Wanting to learn how to code? Where you should start

Despite the rapidly advancing technologies offered by platforms such as ChatGPT, learning to code is still relevant and useful. Having some coding experience radically enhances your resume and employability. From developing websites and mobile apps to designing video games and automating tasks, coding skills are in high demand. 

Learning how to code is an important life skill that also boosts logical thinking, problem-solving skills and creativity.  For those wanting to gain this tech skill, it can be difficult to know where to start. With so many programming languages, tools and resources available, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of information. The good news is that learning to code is not as difficult as it may seem; with the right approach and resources, anyone can learn to code.

Understand the basics of how to code

The first step in learning how to code is understanding the basics. Firstly, it’s important to know the difference between coding and programming. While these terms are often used interchangeably, coding refers to the act of writing instructions in a specific language, while programming refers to the broader process of creating software.

Coders write instructions for a computer to follow in order to accomplish a specific task. These instructions are written using a specific language, such as Python or JavaScript. Two important aspects of coding are decomposition and algorithms. 

A key skill for any programmer, decomposition involves breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable parts. This makes it easier to understand and tackle a complex set of instructions. Another key skill is understanding how algorithms work and how to create them.

Choose a programming language

There are a number of different coding languages, each with their own strengths and applications. For those new to coding, it’s a good idea to choose a language that aligns with your goals and interests. For example, if you’re interested in developing mobile applications, you might want to start with Java or Swift. If you’re interested in data analysis, you might want to start with Python.

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of some of the top programming languages and examples of popular applications that have been built using this language:


        Pros Cons Examples
Python          Easy to learn, versatile, great for data analysis and machine learning Can be slow for certain tasks Instagram, Dropbox, Spotify
Java Highly portable, widely used for enterprise applications Can be verbose and have a steep learning curve Android apps, LinkedIn, Amazon Web Services
Java Script                          Used for front-end and back-end web development, can be executed in web browsers Can be prone to security vulnerabilities Gmail, Airbnb, Netflix
C++ Fast and efficient, widely used in gaming and high-performance computing Can be difficult to learn and prone to memory errors Adobe Systems, Microsoft Office, Amazon
Swift Designed for iOS and macOS development, easy to read and write Limited to Apple platforms Airbnb, LinkedIn
Ruby Easy to read and write, used for web development and scripting Can be slow compared to other languages Airbnb, Shopify
PHP Widely used for web development, easy to integrate with HTML Can be prone to security vulnerabilities and performance issues Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress


Pick a resource to learn how to code

Once you’ve decided on a programming language, it’s time to pick a learning resource. There are many online resources available, such as Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp and Udemy to name a few. These resources offer structured courses that guide you through the basics of coding. You can also find a variety of books and tutorials online that can help you learn how to code.

Let’s compare the different options:

1) Online Courses:

Online courses are a popular way to learn how to code. These courses are usually available on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, Codecademy and edX. They typically offer step-by-step lessons with videos, assignments and quizzes.


  • Structured curriculum
  • Interactive learning experience
  • Easy access to online community and support


  • Can be expensive
  • Quality varies based on the platform and instructor
  • Limited opportunities for personalised learning


2) Books:

Books have been a traditional way of learning how to code, and many developers still use them today. There are a variety of coding books available, from beginner-friendly to advanced topics.


  • Comprehensive and detailed explanations
  • Ability to learn at your own pace
  • Good for reference and offline learning


  • Can be difficult to follow for beginners
  • Lack of interactive support and feedback
  • Limited opportunities for practice
  • May quickly become outdated


3) Video Tutorials:

Video tutorials are another popular way to learn how to code. Many YouTube channels and websites offer free coding tutorials that are easy to follow.


  • Interactive learning experience
  • Ability to see and hear explanations
  • Many tutorials available for free


  • Quality can vary based on the creator
  • Limited opportunities for personalised learning
  • Difficulty in finding a cohesive learning plan


4) Bootcamps:

Bootcamps are intensive coding programs that teach students coding skills over a shorter period of time, usually ranging from a few weeks to a few months. They often have a more practical focus and many offer job placement assistance.


  • Immersive and intensive learning experience
  • Hands-on experience with real-world projects
  • Opportunities for networking and career advancement


  • Can be expensive
  • Intense and demanding schedule
  • May not be suitable for those who prefer a self-paced learning environment

The best approach for you will depend on your learning style, budget and goals. We recommend trying out different options and finding the one that works best for you.

Practice practice practice

It’s important to practise coding regularly to build your skills. Set aside time each day or week to work on coding exercises or personal projects. Start with simple projects and gradually increase the complexity as you gain more experience.

One of the best ways to practise coding is by working on small projects. These help you to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. They also allow you to apply what you have learned in a practical context. Building projects will not only help you to become a better programmer but will also help you to create a portfolio that showcases your skills to potential employers.

As you work on small projects, you’ll encounter new challenges that will help you grow as a programmer. You’ll learn how to debug code, read documentation and collaborate with others. Moreover, you will learn how to use new programming tools and libraries, which will help you to become a more versatile coder.

Learning to code can be a rewarding and valuable experience, regardless of your background or career aspirations. With the right mindset and resources, anyone can start learning to code today.


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