So You Want To Learn To Code… My journey to the Front-End.

If there was ever a skill you could learn that could change your career trajectory, right now knowing how to code is just that. There are currently thousands upon thousands of designer and developer jobs going unfilled and waiting for someone to step up and take them.

This is all great news, but if you are just getting into coding where do you even start?

Believe me when I say that I sympathize with you there. There are almost endless resources online for learning to code and almost as many languages and areas in which to specialize. Should you learn front-end design? Back-end design? How to build mobile apps? Should you focus on PHP or Ruby? The possibilities go on and on.

My recommendation: Find out what you love and become amazing at it.

I created my first website with no code whatsoever. I built a simple guitar playing portfolio using the Wix template platform to help me get more work as a guitarist in Nashville, TN where I currently perform with a Heart tribute band as well as a Deep Purple tribute band. Even though I didn’t know how to code, I realized that I really liked structuring the graphic design and layout of the site. From there I baby-stepped into being able to customize existing WordPress themes for myself and others.

It was at this point that simply customizing templates caused me to hit a wall.

In my music career, I have actually done a good amount of graphic design in the form of designing album covers, promotional posters, and merchandise graphics for shirts and stickers. The new graphic design concepts for the sites in my head began to be stunted by the confines of the templates I was working with. That’s when I knew that I needed to learn to really code so that my designs could come to life the way I envisioned them. I first turned to the very basics. HTML5 and CSS3. If you are new to front-end web design, do not underestimate the extent of the capabilities of just these two languages. With a few hacks and tricks they can provide you with hover effects, drop down menus, and the ability to create fully responsive, mobile-first website that will look great on any device. Once you are feeling more comfortable, add some Javascript and jQuery to that arsenal and you will be able to create almost any visual effect you can thing of.

A few great online resources that helped me learn HTML, CSS, and some Javascript and jQuery are:

Free:

Codacademy.com

Aquent Gymnasium.

Paid:

Lynda.com

So that’s it. I realized that I loved front-end design. It allowed me to take my graphic design skills from designing album covers and merchandise graphics for bands and translate it to functioning sites on the web. I still have so much to learn myself. I am currently working to learn PHP and be able to develop my own WordPress themes from scratch. Anything new will be frustrating at times, but when you start to be able to be creative, you know you are getting the swing of things.

Final tip: Know what questions to ask is everything. If you are trying to create a certain effect think of different ways to describe it and start Googling. Something like “slow hover color change CSS” gives what you are trying to achieve and what language you are trying to achieve it with. Sites like stackoverflow.com can provide great assistance with working out an effect that you are new to. Learn to ask good questions and you will always be learning.

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