How to: Code

how to: code

Coding – all the cool kids are doing it…

Actually, with the government deciding that coding will be added as part of the national curriculum in 2015, all the kids will be doing it – cool or otherwise. Think you’re too old to join the coding revolution? You’d be surprised.

It’s never too late to learn a new skills, with a wide range of ways to learn for people of all ages. With this in mind, here’s a quick guide to coding, and our top tips on learning how to code:

What is coding?

In short, code is the language which tells your computer what to do.

Everything from the incredibly witty and well-written copy you’re reading right now, through to the apps you download and the games you play, are all dictated by code.

Think of it this way: without code there would be no internet. Remember that the next time you see your next cat gif.

How many coding languages are there?

In fact, estimates range from hundreds to several thousand, depending on where you look. Each different language is intended for a different purpose, making some more valuable in certain industries and professions than others.

Common languages you may be familiar with include HTML, JavaScript, C# and SQL. If you’ve not heard of them before, you will have encountered all of them at some point without even knowing.

Python, Ruby, the list is practically endless. Don’t believe us? Just look up Ook. You’re welcome…

Why should I learn to code?

Because anyone can do it.

You may be surprised to know that programming and coding isn’t that difficult to get into for beginners. Not only is it a great way to add to your skillset, it could also be the key to finding your next role and being better paid.

Even if you’re happy in your own career path, many people take up coding just to learn something new. In fact, with so many resources available out there to help you get started, there really is no good reason not to learn.

What do I need?

Here’s a quick checklist:

  1. A computer
  2. No… that’s pretty much it

Oh, and the willingness and drive to learn something new. Those too. But other than the above, a good internet connection and a proper tutorial, you really don’t need anything else.

To prove just how easy (not to mention life changing) it can be to get into, here’s an article about a homeless man who learned to code with a little help from his friends.

How do I learn to code?

There are many great ways out there to get into programming. So no matter how busy your schedule is or what your other commitments are, there will be something out there which works for you.

Here are just a few of the ways you could get into coding:

Utilise free resources 

The good thing about developers is, they can be a pretty helpful bunch. That, and they also quite like using the internet, making free resources readily available.

One such site is the education start-up CodeAcademy which runs a number of different initiatives to make coding more accessible for everyone. Programming languages on offer include HTML/CSS, PHP and Python, and their Code Year helped introduce almost 500,000 to coding through a weekly email you could work on in your own time.

Another valuable resource is Code.org, who recently partnered with CodeAcademy for the Hour of Code initiative, which saw a whole host of children, adults and a-list celebrities run their own programs in less than an hour. Barack Obama even got involved, putting an end to that ‘busy schedule’ excuse.

Some other sites we recommend include Khan Academy, Udacity, and Programmr, although there are literally hundreds of others out there. Do a little research and find the right one for you.

Take a class

A little extra incentive to learn can often make all the difference. And by incentive, we mean the realisation that if you’ve spent good money on something, you will probably follow through with it.

There are a number of reputable providers out there which offer courses in coding, most of which are offered online and can be taken at your own pace. Some of the best around include Udemy, considered by many to be the leading marketplace for online learning, We Got Coders, Makers Academy and General Assemb.ly.

Taking a more formal course especially suits those who want some structure added to their learning, and with some studies suggesting that you’re at least twice as likely to finish a paid-for course as you are a free one, it’s definitely an option worth considering. Especially as you’ll end up with an industry recognised accreditation at the end.

View all coding courses now

Apply for an internship

Some people learn best on-the-job. With this in mind, a number of companies offer internships, apprenticeships and junior positions, all of which you could use to build your coding credentials.

The roles on offer don’t necessarily have to be solely dedicated to development. A number of positions now include an element of programming in their day-to-day roles, making coding an essential part of professions ranging from copywriting and marketing, through to database administration and design.

Once you’ve picked up the basics and start to enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll then be able to build on your skills and pursue coding as a career.

Download an app

Undoubtedly the most convenient option, there’s an app for everything these days – even apps for building apps.

There are lots of different options out there aimed at beginners learning the basics of programming, which are both affordable and, surprisingly, quite enjoyable.

If nothing else, it’ll give you something constructive to do on your commute. That, and a temporary feeling of superiority over anyone idly flicking through fake Flappy Birds clones rather than choosing to ‘better themselves’.

Final thoughts

If you’re seriously considering having a crack at coding, don’t keep putting it off.

Once you get started you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be creating and executing your own programs on your computer/smartphone. However, just like learning any language, the key to success can often be summed up in three words:

Keep. At. It.

If you’re persistent and dedicate a little time to pursuing it properly, anyone can learn to code. So don’t leave it to the cool kids.

Find a job