Codecademy for UX Dummies

My Background in HTML

I learned HTML basics the first time in high school in the crazy-basic class, Intro to Web Design, and then again briefly in college in Writing for PR, and I dabbled in it over the years. Back in 2009, I took all three levels of Introduction to Web Design at our local community college and finally started to absorb what all those silly tags <> and symbols #* do for websites. By the end of the third course I had a finished website built in Dream Weaver for an event called, Lunch With an Author. I also built several sites using WordPress themes that required very little poking around in code and CSS. I knew enough to get by, but not enough to have the insight and confidence to build the kind of websites that we build at Little Wing Marketing, websites that achieve results.

My professional background has been primarily in physical marketing, media relations and graphic design, so there was little need to be a know-it-all when it came to coding and programming. But now…

In the past 6 months, I’ve been submerging myself with all things UX (User Experience) and learning about the many ways in which we can incorporate the user into every step in the the design and development of a product. In the website business, I want to be able to eat my own dog food, so to speak, so I figured it was time to move past knowing “that bit I learned back when” to some useful, practical knowledge.

So my HTML and CSS skills needing some brushing up…

Ben, told me about Codecademy and recommended it as a learning tool to grow and sharpen my skills. He’s also been around to give high-fives when I’ve earned some badges.

So I provided my first and last name and an email address and I was instantly registered for my first class with Codecademy. Wow, that was way easier than applying to college! I didn’t take a first day of school photo of myself, so this screenshot of the front page will have to suffice.

My User Experience

Codecademy’s interactive teaching technique fit well with the material. While following the step-by-step instructions, you can toggle back and forth between the index page, results page and CSS page and watch the updates happen as you make them. It feels “like the real thing” and will be easier to transition to a web-site building program. It’s hands on, interactive and fun, which is why I’ll be back to finish other sections as well. I can’t even imagine having to learn this in a textbook.

The structure of the courses are pragmatic and easy to follow and it is easy to monitor your progress and achievements in your personal dashboard.

I like that you must complete every task in a section to get credit, you can’t skip so one way or another, you have to figure it out, event if it means going back to previous sections. What’s unfortunate about that is when you get caught on a particular question and the “hint” they offer is of no help, there is really no where else to look within the site for an answer.

It’s important to note that it can be sometimes confusing when moving from one topic to the next, as each topic has a different author. I felt, sometimes, the instructions asked me to do a task that I hadn’t been taught yet.

What I Learned

I’ve enjoyed the first section titled Web (Original) which was pretty smooth sailing since I at least recognized some of the material. I reviewed “Basic HTML and Styling”,  and then moved on to more complex and sophisticated CSS that I was not familiar with. Today, I got to practice building the skeleton of a website in code and then applying an external CSS.

I learned about “Precision Targeting with Classes and Selectors”, when and how to incorporate “Inline Display vs Block Display”, “Padding vs Margin” and simplifying code by deleting unnecessary HTML. Yes, making prettier code.

All of this has helped increase my acumen for reading, understanding and creating code. With this knowledge, I’ll be able to communicate with and relate to coders and programmers I may work with as well as when working on websites myself.

Some Great Thing about Code Academy

1. Quick and easy to register and Get Started
2. The more sections you complete, the more badges you earn!
3. It’s Free!
4. It’s Fun!

So, I’ve earned 116 points and earned 13 badges!

I’m halfway through the Web Track and I plan to finish it before moving on to the programming and Javascript sections. Am I a full on web geek now? Is it time to purchase an 8-bit bow form Think Geek?

2 comments on “Codecademy for UX Dummies

  1. Hey,

    Just an FYI… Code Academy (the company behind the logo you used) is now Starter League and is a totally different company than Codecademy (notice the “A” is dropped).

    You may want to revise the article and picture.


Leave a Reply