July 9, 2016 by Ed Kennedy
From slick Shopify websites to fun iOS and Android apps, to websites that have a gorgeous visual flair and design you’d love your online brand to have – you know coding is how to get it done. Yet, by very virtue of the term ‘coding’ learning to code can sound pretty daunting.
Rather than presenting itself as a straightforward and transactional process just like a college degree where you’ll learn first-year subjects, second-year subjects, and then go on to learn the harder content in your third (and fourth) years, coding can conjure up mental images of those World War 2 spying and NASA launching rockets into orbit.
Spy ingenuity and space exploration may provide remarkable showings of human ability, but this image of coding can be confronting for a blogger or eCommerce store owner sitting at home and thinking about how they can grow their enterprise.
Accordingly, often asking ‘where do I start coding? results in very complex answers. Let’s point you in the right direction with a plain language outline of your options
These three programming languages are the ‘holy trinity’ of entry-level coding and web design. Accordingly, they are an excellent starting point for a new coder – and by virtue of all having a relationship with each other in how they are used and operate – learning all 3 means just like someone who has learned Spanish is often able to communicate in Italian, all 3 gives you a fundamental grounding in coding and ability to use each language by itself or together as a whole.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
For many websites this is step 1. If you imagine a theatre set up for a performance, HTML is the walls and the doors and windows. It sets the stage, and dictates what content shall feature. This means how many pages your website will have, what the design structure of the website shall look like, for example will you have your name and logo at the top of the website or just your name?
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
Cascading Style Sheets is step 2. It’s the content that instructs the website to show certain colours, fonts, and other elements of design that together make up a stylish and attractive website. You use CSS once you’ve setup your HTML.
Remember the decision you made about putting your name or logo at the top of the website? CSS shall let you select what color you want your name to appear in, and also what colours the overall website will have (like how famed English football team Manchester United will always appear in Red and White).
Essentially, though you can do a serviceable static website with just HTML and CSS it would be like a pretty painting in the art gallery – attractive certainly, but not ideal if you wish to see a play.
Make no mistake, they are referred to as such – if you apply for a job in coding you’d certainly want to list those two under coding languages – but in terms of what they actually do, HTML and CSS is in the age of interactive websites and smartphone apps closer to design language than code.
The Bottom Line
How long this’ll take varies – as like playing basketball it takes just a few tries to get a shot in, yet many more to get drafted into the NBA – but maintain momentum, be OK when you make mistakes, and keep pushing forward. Before too long you’ll be writing code like Shakespeare did sonnets. Good luck!
Know how to code now ready to put your knowledge into practice? Read Part 2 to learn how!
Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via email@example.com on Skype or LinkedIn.