Learning how to code can be daunting. There are times when you might be stuck on something, and you experience an overwhelming feeling of self doubt. However I believe programming is one of those skills that anyone can learn, it just takes persistence, practice and patience.
The goal isn’t to be the best hacker in the world, the goal is to stimulate and activate a part of the brain you generally wouldn’t use on a day-to-day basis. Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. Your brain is like a muscle, so it needs exercise to keep it maintain its vitality.
The best way to do that is to learn a new skill. Learning to code is a great way to sharpen the brain, as it involves critical thinking, algorithmic skills and creativity.
The Benefits of Learning to Code
One of the challenges with learning to code is that technology is constantly evolving, and software applications (Apps) are constantly being updating. That means the code you wrote previously may no longer work, and cause an error. As a programmer you’re constantly faced with error messages. The key is not to get upset or frustrated, but view them as clues to help you improve your ability to diagnose and solve problems.
Whether you’re changing careers to become a developer, or you are learning to code simply to improve your brain power, you will experience the following benefits:
1. Improved problem solving
Learning and practicing to write code activates the left side of your brain, which strengthens your sense of logic, and sequential, linear and analytical thinking and mathematical outlook.
When you’re coding you start developing a rationale for your thinking. You look at the bigger problem and understand the sequence of events if you implement Solution A instead of Solution B.
2. Develop your communication and interpersonal skills
There are hundreds of online forums and groups you can join whilst learning to code, to assist your learning and development. Whether you’re a natural introvert or extrovert you have the opportunity to become active members of these communities and work together to solve complex problems.
If you decide to take a career in programming it helps to improve your communication and interpersonal skills, so that you can communicate problems and solutions easily to people that are non technical.
3. Expand your creative thinking
Asking questions around the solution design will prompt you to think innovatively and push you to brainstorm alternative solutions that challenge current best practice.
Whether that’s applying one or multiple programming languages, you are activating your creative genius to think out of the box, and consider the best possible solution and user experience.
4. Sense of achievement
Learning how to code enables you to turn your ideas into something tangible… with just your brain, your fingers and a laptop. That gives you an incredible sense of achievement, which is remarkably empowering when you have been working for hours to fix a bug, or solve a complex problem.
How to get started
If you’re interested in learning how to code, I suggest starting with something simple like HTML and CSS.
- HTML also known as Hyper Text Markup Language is one of the most basic but also very effective coding languages. HTML is predominately used to build the structure of a webpage.
- CSS (Cascade styling sheets) is where all the fun starts to happen, experimenting with different styles to make your webpage look beautiful.
I recommend starting with these two languages to help grasp your understanding in the importance of syntax. Think of syntax as the arrangement of characters and rules to help make your code function the way it’s supposed to. Once you know the basic level of syntax, other programming languages are much easier to learn.
There are heaps of free resources on the web that can get you started.
Here are a few helpful links for HTML and CSS: