The Best Ways to Learn How to Code

Learning to code can be a rewarding processes that will end in a number of different career choices.
Trevor English

If you want to learn how to code, then there are plenty of options you have at your disposal. Learning to code is one of the most democratized processes of the 21st century. You can do it largely for free or you could go the more traditional route and head to college for four years. Regardless of the learning path you choose, at the end, you'll be met with a promising array of career paths.

Since you're likely at the beginning of your coding journey if you're reading this, let's highlight all the different options you have in the process of learning to code.

If you're the type of person who can stay disciplined and would also like control over your own learning path, then taking online courses is probably the way to go. It also means that you won't have to have any actual human interaction in the learning process, which for some people might actually be a good thing. 

The Odin Project is a great website to start with that pulls together a variety of free assets into one curriculum. You'll be fairly on your own with this option though, so if you're looking for an online course that has a little bit more options for help if you need it, then you might want to sign up for a subscription course from Udacity or Treehouse. I have had great success personally with Udacity and found their lessons very easy to grasp.

There are also courses on Udemy that can range in price. However for Udemy specifically, there are often massive sales on course costs, so be sure to keep checking in for when things get extremely discounted. 

One of the most beneficial things about online courses is how easy and project-based they are. Coding in these classes moves quickly from theory into projects, even within the first few lessons. Things are broken down into chewable chunks and working at your own pace offers up a great deal of freedom.

Go read something

Different people have different learning methods. Sometimes that means that the best way to learn how to code a computer is to go read something a little more analog, a book. Reading a book about the basics of coding can give you a deeply comprehensive introduction to coding in general or just a specific programming language.

Notably, books about coding will be much more organized than just googling new topics about a language as you navigate an online tutorial program.


As for e-books, you'll likely find some helpful files on GitHub, but just scrolling through Amazon or looking at your local bookstore should net you a wealth of options. 

Another thing to consider as you're looking at books to read would be ones that focus more on the industry as a whole and not on a specific language. As you work to start your career in computer programming, it will be a good idea to get a general idea of the industry or even best practices that are used in the process.

Coding games

Learning to code through boring step by step tutorials can be a little boring. One of the most effective methods to learn how to code is to actually take it out of theory and put it into practice. Only then do many of coding's abstract ideas begin to make sense. 

One great source for coding games that are incorporated into lessons is FreeCodeCamp. Each lesson will have an exercise at the end that will take everything you just learned and force you to apply it into a practical application.

If you're wanting a game that's a little less... formal... you can even use Minecraft. Specifically, you can use their built-in redstone and other blocks to learn the process of coding in a 3D video game way. There's also a version of Minecraft called "Minecraft: Educational Edition" that can teach you programming basics and even start teaching you JavaScript. It's free if you have an Office 365 Education account.

Bring coding into your everyday life

Chances are you have some form of smart device in your life, like a Google Home or an Amazon Alexa. If you don't and you're learning to code, it might be good to go pick one up. 

You can create miniature programs for your digital assistants like adding new voice commands, reading specific information for you, or even use them to do more complex tasks, like activating other smart devices. 

This means of learning to program is a great way of bringing your newfound skills into the realm of reality – and even practicality. The excitement you get from actually seeing something you wrote do something in actuality can be overwhelming for a new coder. It definitely serves as a great motivation for the path forward.


YouTube has a wealth of videos out there that will teach you literally everything about coding. There are real-life developers that also have YouTube channels to share their projects or help bring up the new generation. Apart from learning, the YouTube coding community is also a great way to get plugged in with other like-minded individuals.

Another video-based option you can check out, though notably, it isn't free, is LinkedIn Learning's video library for tutorials. All of these videos will be highly vetted, but the service does cost $30 per month

Special projects

If all of the structured online courses, tutorials, games, and projects aren't for you, then the best way to learning might be finding something you're passionate about and trying to make it happen through coding. For example, learn Python, HTML, and CSS and try to start coding your own website. With a little HTML and CSS (no Python), you can start seeing practical results within minutes of starting. These languages are also simple to guess and check since they have graphic outputs.  

Finding a project that gets your juices flowing that you can be passionate about is a great way to stay motivated in the process. Like any skill, learning something new can get overwhelming at times. Finding that underlying motivation and latching on to it is key. 

Google everything

Google is your friend as a programmer. I cannot stress that enough. Do not think that you need to be able to go into a project and never look anything up. Even the pros will Google things as they are working on projects. Google new commands. Google your error messages. Google plugins and libraries to use for the project you're working on. 

Google will have literally everything you could ever want to know about coding queried in searches. Google is one of the best resources for the new – and even experienced coder.

Download someone else's project

Not even sure where to start? Another effective means of learning how to code can be stealing someone else's code and taking a peek under the hood. Start making changes and see what it does.

Sometimes you can learn the theories behind something and even use it practically, but seeing another more experienced programmer's work can give you insight into the type of tips and tricks they've picked up over the years. Build off of other coders' knowledge to help propel you into success.