Learning to Code: From One Digital Newbie to Another

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This time last year, almost to the day, I started my career in the digital marketing industry. I joined Techsys straight out of University, with little to no coding experience under my belt. I was taken on as a Quality Assurer and through this role I have learnt a lot about what goes into building the web platforms that most people take for granted. So this post is for you if you are interested in learning about how the pieces fit together and want to begin learning how to put them together yourself. But first, let me start by sharing what I have learnt about the industry itself.

Digital marketing is a fascinating industry to say the least, full of strategy, innovation and thousands of lines of computer code. Think of every website you’ve ever been on. Look at the one you’re reading this on right now. This screen and the journey you took to get here makes up one small part of what we do… and once you peer behind the curtain that hides how it all fits together, you begin to realize how big and complex the digital media landscape really is.

If there is one thing that I have learnt during my year at Techsys, it’s that it is literally impossible to know everything there is to know about digital media. Not only are there dozens of coding languages, hundreds of frameworks and a thousand different ways to achieve the same objective, the industry is developing, changing and innovating at such a rapid pace that it is nigh impossible to keep up. Unfortunately I had to learn this lesson the hard way. As a newbie, who was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I took it upon myself to learn every coding technique I could in my first month of work. This was much to the amusement and frustration of my colleagues, who graciously answered all my questions, and who let me learn this hard and valuable lesson for myself.

So, as someone who can speak first-hand about the vastness of the coding universe, I am going to give you a few very useful resources that might help you make sense of it all and help you learn to code. They have certainly helped me and I have no doubt they will do the same for you. Put on your thinking cap, grab a strong cup of coffee and get ready to have your mind pummeled.

The first is Code School which is by far the most entertaining site I have come across.They have an interactive portal where you complete challenges and win points for being awesome. They have a range of courses covering all of the fundamentals of web development such as HTML, CSS and Javascript as well as other more challenging languages. The only downside is that after the first few free courses, you have to start paying.

The next is CodeCademy which is completely free. They cover fewer languages but will give you a comprehensive understanding about the fundamentals I mentioned above. They will even help you build your first interactive website from scratch. So if your granny’s knitting business is kicking off in a big way, this is your chance to push her into the 21st century.

And finally we have W3schools which is where you will find the answer to any coding questions you might have. They have endless pages explaining the syntax and functions of many of the coding languages, and it is a resources that many experienced coders still use.

These online resources have helped me more than I care to mention in learning to code (not taking anything away from my work colleagues). As someone who is new to coding, I couldn’t suggest a better place to start. It’s been a year and I am coming close to finishing my first iPhone application. If I can do it, so can you. All it takes is a little bit of perseverance and the right resources, which I have just handed to you.

Hope to see your first application on the iStore soon.

Mike is Techsys’ Digital Strategist. An ex Rhodent filled with ‘gees’, he will strategise your project with a smile.

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