So, you know nothing about programming and want to know where to start? Well, you’re already on the right path if you’re here. Taking the initiative to learn how to code is the first step in achieving your programming goals.
As a self-taught programmer, I remember being very confused about coding when I first started out. I learned how to build a few websites and wanted to learn more. The problem was that I didn’t know anyone that could help me or teach me how to get started.
Luckily for you, you have me! In this article, I am going to break down 6 things you should do if you are first starting out in your coding journey. By doing this, you will have more structure in teaching yourself programming and make actual progress in improving.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
1. Utilize Online Learning Platforms
Online learning platforms like CodeAcademy and freeCodeCamp are specifically aimed at beginners first teaching themselves how to code. You can check out a plethora of great beginner options on these platforms that can take you from no knowledge to beginner pretty quickly! The great news about these options is that they are also free. So there really is no risk in trying them out.
The reason these coding platforms are so great is that they move at a really slow pace and you don’t require you to set up any kind of development environment. You just hop on the website and start learning.
Now, some professional programmers will tell you that these sites are a waste of time because they “hold your hand” and you won’t learn anything. However, I personally believe they are a great place to start for a complete beginner. You will still learn a lot and it will build up your confidence to move on to more challenging coding projects later on.
In 2022, it seems like CodeAcademy has much fewer free options than they used to, however, you can check out their catalog of courses here. freeCodeCamp is a better alternative if you want to be ensured you aren’t spending money. You can check out their resources here.
2. Watch Youtube Videos
Watching and coding along to youtube videos is another easy way to learn how to code when you know nothing. There are a ton of really entertaining and fun programming follow-along videos out on the internet today. Maybe you want to build a pong game? Maybe you want to learn a specific language like Go? Whatever you want to learn, you should be able to find something online and can follow along and code it.
Now, following along to a video and copying someone’s code is not the same as starting your own coding project. Just because you can copy someone else’s code to make a video game, doesn’t mean you have the skills yet to make a video game. In that way, it is very easy for videos to turn into tutorial hell. Where you just watch endless videos and never progress.
However, when you’re first starting out, videos are a great way to start understanding how to code and what coding really is. If you want to check out some other great videos to help you learn how to code, check out these resources.
If you want to try learning how to code in more of an academic setting, but for free, you should check out MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCs are a great way to learn new subjects and there are a ton of them in the world of software engineering. Especially, for those of you that are just starting and know nothing about programming.
Most MOOCs are broken up into specific lessons and then provide homework problems for you to solve. I probably made most of my progress as a beginner programmer with MOOCs so don’t underestimate them!
Here is a Fundamentals of Computing course that taught me a lot. Three more challenging courses that I enjoyed were, Programming Languages A, B, and C. I learned a ton about programming language design with those three courses but it definitely isn’t meant for complete beginners.
P.S. those courses are entirely free, just sign up for a Coursera account and make sure to audit the courses. You should still have access to all the material.
4. Read Books
Although I am a strong advocate of learning by doing with programming, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a good book. Especially one with learning exercises.
Books can be really helpful in understanding new theories and concepts, along with learning elements of a new language and how to code. They are by no means a substitute for hands-on coding practice but are certainly a good place to start when you know nothing about programming.
5. Attend College or A Bootcamp
Obviously, you also have the option to attend a college, university, or a Bootcamp. Although I think it is totally possible to land a job as a web developer without a college or university degree, they are still great options. If you do decide to go down this route, you should certainly have already started coding before you start.
As for Bootcamps, I personally find them to be a huge waste of money. You can very easily get the same quality of learning material at home, for free. Why pay someone $14K USD for something you can teach yourself?
While this is also true for university and college, as I have found amazing free content from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Washington, that little piece of paper does hold value when job searching.
So if you feel like you aren’t making progress teaching yourself or want to make the job search easier, college or university might be a good idea. Although, in my opinion, they are too expensive for the value they provide.
6. Google Like Crazy
Here is a quick bonus tip for you before we wrap up. The best thing you can do when you know nothing about programming and want to know where to start is to google everything. For every little question that pops into your head, try to find an answer for it.
Don’t know what a framework is? Google it. Don’t know what frontend and backend development is? Google it. Little by little, all of the gaps in your knowledge will start to come together and everything will begin to make sense.
At the end of the day, most of our time spent as developers is googling and researching how to do a particular task. So you might as well get used to it now!
Summary: Where To Start If You Know Nothing About Coding
So, if you know nothing about coding and wanted to know where to start, hopefully, these six places help guide you. Through the use of online coding platforms, youtube / udemy videos, MOOCs, books, schooling, and google, you should become a beginner-intermediate developer in no time.
From there, you can start building your own projects, and really take your coding skills to the next level!
In addition, I do have a list of free resources to help you become a web developer, if you’re interested.
How long does programming take? http://norvig.com/21-days.html
Eventually, you will find that you know a lot more than you originally thought and are actually on your way to being a very competent developer who is able to work as a programmer.