A Unicorn’s Library

One of the first things you might realise when you start learning to code is the sheer volume of resources online. From paid learning sites like Treehouse and Udacity, free resources such as Code Academy and community driven sites like Stack Overflow, knowing where to look can be quite confusing. And to be honest, there isn’t really a one site fits all solution to your coding needs.

Each site has its benefits and its downfalls and by knowing where to look you’ll save yourself a ton of time and energy you could be better spending on making those tasty micro-interactions extra slick. Here I’ll share some of the resources that are helping me on my journey to become a better developer.

Treehouse is where I spent a lot of time over the first 6 months of learning code. Guided video tutorials with experts who explain things clearly with follow up tests and quizzes to make sure you retain what you are learning. There’s even an online code editor so you can code along with the videos. You also get access to a large community of other developers at different levels, who love to help out newbies. It’s not just web development too, the learning tracks you can follow range from basic HTML to design principles, Javascript & Jquery to iOS development.

Great if you want to learn something from start to finish, dip your toes in something new or get a much more advanced understanding of something you have the basics of.

Not great if you want to learn for free.

CodePen is an online community where users can upload snippets of HTML, CSS and Javascript. The website works as an online code editor and the output displays right in your browser. It’s one of the largest online coding communities and everything is open-source, meaning you can take it and use it in your own projects or even client work.

Great ifyou want to get some inspiration and be amazed at what you can create with code. All the code you need is shared so you can take anything and use it in a project straight away.

Not great if your client asked for ‘eye-catching buttons’ and you gave them this.

Ok, you’ve got a pretty specific problem and you’ve been banging your head against the table, StackOverflow is your friend. Chances are someone else has been in the same position and has popped the question to the StackOverflow community. With over 4,000,000 users there’s a good chance that somebody knows the answer to your woes. The site works as a sort of questions and answers page, with the ability for answers to be voted on, meaning the right answer kinda floats to the top. This is always a good place to start, even if you don’t get your exact answer, you’ll probably learn enough to start searching for some other keywords you wouldn’t have thought of before.

Great if you are stuck in a rut and don’t know what the next step is, or what exactly you should be looking for.

Not great if you take anything you read on the site as fact, you will still need to do more research, test the solutions and make the right choices for your project.

Although I didn’t spend that much time on Codeacademy (because I was getting a similar experience on Treehouse) I can say that the small bit of learning I did was very intuitive and well planned out for beginners. There are 12 different programming languages you can learn and if you pay for the pro option you can get live help from advisors. One great feature is you won’t be able to progress until your code is correct, forcing you to make sure everything is perfect before moving ahead.

Great if you are right at the beginning of your coding journey. This clean and interactive way of learning gives you everything you need to start making basic but solid websites in no time, as well as the core fundamentals of web development. It’s also free which is a massive bonus.

Not great if you are a bit more experienced and have a need for a specific solution or topic.

Over time I have found a workflow that suits me and find myself using certain sites more than others. If you haven’t given any of these sites a look I’d recommend taking a minute to familiarise yourself and see if they can work for you too.

George Rowson - Front End Developer/Designer

After finishing his Graphic Design degree, George took a slight tangent and joined the Ambition team as a Front-end Developer. In his spare time he is starting an online magazine called Peek Journal, which shares the work of extraordinary creatives from all over the globe. He enjoys coming up with new ideas and always has a side project on the go.

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