The Secret to Learning to Code

Learning from articles, courses and examples is a great way to start getting the skills you need to get a job as an engineer. Learning is hard. I used to often find myself super motivated and excited after a attending a workshop or a meetup but then can’t remember a single thing I learned only a week later. The same thing happens to me if I read an article on a train on how to do a super exciting thing with CSS or something new and interesting about JavaScript but the excitement is gone once I realise I don’t know where to start or how to apply what I have just learned. It can be demotivating. But we can make it less so with some simple tips and of course a secret ingredient to learning to code.

What is the secret ingredient?

If you wish to get the most out of your learning, there is one essential requirement, it’s more important than any other technique or suggestion. Unless you ensure to fulfil this requirement no suggestions or millions of tips will be successful in helping you to get value out of any course/workshop/article. What is this requirement, you say? A deep desire to learn, then improve and ultimately master the basics of web development. It must be a burning desire that fuels you, that keeps you going when you are having a lazy day or simply feel like giving up. But how do I get such a desire you might wonder? Constantly remind yourself self why you learning to code in the first place. Are you after a better paying job to increase your income and quality of life? Is web development a secret passion that was on hold and now you hope to take a full dive in and see how far you can take this? Think of different ways how having this new skill will improve your life, use this to fuel your determination and make the most of the course/workshop/article available to you.

Don’t skip the exercises

Many skills are learned by doing and in many course/articles there are exercises. Let’s talk about deliberate practice: just practicing for the sake of practicing is simply not enough, in order to truly understand what you are trying to achieve and how you will go about it you must deliberately think about every step you are taking in the exercises. Even if you have done this exercise before, do it again! The second time make sure you understand every step and every decision. The end goal is not to complete the exercise but to gain wisdom.

Question everything

Are you unfamiliar with a term you just read in some article? Look it up! Are you following a tutorial and find that you did not understand one of the steps you just did? Go back to it and re-read it again and again until you gain more clarity. It is only once you gain true understanding of all the steps you took to do something that you can rest assured you got lot’s of value from reading the article/tutorial/course.

Take notes

If you see something that makes you go “oh that would be good to read more about”, “that would be handy for the other things I am doing”. Ask yourself as you read, where else could I apply this?


Re-read the articles again and again. Skimming the material will not give you any lasting benefit. The speed with which humans forget things is astonishing. To truly cement the ideas, techniques and advice in any article - re-read it. Remember that the only way to get good at something is to develop good habits and understanding in that area.

Remember that learning is a process. You cannot simply become a web developer by rushing through a course or reading a bunch of articles. Take every opportunity available to you to use the skills you have learned. This process will take time, it is a living thing that will grow and get better. But this is only possible if you actively participate in the process.

Stay curious, don’t give up and be patient.

🔥 If you enjoyed this post then you can keep up to date with my latests blogs posts & courses by following me on Twitter and checking out my code school for some hands on guided coding practice.