Simple courses to becoming a better web developer

jackLyons Life, Web Development Tags: , ,

In this post I have detailed some of my favourite tools that have helped me to learn the necessary skills to become a full-stack web developer.

Learning to code is literally just like learning another language and therefore should be treated like one. I remember when I lived in Austria and was learning German for the first time: I would be walking down the street, quietly eavesdropping on every little conversation. Whenever I’d hear a new word or phrase, I would be quick to flip out my iPhone and search it in my dictionary. In the beginning this happened at least 20 times a day, at least!

It drove me nuts! And it was exhausting! You’ve really got to absorb this foreign syntax in a structured manner otherwise you end up frantically piecemealing your education, which can be really, really draining.

It can be quite debilitating at times because you have to literally stop everything you’re doing to figure out how a particular word fits into the overall sentence. The funny thing is that this same principle applies when learning a programming language,  which is why it is so important to structure your education from the beginning!

This is how it feels to be a beginner!

When I began trying to learn JavaScript myself, I would constantly find these little intricate bits of text: integers, dollar signs, variable’s, functions, loops and arrays… They’re scattered all over the place! Because everything was so foreign to me in the beginning, I found myself googling the stupidest of questions:

“what does the squiggly line in JavaScript do? 

“What does the comma do?”

“What’s the difference between a while loop and a do-while loop?”

… and so on and so forth… HEADSLAP!

I was constantly cramming my brain with all this new information  with no real understanding of what it can actually do in the real world. Everything just got so damn complex so damn quickly; I constantly found myself needing to take a step back and going back to basics. I don’t know about you, but in order to truly understand a new concept there really needs to be a strong “why” behind it. It’s up to educators to explain in clear English exactly why this piece of syntax is important and exactly how it can be used in the real world.

After all the struggles trying to teach myself over the past six or more months, and after trawling the web constantly looking for the best tools and the best classes, I have now come up with this little list of my 5 favourite tools to help you learn how to become a web developer.

1. Udemy’s Web Developers Bootcamp

This bootcamp has to be of the most comprehensive web development courses on the internet right now. It will teach you how built beautiful sites with Bootstrap, add in functionality with JavaScript and write back end code with Node.js all in a series of short, sharp, no BS video modules.

As a somewhat n00b who had struggled for months trying to teach myself I found that this course really helped me brush off the cobwebs, unlearn my self-taught bad habits and gain a solid understanding of the true fundamentals of web development. It has helped me see why it is important to understand and solve JavaScript problems and how they apply to the real world with straightforward explanations and fun exercises.

You’ll be making super simple apps that are actually cool and relevant (check out my portfolio to see what I mean) all within a matter of hours. I seriously could not recommend it any higher. Check it out and let me know what you think 🙂

The Web Developers Bootcamp
The Web Developer Bootcamp.
The only course you need to learn web development – HTML, CSS, JS, Node, and More!


2. Code Wars

CodeWars is a cool online platform built to help build your ninja coding skills and share your results with the world. You can challenge yourself with a huge variety of problems ranging from pure fundamental exercises to super complex problems reserved only for those with jedi like coding skills.

I am currently ranking in at level 7 and find it great to jump online and just attack a new problem in the morning before work. If I can’t get it done before I have to leave the house then I generally end up obsessing over it allllllll day until I get home and jump back online to crush it!

It’s a great feeling to take on little bite sized problems that are right at my level. That’s why I recommend CodeWars for anyone just starting out and wanting to learn how to program properly. Oh, and I should mention that it is available for pretty much all the popular programming languages out there which is a huge bonus!

3. A Smarter Way to Learn Web Development

The Smarter Way to Learn series are a collection of super simple books written by Mark Myers. There are three books to choose from which include HTML and CSS, JavaScript and jQuery. At the time of writing I have nearly finished the jQuery JavaScript books and even think I will buy the HTML and CSS book just to brush up on the more intermediate and advanced concepts at the end of the book.

I bought it on my kindle and found it really easy to read. Myers structures the chapters quite nicely, covering all of JavaScript’s little bit’s and pieces, and at the end of each chapter he directs you to his website where you are quizzed on the chapter. Each quiz has 20 questions and therefore really allows you to learn through focused repetition.

A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript is a great tool for learning correct syntax, however it doesn’t really help you “build” anything. But at the end of the day I really do believe that this book is an important part in the journey to understanding the JavaScript language, especially when it comes to writing and reading JavaScript. Like learning a new language, this book is your prerequisite Grammar 101.

4. Free Code Camp

I’m  currently undertaking a front end developer course over at Free Code Camp,  a site that helps you learn to code and help built projects for non-profit organizations. It’s an awesome concept, and in the beginning, I really did feel like love at first sight. I finally felt like I had found a place to “begin” my journey into the world of web development. There’s a crazy big community full of coders all ready to help at the click of a button and an incredible course curriculum just waiting for you, anytime, anywhere. It’s a beautiful concept.

Even still, it wasn’t long until I hit a major roadblock and started to question everything, again!

Free Code Camp

I started out strong, readily working through the course material, building my confidence with the simple little exercises. After completing all the introductory waypoints within only a week or so I was then able to advance out of camp and into the wild, onto the real projects!

That’s where the frustration began (or begins I should say.. Good luck to all those campers yet to leave the camp!) While I did do all the required introductory coursework, what I didn’t do was brace my brain for the brutal barrage that is: programming.

One of the biggest struggles I had, and still have, is understanding the why behind it all. In Free Code Camp you’re given all these challenges: you learn how to push arrays, arrange numbers, slice strings and multiply variables but it was never clear to me how, when and why I would want to know these things. I truly felt paralyzed,

Again, that’s why I believe it is super important to supplement this education with some other tools, especially a course like the Web Developers Bootcamp, which I mentioned earlier. There, you will get to actually make cool stuff and learn the JS logic along the way.

Anyway, at the end of the day, and in combination with the other two, I feel like Free Code Camp is an absolutely incredible tool, capable of taking you from zero to hero easily within 12 months. The thing is, and this is something I need to constantly remind myself, is that it is SOOOOO easy to get overwhelmed and just wanna give up. That’s why you need to take BABY STEPS.

No one said programming was easy and in my opinion, the only way to really succeed is to be persistent. The only thing I should mention is that, with all the noise out there from how to tutorials to free youtube courses, you really have to diligent in selecting the right courses for your learning style.

I am a practical thinker who always wants to know why something is the way it is, which means that I really have benefited from my web developers bootcamp. The best part about the bootcamp is that you gain access to an awesome online community and chat room where you can ask anything at any time!

There are millions of tools out there, so if you have any other good suggestions then please leave a comment below.



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