Hey, I'm Hayley Elsaesser and I'm a fashion designer based in Toronto! I thought I'd take Juno's part-time Live Online Web Development course to learn something new while staying at home during the pandemic, and also to have more agency when I make updates and tweaks to my brand's website. The course was a blast! As expected, I learned the ropes of HTML, CSS, and responsive design - but I also learned some things that I didn't expect about coding, tech, and myself as a learner. Here are some of them:
Web accessibility is a must
Web accessibility is so important, there are even people who do this as their entire job! With the huge role that the internet plays in our daily lives, it’s important for everyone to be able to access it properly. In each learning module, Juno emphasized the importance of web accessibility and different ways to make a website accessible such as alt text, relative fonts, and other integrations. An added bonus is that web accessibility also helps boost your website's SEO (search engine optimization)!
CSS colours are fun
I learned that everyone has a favourite CSS colour that they always return to when playing around with code - mine's orchid, or #da70d6. Being able to play around with colours made realize how coding could be such a fun career for creatives like me! Also, as a self-proclaimed nerd, I'm easily entertained by nerdy things. There are some really funny CSS colour code names that spell words like #B000B5 and #coff33, because why not? See more here! There's also a very special colour called Rebecca Purple, named after the daughter of CSS pioneer Eric Meyer after she sadly passed away.
Learning as an adult is different
When we’re young, we're used to learning new things all the time. We work on, develop, and hone our skills. But as we get deeper into adulthood, we don’t learn as many new and/or challenging skills - maybe because we often become an expert at our job, keep the same hobbies, and find a routine. Sometimes this can make it hard for adults to embark on a journey to learn new things, because when we experience confusion, we frequently give up.
However, it’s when you push past the point of confusion that important learning happens. While learning to code at Juno, I had many points of confusion that would have normally discouraged me, especially if I was learning on my own. However, with the amazing resources and teaching that the course, instructor, and mentors offered, I was able to carry on with confidence and really gain some new skills!
You can level up your coding skills with games
Why not have fun and learn all at once? There are lots of fun free games online that can help you learn and practice coding! Some examples are:
Coding can be cute!
I like keeping my workspace fun, which doesn't just mean my deskspace, but also what I'm working with onscreen! One of my favourite resources that I'll continue to use is placekitten.com, an amazing website that allows you to generate images of kittens in different dimensions to act as placeholders when building a website. Also, I love how creative web development can be, and how you can express yourself and your style in fun little ways. I customized my Visual Studio Code, the program we used to build our websites, into very Hayley candy colours:
You don’t need to remember everything
One of the most intimidating things for me when I was beginning the course was the idea of having to remember so many different combinations of characters and symbols - it seemed impossible. Turns out it is impossible, unless you’re a super genius or cyborg! Luckily, there are add-ons like Emmet, an essential toolkit for web developers that generates specific snippets of code from shortcut abbreviations. Our instructor, Shang, also told us that Googling, copying, and pasting are still things she does frequently, and that it's totally normal. You’ll never be expected to know everything all the time, and learning is a lifelong journey for everyone!
The page inspector will be your best friend
The page inspector is an amazing dev tool that you can use to identify issues or examine aspects in your own code, as well as other websites - kind of like an ingredients list. A super fun feature is that you can edit the code on existing websites, so you can prank your friends by changing things like news headings and Twitter posts, and sending them screenshots!
You can learn to build a website from scratch in 8 weeks!
To someone new to the world of coding, this sounds absolutely obscene, but it’s true. We actually built a webpage in our first week! Throughout the course we got to see our work come to life before our eyes, and the change each little adjustment would make. Something incredibly exciting I learned is that many things are possible with coding, like drop shadows on images, that previously I had used Photoshop for.
Each class, we learned or developed a new skill that made up the building blocks of websites, and eventually we assembled them all together to create our final project. For mine, I decided to implement elements of my brand and customize it to make it a more realistic example of how I'd use my new skills in the future!
My Main Takeaway?
Overall, the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s never too late to learn a new skill and get outside of your comfort zone. It's also important to find the right people to help you on your journey. I was nervous to take the course at first, but the community and content at Juno was so welcoming and fun, all while being incredibly informative! Coders are super creative people who love to have fun and customize, so there are tons of cool things to uncover and experiment with while learning.
If you're curious about code, Juno holds free Coding 101 workshops every month that are beginner-friendly! They're a great way to get to know the community and see if coding may be your next favourite thing. Check out the workshops here.