Why only learning code sets you up to fail

Learning to code is a gateway to exciting creative opportunities, not to mention helping you earn more money and respect in your career. But the pathway towards coding mastery is not always an easy one. And it's not unusual to reach a point where it seems like you're… stuck.

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You've watched a ton of YouTube videos and followed a whole heap of online tutorials. But while you've accumulated a lot of information about coding, you still don't feel like a coder. There's so much you don't understand, and when your code isn't working, you don't really know how to fix it in a systematic way.

You worry that you're not good enough at maths. That it's a left-brain, right-brain kind of thing. Or you're just not as clever as other people.

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Well, don't worry; you're not alone. Almost everybody who learns to code goes through this. You reach a point when it feels like it's just too difficult, you don't have enough time, that you'll never keep up with the latest developments.

And it's fine to have a rant every now and again. But if this keeps happening, then maybe you need to look at coding in a different way.

Focus on the fun

Many people go wrong because they focus too much on the 'how' (the technical details of how code works) and less on the 'why' (what you want to use code to create).

Remember when you were a child and wanted to paint a picture of your family? You didn't need to spend months carefully studying technique. You just dived in and started painting.

Unless you were a prodigy, your painting was, of course, rubbish. But you enjoyed creating it. Your parents told you it was great and pinned it to the fridge. And as you kept painting new things – flowers, trees, that dead bird the cat dragged in – your technique improved over time.

So why not approach coding like that? Rather than starting with the code itself, start by thinking of a cool, fun digital project. Then work backwards from there, dipping into as much technical knowledge that you need to create it.

That way, you'll be a lot more motivated to learn than just mindlessly following tutorials with no obvious end goal in sight.

studio bggy (Lily Fielding and Quintin Radford) - Lily and Quintin met through the SuperHi community and after completing coding courses (including the popular Foundation HTML, CSS +Javascript), the pair teamed up to form studio bggy.

Focus your learning

Another reason that it can be difficult to find your way with coding is that the lessons you're following are too general and broad. Yes, it's understandable that you want to learn the fundamentals of every coding language and library, but honestly, you don't have to.

In fact, when we speak to successful web developers, even some famous ones (who shall remain nameless), you'll often find they have no idea about a lot of areas of coding, besides the specific niches they've decided to specialise in.

It's similar to the design and illustration software you use. Could you prove that you're familiar with every single tool and feature it contains? Most creatives could not. Because whether we're designing a poster, crafting a digital illustration or masterminding an app interface, we only use the tools in, say, Photoshop that we need for the job and ignore the rest. This means many of its available features pass us by – and that's absolutely fine. Coding is much the same.

Stark Studio (Bethany Grace) - Bethany joined SuperHi three years ago and has completed courses such as Foundation HTML, CSS + Javascript, WordPress and Page Transitions.

Find a course provider that 'gets you'

Here's one problem with online tutorials and YouTube videos. However accurate the information they provide (and that itself is sometimes in question), they're usually aiming to be all things to all people in order to get maximum clicks.

But if you really want to steer your coding education in a productive direction, that's only going to get you so far. If you really want to progress quickly and not waste your time going down blind alleys, it's worth finding a structured course provider that gets where you're coming from and what you want to achieve.

Yes, it might feel weird to pay for training when so much is available for free. But the financial rewards of doing so, in terms of increased earnings and opportunities, make this is a sound investment in your career. Not to mention the reduction in stress, from no longer tearing your hair out over unfocused and unproductive learning.

Alexandra St-Louis joined SuperHi in 2019. This is their final project from the Visual Design + Branding course.

The SuperHi way

Need a recommendation? We're big fans of SuperHi, an education platform that specialises in teaching coding, design and project management skills to people working in the creative industries.

They're all about teaching creative people the skills they need to get ahead, and for that reason, they have a great deal of success in getting students where they want to be.

SuperHi offers a range of courses across design, code and project management, so you'll be able to focus on the precise areas you need to develop, or with a SuperHi Unlimited membership you can take as many courses as you like. And you won't be just studying alone: you'll be joining a vibrant and supportive community spread over 90 countries and across 16 time zones, who consistently share work and ideas, job opportunities and career advice.

Alessandro Amato is a developer and designer who joined SuperHi in 2019. He built this website for an art director, using knowledge he learnt from courses such as Foundation HTML, CSS + Javascript, Javascript for Designers and Animation for the Web.

You won't just be blindly accumulating knowledge for the sake of it, either. Your prime focus will be on developing the kind of fun and fulfilling projects that keep you motivated and provide you with portfolio pieces to show prospective clients and employers.

Want a taste of the kind of websites that SuperHi's students create? We've featured some of them on this page, and to see more, check out their Hall of Fame. The brilliant work showcased here highlights just how easy it is to make glorious digital stuff when you take the right approach.

Best of all, a SuperHi Unlimited membership gives you the ultimate creative freedom to forge your own path by exploring all the different courses, dipping in and experimenting at will. You get access to over 20 courses across design, code and project management and extra member benefits, too. Get started here.

Charles De Mount has taken several SuperHi courses including Foundation HTML, CSS + Javascript, Shopify Theme Development, Command Line for Creatives and Visual Design + Branding.

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