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9 (Mostly Free!) Resources That Will Help You Learn How to Code

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Question: I want to learn how to code. I could probably use the skills for projects at work, and I might also want to try create something on the side. Which resources can help me learn code on my own?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). Founded by Scott Gerber, the YEC is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

W3Schools Work Well!

“I think W3Schools is a great place to start because they have free, easy-to-follow tutorials that are quite comprehensive. I often used these tutorials in my Computer Science course in University because they were easier to follow than the textbook. They also offer $95 certificate programs in the most popular web topics.”

- Natalie MacNeil | Emmy Award Winning Producer & Entrepreneur, She Takes on the World

Social Media to the Rescue

“When I am working on websites, I generally keep W3Schools open, because it is just such a fantastic resource for HTML and other related tutorials. But if something happens and I still can’t figure out my coding issue, I actually ask my Twitter network to help…and they do!”

Learn With Lynda.com

“Learning to code is a challenging and time consuming task, so I highly recommend that you first check to see if that’s the only way for you to accomplish your goals. If you feel that its the only answer, I recommend Lynda.com. For about $25 a month, you can access a variety of training videos.”

Fend Off Overwhelm With Feel-Good Training

“Learning to code can be a daunting thing, so it’s best to seek out friendly, non-intimidating training to ensure you follow through. The Girl’s Guide to Web Design is a great place to start: it’s an online course that teaches you to ditch your fear of code, unleash your inner designer and create awe-inspiring WordPress sites with HTML, CSS and a dash of PHP.”

Open Source Is Free to Learn

“Go open source, not primarily because it’s free, but because it usually comes with enthusiastic community members who write detailed documentation and best practices about their code. In the best cases, they walk you through implementation step-by-step. Look for platforms that have withstood the test of time and are constantly innovating; they will be a good foundation and learning space for you.”

- Annie Wang | Co-founder, Chief Product Officer, Creative Director, Her Campus Media

Try Tuts Plus and Headway

“The Tuts Plus network covers the coding and design aspect of websites. There are tutorials suitable for beginners and the more advanced topics, and there’s a great community around most of their sites too. Another option is the Headway theme for WordPress which requires minimal coding and has a drag-and-drop interface — it’s my favorite theme by far.”

O’Reilly Books Are My Secret Sauce

“I’m not a great coder, but I know enough to fix minor problems with my own sites and projects. That’s because of the sheer number of O’Reilly tech books I have in my office. They’re excellent resources for even rudimentary coding.”

Trade Resources With Coders

“Trading works very well in the online industry when you need something outside of your skillset. I’ve traded strategy for development many times when I couldn’t afford to redo my website or add Facebook applications. Create a contract for it, just like any client, so you don’t ruin a friendship or possible partnership. But if you want to learn, Don’t Fear the Internet is a great resource.”

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  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but anyone who recommends w3schools is not a credible source of information. See w3fools.com

    • http://kontrary.com/ Rebecca Thorman

      Unfortunately, they rank 1st when you search for stuff! It’s a bummer.

  • Anonymous

    No mention of Codeacademy (http://www.codecademy.com) or Treehouse (http://teamtreehouse.com/)? These are the two most prominent — and free — online learning tools for teaching yourself to code that I’ve seen. The other resources are decent as well, but I would start with the two sites above if I were learning to code (and also pick up some O’Reilly books for reference).

    • http://kontrary.com/ Rebecca Thorman

      Agreed! I’ve used both Codecademy and Treehouse, along with Tuts Plus and Head First O’Reilley books. That and just plain good old-fashioned tinkering. :)

  • Jrandom42

    Given enough time, and the right motivations and mindset, anyone can learn how to code. Not many can learn to code efficiently, cleanly, and clearly, intetgrating all that is necessary to fit in with software engineerning methodology.

    Have spent far too much time cleaning up code from self-taught “wunderkinds” who didn’t learn how to code clearly and concisely, who never provided decent comments, or how totally ignored basic software engineering to “do things their way”, much to the detriment of those who had to debug, update and maintain their code.

    To all those would-be coders out there, Get, read and live by “Code Complete” by Steve McConnell. If youi don’t major in software engineering and want to make a living as a programmer/developer/software engineer, this is a must-have reference.

    Your project manager/lead engineer will be grateful you did.