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I want to code! Where do I start?

I’ve never done anything whatsoever related to coding or web development. I’m basically totally clueless. But I am interested in learning it, so…where do I start? Can you recommend the best sites/books/etc for a beginner that would be relatively easy to understand? And how long would you guess it would take for me to go from clueless to intermediate or even expert?

Thanks!
Clueless to Expert

Dear Clueless to Expert,

I am so excited to hear that you want to learn more about coding and web development. As I like to say, the internet is the future, so the more you learn the more empowered you are going to be!

To answer your second question first, it’s hard to set timelines for things like how long it takes to go from beginner to expert coder. That necessitates lots of discussion about what it means to be a beginner vs. an expert, which totally depends on what skills you are talking about and their application.

That said, it is possible to learn these skills on your own, and it is possible to go from knowing nothing to being pretty good at a few of them within a few months or a few (short) years of dedicated effort.

I recommend that you start by getting really good at HTML and CSS. Once you start getting into coding there are many different paths you can take, but they all required a solid knowledge of HTML and CSS.
To get started:

  • Familiarize yourself with what HTML & CSS are.
  • Start memorizing all of the HTML and HTML5 tags and their functions. Then rinse, and repeat the process with CSS.
  • NetTuts+ has an awesome overview of all things HTML & CSS in their Web Development from Scratch series.
  • Interactive tutorials can be fun, I recommend taking a look at Codecademy’s Web Fundamentals Track.
  • Since HTML5 is all the rage, you can take a deeper dive on that one.
  • Start building!! Pick a project (like making your own website) and get ‘er done.
  • If you hit a wall, go to the Google! We promise that you are not the first person to encounter the problem. StackOverflow is another great resource for getting your coding questions answered.
  • Remember, nothing you make at first is going to be perfect, but with some elbow grease you will absolutely get there!

We here at Skillcrush are also working on an HTML & CSS tutorial, and will let you know as soon as it is out!

Happy coding!

Yours,
Ada

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3 comments

  1. While the above is good for getting into web development specifically, to really learn how to think about programming, I suggest starting with this book: http://www.htdp.org/. It’s completely free, designed for newcomers, and teaches you to think like a programmer. Also, Python is another good first language and has good resources. If I could go back, I’d learn Scheme first; it’s a pure, simple language so you learn programming concepts much more easily.

    • Adda at Skillcrush Replied

      Thanks for these suggestions, they are always appreciated :) You are absolutely right that a big thing to learn is the conceptual underpinnings of programming.

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