setting if possible because you’ll be able to learn a lot more from your colleagues and ask many more questions this way. 

Becoming a developer will provide you with many job benefits:

1. You'll have more rewarding work.

Coding knowledge can lead to more intriguing work and a happier work life.
“I have recently changed careers from store manager to front end dev. Going through SheCodes gave me the knowledge to know where to start… I have to problem solve differently now and it uses a different part of my brain which is so rewarding. Every day I feel so full of knowledge and I discover something new with every task I’m given.” 
2. You'll have better working hours and a work-life balance.

You'll often have more flexibility in your work schedule so you have more freedom in your work and your life.
“When I learned to code with SheCodes, I saw this as an opportunity to start in a new direction. I’m happy to start the new year with my new job as a frontend developer… I definitely have better hours and can work from home. The work-life balance is also much more balanced.”  
3. Knowing how to code provides you with more interesting work and better pay.

Not only will you most likely enjoy your work more, you'll also enjoy the perk of an increase in salary. 
“SheCodes helped me find out that I loved coding so I decided to switch careers from personal trainer to IT Trainee. Because of SheCodes I took the basic steps towards becoming a developer and found my new job… My job now is completely different. It is more interesting for me and the pay is better.” 
4. You'll have the ability to work remotely and more job freedom.

This will help you enjoy more freedom in your schedule since you don’t have to spend any time commuting.
I am now engaged with web design and development firms, and would not be able to support them in the way that I am without the skills I learned as part of SheCodes… A few weeks before the end of my final SheCodes project, I landed freelance development work... Becoming a developer has allowed me to work remotely, enjoy the work more, work within an industry I find interesting, and spend more time with family.” 
5. Enjoy the freedom to work on outside projects, as well.

This way, you can build up your portfolio and spend more time on projects just for fun. 
“The knowledge I gained in SheCodes introduced me to Web Development, which I didn’t have any experience in before. SheCodes was a big factor in landing my first job at a tech company after college. My job is flexible enough to allow for my own projects outside of work.” 

Non-development opportunities

Maybe you’d like to work in IT but aren’t sure if you’d like to be a developer/software engineer. That’s okay, too! Coding knowledge will prove to be helpful for you to transition to a non-development role in tech, as well.

Gaining some coding knowledge and getting a job in tech will provide you with some great benefits. You'll: 

1. Have more enjoyable/interesting work.

Coding knowledge can help you transition to a job that is more fulfilling.
“My career has changed completely and SheCodes helped me get this job. I was in the hospitality field before and now I work for a startup. I can finally say I really enjoy what I do and it's by far a more interesting field for me. 
2. Enjoy the opportunity to work for the company of your dreams.

Learning how to code can open up new career opportunities and help you accomplish your career goals.
“Companies like Microsoft and Amazon fascinated me and my dream was to work in one of these firms. Coding was the entry point of my direction towards working in the Tech industry… SheCodes was one of my very first steps into the tech field which made its contribution to where I am - working in one of the most successful and inspiring IT companies in the world. 
3. Expand your career horizons and gain an advantage over other candidates.

Coding knowledge creates new career opportunities and will help you get hired over other candidates.
“I decided to step up in this career and have better opportunities. I knew I had to take a coding course in order to step up, and I was also just very interested… Even if you don’t want to get a coding job, knowing coding puts you ahead of other candidates in the job search process.” 

Who can code?

You might be thinking that coding isn't for you - think again! Everyone can and should learn how to code.

Anyone and everyone can learn how to code as long as they are equipped with the proper tools! So, as long as you have a laptop and the proper coding software (which is super easy to install), it’s just a matter of practicing and keeping your motivation high.

You can learn how to code even if:
  • you're a complete beginner
  • you're not 100% fluent in English
  • you're not a Math wizard
  • you're not very tech-savvy
  • you learned how to code a long time ago

Read on to discover that you, too, can learn how to code! 

What if I’m not fluent in English?

If you understand this guide so far, your English level is more than enough to learn how to code. It’s known that the common language of coding is English because many coding terms are in English, but don’t worry - you won’t have to write long or complicated sentences when coding! 
5/5 - Highly recommended

I speak just a little english and my level with computer is very bad however i understand the courses and the exercices it was a good experience.

What if I don’t come from a technical background and am bad at Math?

In a nutshell, you don’t have to be good at math or come from a technical background to learn how to code. SheCodes graduates such as Iris and Abbey can attest to this. They’re both working as developers now, but started in very different fields - personal training and retail.
5/5 - Highly recommended

I am not from a technology background in the slightest. I've been sewing theatrical costumes for a living for 12 years. This course was completely comprehensive and fun! I'm such a visual learner, so being able to see my work with every small change made this learning process so great.

Many professional developers do not like math and are not good at it, contrary to popular belief. Coding may look like math because it uses functions, but it just involves logical thinking, not geometry, algebra, or calculus! You don’t even need special training in logical thinking, it’s all very intuitive. You’re the one who will be telling the computer what to do, so the logistics behind writing code are a lot more intuitive than you may think. 

Coding actually involves much more creativity than many people think. With coding, you can really get creative with your problem-solving because there are countless ways in which to arrive at a solution. For example, the very same web page could be coded in a lot of different ways! Usually, there is not just one way to solve your coding problem.  
5/5 - Highly recommended

I equated coding abilities with math. Since I struggled with math, I was intimidated for years to even try my hand at coding. Until now! Thank you SheCodes! The tutorials are easy to follow, the concepts broken down to make them understandable, and the homework helps you build up your knowledge as the course go. This is just the beginning :)

What if I learned how to code a long time ago?

Even if you learned how to code a while ago, it’s never too late to refresh. Things change really quickly in the coding world, so it’s actually good to refresh your skills every so often to make sure your coding knowledge is up to date. With the constantly changing industry standards, things you learned many years ago may no longer be relevant.

What if it hasn’t been that long since I last coded? It’s still good to refresh your skills. After all, even developers who code every day need to constantly update their knowledge to stay up-to-date with the constantly evolving tech world. It’s an industry where you never stop learning!

Much like anything in life, coding is all about practice makes perfect. If you haven’t utilized your coding skills in a while, you may be a little rusty. So it’s good to go back to the basics and refresh your knowledge and practice, practice, practice. It’s also good to refresh your coding knowledge if you’ve gained some knowledge in the past but have never actually gotten to put that knowledge into practice. Completing hands-on coding challenges while you learn is a great way to make sure you’re absorbing the information. That way, you’ll fully understand if there are any gaps in your learning or concepts that you’re not grasping. This will help ensure that you have a good understanding of coding concepts before putting your coding knowledge to use out in the real world. 
5/5 - Highly recommended

I really enjoyed the SheCodes workshops! I enrolled to refresh my web development knowledge, as I haven't touched it in 5 years, and wound up getting a proper grasp on some things that I'd used previously used but hadn't really understood. The videos explain things quite well, the bite-sized exercises and homework really help reinforce the learnings, and completing the final project really brings a sense of achievement.

First steps for learning how to code

Here are the initial steps for beginning your coding journey.

Learning how to code often seems like an overwhelming process. But not to worry, when equipped with the right knowledge, the process will seem like a breeze. You'll want to conduct some initial research and find out what kinds of development there are, what kind of development you'd like to learn, and what platform is best for you to complete your coding journey. We've detailed some information and recommendations below. 

Reading this guide is already a good first step towards learning how to code! It means you’re curious about coding and as a complete beginner, having strong motivation is half of the battle.

Initial Research

A great place to start is to figure out what kind of development you’re interested in or what coding languages would be useful for you to learn to help you personally or professionally. This can be done through research online or by attending our free Introduction to Coding class to find out more and get some of your coding questions answered. 

First things first, what kinds of development are there? 

  • Front-end development is all about user experience. If you go to your browser and open a website, everything you see is front-end. These kinds of developers/engineers work on building a page or an app where there is user interaction. The core languages here are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 
  • Back-end development deals with what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s much more data-driven and works together with front-end to make everything possible. Back-end development is in charge of communication between the browser and the database. These kinds of developers/engineers work with servers and databases. Some common back-end languages are Java, PHP, and Ruby on Rails. 
    • For example, every time our students log in to their SheCodes accounts, their student data and workshop progress come up exactly as they were before because their data has been stored. This is back-end doing its magic and pulling the data from its storage location.

For more information about the difference between front-end and back-end, you can join our free class.

What kind of development should I start learning as a beginner? 

Front-end development is a great entry point into the world of coding because it’s great for visual learners and the knowledge will be useful in nearly any field. By starting with front-end, you’ll learn some of the simplest coding languages and as a beginner, it’s good to start slow and pace yourself as you ease into the development world. 

It may be useful to learn front-end development for many reasons:
  • If you work with web developers and would like to improve your communication with them
  • If you would like to bulk up your CV in our increasingly technological society
  • If you want to improve your analytical thinking skills
  • If you’re looking to transition to a career in tech or become a developer/engineer

For example, imagine you want to build an online shop. Would you start by learning the details of how to pull your clients’ data from your database into their account on the website? Probably not! It would make more sense for you to start by figuring out what the purpose of your website is and how customer will use it. That’s front-end. Once you know what the customer needs and how they’ll navigate your page to get it, then you can focus on the back-end and learning the behind-the-scenes action of your website if you’d like.

So what front-end languages should I start with?

Front-end is a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so these are the first languages to be mastered. Many coding languages build on top of these front-end languages, so it’s important to understand these basics before moving on to other web development languages. HTML is used to add text to a page, CSS styles the page, and JavaScript deals with user interaction (such as clicking a button). 

Even if you’re not aiming to become a professional developer, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are probably still the most relevant languages for you! Tasks such as creating email templates, simple web designs, or even a website from a WordPress template all require HTML and CSS skills. 

As for which other languages to learn after mastering these front-end development languages, this will depend on what your end goal is. Do you want to become a developer/engineer? Do you just need coding skills to work with a specific platform or project? This is where research comes in - you'll need to find out which languages are useful for your specific goal! 

If you haven’t already, you should join our free introduction to coding class to gain some initial knowledge, figure out your next steps in your coding journey, and gain some insight from a professional developer who is working in the industry.

Beginning your coding journey

So you’re ready to begin your coding journey, great! It’s time to jump right into the wonderful world of development. You now know why you should learn how to code and which languages you should start with. But the question now is - how can you start your coding journey? There are many ways to do this. You’ll just need to find the method that works best for you. 

1. Use free resources on YouTube

You can find a lot of YouTube channels focusing on teaching viewers how to code entirely for free, such as LearnCode.academy. On channels like this, there are usually videos where someone teaches you the basics of a coding language, and then you can try to reproduce what they did in the video yourself. This learning method doesn’t involve a lot of hands-on practice, but rather just watching and attempting to replicate what the teacher is demonstrating. Keep in mind this teacher may not always be highly qualified, so it’s smart to do a bit of research on the teacher ahead of time! 

2. Join a free coding course online. 

Some platforms offer coding courses online for free, like freeCodeCamp or Codecademy. Usually, these courses offer a mix of lessons and recommended exercises that you can complete at your own pace, often taught by a qualified instructor. These courses frequently have students code directly in the browser, which is not the best practice. There are no deadlines or technical support for courses like these, so make sure your motivation is high so you can ensure you finish them. 

3. Sign up for a paid program (online or in person)

Even though this option isn’t free, paid programs are the best option for those who’d like some more support, hands-on exercises, and motivation throughout their coding experience. In this case, you’d buy a course and have a specialized, highly-qualified instructor teaching you a more complete step-by-step breakdown of a coding language. 

Which option is best for me?

Everyone is different and has their own way of studying. So, this will depend on how you like to learn and also what you’d like to learn! If you are highly motivated, willing to take initiative to practice on your own, and don’t need technical support while you’re learning, then a free resource may work for you. 

However, if you enjoy having extra incentive and motivation while you’re learning something new, then a paid course might be better for you. Like so many people who quit their diet after the first seven days, as time goes by and the tasks start getting more challenging, you may lose the initial thrill of starting something new and start having less and less motivation. A little extra help and motivation never hurt.

Paid courses also offer more structure. Most free resources are not actual courses, so they’re not structured in a way that guides you through your learning process and teaches you things in the right logical order. In coding, practice makes perfect, so you’ll have to go beyond sitting at your desk and watching someone else code. You’ll have to code yourself and gain some hands-on practice. It may be difficult to come up with your own coding exercises to supplement a free course, so maybe having a more structured course that you pay for, with hands-on coding challenges, will be better to help you get your coding practice in

Lastly, if you’re someone who likes to ask questions and receive help during your learning process, a paid resource is probably a better option for you, as well. In coding, it’s very easy to get stuck and have trouble understanding why your code isn’t working. Something as little as a wrongly-placed semicolon can make your whole page stop working. As a beginner, it can be very hard to spot these minor mistakes along with fundamental logical mistakes. There are free help forums online such as Stack Overflow and  MDN but you usually have to wait for at least a few days to get an answer like ‘You forgot a parenthesis there’. As you can imagine, this can be pretty frustrating. 
5/5 - Highly recommended

With a wealth of online coding courses out there, it's hard to know which to trust and which will be most beneficial to a complete beginner! I was looking for a hands-on, fun and ultimately not too overwhelming approach to learning code- SheCodes ticked all the boxes! Hooray.

So I’d like to join a paid course, but how can I find the best one for me?

In short, it depends on what you need and how much you’d like to spend. There are many bootcamps out there - you can do some research to find something that fits your needs (online vs. in person, a teaching methodology and schedule that work for you, etc.). These bootcamps usually have prices anywhere between $7,800 to $21,000, such as General Assembly. This can seem like an arm and a leg, especially if you’re not sure if coding is for you just yet! Does this mean the more expensive, the better? Not necessarily. 

There are many affordable options out there today, as well. These options often still come equipped with desired features like structured lessons, a solid learning methodology, hands-on coding exercises, and technical help if you get stuck. When you’re starting out in the coding world and would like to ease into it, a more affordable option might be exactly what you need. 

What if I work full-time and don’t have time for an intensive program like this? 

Coding courses that are online often have room for flexibility so you can learn how to code even if you have a very busy schedule. You’ll just need to find a program with a workload, structure, and schedule that works for you! 

At SheCodes, we believe flexibility, live tech support, hands-on practice, and structure are essential for a great learning experience, so we’ve carefully created our unique online coding workshops to include these features - at a much cheaper price than the average bootcamp in the industry! 
5/5 - Highly recommended

This was a great introduction to coding. I really liked the way it was broken out into digestible segments that made moving through the material easy and motivating. The course load was very manageable with a full time job and you learn a lot in a short period of time!

5/5 - Highly recommended

I was pretty nervous starting this course. Between working full time and being a mom, I wasn't sure if I'd have enough time. But I felt like the course was broken up in a really digestible way and the lessons were simple enough to grasp in a short amount of time. I'm definitely feeling a lot more confident in my coding skills!

What's Next?

Ready to learn how to code? It's time to start your coding journey!

All that’s next is for you to take the plunge into the world of coding. Now that you know what coding is, why it’s useful, what languages are good to start with, and what learning format would be best for you, go for it! 

Read on to discover how to begin your coding journey.

Start Your Coding Journey

It’s a good idea to start by joining our free class to get more of your coding questions answered and gain a better idea of how you'd like to go about starting your coding journey. You can also jump into a course right away if you’re ready to begin now. Beginning by joining a shorter course (something about 6 months or less) is great at the start so you can jump into coding without too much pressure. You may start learning how to code and decide that this is not something you’d like to pursue, but more likely, we think that once you start coding, you may just become addicted.
5/5 - Highly recommended

This course was beyond amazing. I always thought coding was hard because it looked intimidating, so I always opted out and left it for the "nerds". Now here I am, loving it and repenting from my presumptions. I'M ADDICTED!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Have any questions about starting your coding journey?

Feel free to email us at [email protected] and we'll be happy to help.
Written by Lexi Dillon
Contributed by Daniela Miranda, Matt Delac
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