Why You Should Teach Yourself (At Least A Little) Coding

 photo by Daria Kobayashi Ritch

photo by Daria Kobayashi Ritch

There was a brief moment in time, circa 1995, that I knew a little bit of HTML. Largely for the purpose of building my GeoCities website devoted to Beanie Babies, because I really knew what was up back then. I had the ability to add those awesome OG gifs, embed MIDI files of single-note renditions of Spice Girls songs, and ensure that all text was all rainbow Comic Sans all the time.

Things have changed a bit in the two decades since. As apps have become an integral part of our lives, catering to every need from driver services to taco delivery to remotely controlling thermostats and catching pocket monsters on the street, the need for increasingly sophisticated coding shows no sign of stopping. But even in the creative sector, in fields you might not even associate with tech, a little behind-the-curtain web savvy can go a long way; the ability to at least tinker on digital fronts can be a huge asset, especially in a startup environment where employees are often asked to wear a bunch of hats. And if you’re an entrepreneur carving out your digital space, even if you’re not designing and coding your site personally, the ability to make small changes on your own will save you countless headaches and dollars.

So what’s a gal to do if she once had the skills to update her MySpace page background like nobody’s business, but customizing templates on Wordpress nowadays might as well be underwater welding? “Digital natives” we are not, but The Internet, overzealous helper that it is, has a whole boatload of options where you can learn for free or on the cheap and no one has to know any different. Check out these resources designed to get even the noobiest of noobs started with HTML and/or CSS:

  • Codeacademy is one of the biggest and most popular platforms out there for learning coding, which isn’t surprising considering it is free. Yep, f-r-e-e. The very first course, “Make a Website,” walks you through building four simple sites using basic fundamentals of HTML5/CSS3, and after that, you can move on to “Make an Interactive Website.”
  • Girl Develop It is a nonprofit org dedicated to providing women of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds with skills to build web and mobile applications. Their vision statement reads “Our vision is to create a network of empowered women who feel confident in their abilities to code and build beautiful web and mobile applications. By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.” Lovely, no? Community member have set up chapters in 53 cities across the country that provide everything from super basic intro classes to WordPress study groups. Join a new girl gang and learn new stuff? Pretty awesome.
  • Treehouse is a super accessible video library of over 1,000 videos on a wide range of web-design topics, as well as other skills like app development and Ruby on Rails; subscribers will go through the process of building their own website with their newly acquired skills. Sign up for a free 7-day trial and if you love it, a subscription is $25 a month or $250 for the year.
  • Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, Udacity, founded by a former instructor of free online courses from Stanford, offers what they call a “Nanodegree” in front-end web development. This particular course generally takes six months and is offered on a subscription basis, which is $200 a month.

...and in case you’re still a lil intimidated by the whole thing, there are a ton of free kids’ games out there with which you can get your feet wet. Seriously. It’s a great way to get started if any of the above is still a little scary-sounding. Team up with a badass little girl in your life and you all can jump in it together.

-Deena Drewis

This article was originally published on December 21, 2016 and has since been updated.