Coding Help for a Designer
How important is it for a designer to know how to code? The truth is that while you don’t necessarily need to be able to write code from scratch or releasable code, understanding the basics of coding is a vital skill for designers.
Imagine that you have a client who adores the overall design you’ve created for her. You’ve used a platform and added your own unique graphics, and then the client asks you to change something in the way the website functions.
While learning some basic coding is challenging, it also is worth the effort if you want to grow your business and reach those higher-paying, corporate clients at some point.
Top Reasons to Learn Coding
There are many good reasons to learn coding:
- More freedom in designing. You won’t be locked into the designs of others but can tweak them to suit your needs.
- Better understanding of what can and can’t be done. Some things sound like a great idea but are either next to impossible to accomplish or would take so many hours of coding that they wouldn’t be affordable. Understanding the basics of coding will allow you to easily understand what can and can’t be done.
- A better ability to communicate with coders. There are some tasks you may not have the technical skills to pull off. However, if you understand the basics of coding, you can more easily communicate with any third parties you need to bring into the project to complete this work.
But what if you don’t know how to write code? Or you do know how to write code but it’s too difficult for you to figure out how to change a function of the site? After all, you’re still a designer first and coding might be secondary (third? fourth?) skill for you. Here are ways to get coding help for a designer when you need it the most.
Where to get coding help
Classes You Can Take
There are a wide variety of online courses you can take to learn coding. Many local community colleges also offer classes on this topic. If you prefer to learn online, try:
- Coursera — This site offers a wide variety of courses from universities around the world. You can start with an introduction to programming and even take courses specifically created for web designers. The price of these courses can vary.
- Khan Academy — You’ll find a nice collection of coding and design-related classes on this site. Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization, and classes on the site are free. However, support from an instructor is lacking, so it depends on how you learn. If you are a self-learner, then this site is an excellent match for you.
- Codecademy — If you are a hands-on learner, this site offers a free interactive series of lessons that will teach you the basics of coding.
Every month, 19 million people discover the Internet. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people worldwide online doubled. With so many people getting online and staying online, the work for web designers is sure to expand in coming years as the online marketplace and thus number of businesses online increases.
If you run into coding issues, even after you’ve taken classes and understand the basics, there are a number of ways to get additional help.
Your problems may be something another web designer has ran into before, posted about, and already received a solution for. For example, if you are designing a WordPress website and choose a theme that you’d like to tweak, many of those themes are discussed on WordPress.org.
There are also a number of websites out there that will discuss ways to tweak WordPress code. A simple Google search for the exact problem you’re having will turn up a number of online forums with advice on how to fix the issue. For example, perhaps your images in your media on WordPress are not showing up.
You can be certain that this is an issue other WordPress designers have had. You’ll find suggestions such as checking the permissions on folders and adding various plugins. You’ll want to try different solutions until you discover the one that works to fix the problem you’re facing.
A word of caution. Always back up your original files before recoding anything. That way, if the unthinkable happens and the changes break your site, you can just restore the original files and revert back to where you were.
There are some tools you can find online that will help you figure out basic coding as well.
- Cloud 9 — If you want to write some code but get stuck, you can use this tool to get input from other coders or to work collaboratively on a project.
- Tinkerbin — This site lets you test code in HTML5, CSS3, and JS. You’ll see right on screen if there are any bugs that need to be fixed for your code to work properly.
- CSSDesk — This site focuses solely on CSS coding. If you want to adjust some of your CSS code to change the look of the site, then this platform can help you see how changes will appear before you actually implement them.
- W3Schools — Want to find the perfect hex code or a web-safe font? This site offers simple solutions, showing you the color and the matching code.
- Code Avengers — This site is a ton of fun. It lets you play games to better understand coding. It also offers courses for people who want to study coding a bit more seriously. The site offers a free trial.
These are just a few of the online tools that can make coding run more smoothly even for an amateur coder.
You can also gain valuable help from websites that focus on coding. Either learn a new trick by reading articles, or connect with bloggers to get ideas on how to fix a specific issue.
- HTML5 Rocks — This is a project created by Google. Professional designers add resource guides and slide decks to help you figure out how best to code in HTML5. You’ll find articles on topics such as creating high-performance videos with hardware coding, permissions API, and even topics such as push notifications for mobile apps.
- GitHub — This site is like a giant online encyclopedia of coding topics. They offer about 500 programming books on different types of coding languages, all free. You can also utilize the site to work with other programmers to build projects.
- SourceForge — A library of open-source code. If you’re not quite sure what code you need to replace, this site is very helpful for finding a basic piece of code.
- Smashing Magazine — This site talks about different coding ideas as well as providing basic code you can use. Read through ideas from some of the world’s top coding professionals. You’ll also find hacks, tips, and tricks.
These sites will keep you busy with coding tricks for quite a long time. One of the best ways to continually improve your design coding skills is to read and study new techniques or things you’ve not tried before.
Ask an Expert
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have mentor to help you past those difficult coding questions and encourage you to learn to become a better coder yourself?
If you can’t figure out how to fix a coding issue or make a design fit a client’s needs, you may also want to turn to ask-an-expert-type sites. This allows you to ask a very specific question and get a specific answer that matches your particular design and coding needs. Websites like Codementor offers team training and coaching in areas such as web programming, code, and design/user experience.
Learning to code is not as difficult as you might think. While you might not become an expert overnight, you can easily learn enough to make your work as a designer easier and more satisfying. And similarly, devs should learn about design, too!
But whether you want to study coding or you just ran into a programming problem, the right coding help will always work to benefit you as a designer.