Learning to code is probably easier than you think. Especially if you follow this advice from our very own panel of experts...
We asked a panel of experts: what’s your advice for aspiring coders?
Jonathan Hill CEO, 1minus1 1minus1.com
As you learn to code, remember that no matter how good your code gets, no matter how elegant you make it, no matter how well you set it up for the future, that once you are working for a client, you have a business to deliver for. If you get sucked into the detail and forget about that bigger picture, you cannot write the best code for the client. So, be business focused as well as code focused. And finally, do your best to work with more experienced people that can strike this balance.
Lindsey Marat ta Product designer, BuzzFeed buzzfeed.com
There are a ton of online resources for learning to code. But while they’re helpful for getting familiar with vocabulary, syntax and other basics, I always suggest trying to create a simple page or app of your own from scratch. With code, solving problems you’re invested in is the best way to get knowledge to stick. Another thing to keep in mind is that, there are always multiple solutions to the same problem.
Charlot te Jackson Interface engineer, Ansarada & co-organiser, Codebar Sydney lottejackson.com
There’s a wealth of books and online courses, which is a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Learn from developers! We’re fortunate to work in an industry where lots of people are willing to share what they know. Follow and interact with relevant people on Twitter. Attend meet-ups and volunteer at conferences. Then you can chat to people and ask questions. Approach local companies and ask to shadow developers at work. Then, if an internship is what you’re after, you can ask for help. I highly recommend starting your own blog. Writing down what you learn consolidates your understanding of it. Plus, a learner’s perspective is new and valuable to others.
Kevin Main Software developer, iSAMS Independent Ltd isams.com
Chris Sm ith Co-founder, Narrative Industries narrativeindustries.com
You’ll hear a lot of terms like ‘anonymous recursive functions’ but don’t be put off. Advanced techniques and terms will start to make sense as your skills evolve. Read a lot of code by excellent programmers. The usefulness of this can’t be overstated: would you write a novel without reading a few first? Add numerous comments to your code. This is not just for others, but also for your harassed future self who’ll be utterly baffled by some of your code. Always code as if you were part of a team, even if you’re working on your own.
Lily Dart Design director, Department for International Trade lilydart.com
Carter Bailey Web developer carterbailey.com
The times of the most growth in my skills and career have come from a combination of three things. The first has been working on an interesting personal project. The second has been setting goals according to the principles of SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time. And the third has been having a mentor who works professionally with what you’re learning. Too often beginners get stuck, and become disheartened when a mentor could help them.