I have come to the end of my journey and have to say I am pleased with the outcome. My knowledge level before this experiment was literally zero. My husband even told me that code was hard and it would be difficult to produce an entire website in a short period of time. I will admit there were several times of head scratching and google searches galore. I also had several experts I could go to when CSS was confusing me. However, overall, I feel I gained knowledge on a subject that was, formerly, completely foreign to me. Ironically, an associate of mine reached out looking for someone who could assist her in solving an HTML code issue on her website. I was able to successfully help her fix the problem and explain to her some of the basics of code. I wouldn’t go so far as saying the former teacher turned student has become the teacher again, but this new skill set is already coming in handy.
There were times along my journey that were easier than others. I want to address the ups and downs so others don’t make some of the same mistakes I did.
First of all, I cannot say this enough, but using Repl.it made this process exponentially easier. My associate who I assisted was using a different platform and, looking at it, I can see why her head was spinning. Repl.it makes it easy for beginners to learn code through tutorials and the aid of predictive text when selecting an element. There was less guesswork and searching in outside resources involved when using the Repl.it platform. Additionally, I was able to share my design with a teammate at Repl.it, who’s also learning how to code and who was assisting me here and there. We could make changes together or review the website in real time with Repl.it’s multiplayer feature. I was able to watch what changes were made and we even had the option to start a live chat for him to walk me through my mistakes. I would definitely recommend this platform to anyone wanting to create code...newbie or expert! Remember, it’s a FREE platform with over 50 different languages!
Choosing to only learn the basics of HTML and CSS was the right move. Both of these languages are fairly basic and lay the foundation for me in learning other languages later. I found it was vital for me to do some background research on what these two languages encompass before I dove into my project creation. I had a better sense of understanding what I was doing and not just creating something blindly with little background knowledge. Start simple. Do the research. Grow from there!
The most difficult part of this journey was the responsive design portion. Ironically, this segment had the least amount of code to actually create, but gave me the most trouble. Sometimes it’s harder to write less code. I’m told even pro coders feel this way too! I struggled with figuring out the ratios and where to input the code as this process can be done in either HTML or CSS. I came to find it really is a trial and error process to determine the ratios that need to be utilized to change the image and text size and layout. As I did in every other step, I utilized resources, both online and my teammate at Repl.it, to help me solve my errors. It’s always easier to code with a friend!
Purchasing a domain and linking it to Repl.it is easy as long as linking the domain AND setting up the DNS record in the domain registrar are done at the SAME TIME. (Confused about what all this means? Read last week’s blog post). I waited several days (as the prompt told me it could take up to 48 hours to link) and wondered why nothing was linking. It was simply because I didn’t set up the DNS record to fully link the new domain simultaneously. Once I realized it was a two-part process, it was all super easy. At first I set up my domain without the ‘www,’ but next time, I will use ‘www’ first and then add a second CNAME without the ‘www’ because creating in this order was much simpler and I had fewer rabbit trails to follow to get my domain to work both with and without ‘www.’
For those of you who are wanting to learn to code, but unsure if you have the skill set, you can do it. If I can do it, seriously, anyone can. Here are my biggest pieces of advice for all you novice coders. Use Repl.it! It’s free and user-friendly. Lean on outside resources (Here are a few that I really liked). Start simple with one or two basic languages (HTML and CSS) and make the project easy. Don’t set the bar too high for your first project.
I am ready to build my knowledge and see what’s next. If you are ready to learn to code, use Repl.it. It’s free, easy to set-up, and simple to use.