Designers, learn how to code (at Steer)

First things first: my name is Michel, I recently moved to London from the maritime city of Bremen, Germany, and I joined Red Badger as a design intern a couple of weeks ago. I study Interaction & Moving Image at the London College of Communication and came here to get my teeth stuck into the wonderful world of technology.

As a young designer it feels kind of weird being so familiar with the internet and at the same time don't know much about the way sites actually work. Every member of the web generation should know a bit about the (virtual) places they spend their time at. I knew I wanted to get a handle on coding, but needed a foundation to build on. Recently I came across a company called Steer claiming to teach anyone how to code and build websites. After a few  emails I decided to attend their intense front end web development course: Five days of key bashing leading to a kick-start in coding.

Steer

Rik explaining some JavaScript

HTML & CSS 

So I arrived on Monday at their studio in Clerkenwell and was welcomed by a very friendly team with a tasty breakfast. Our course teacher Rik worked in web development for over 8 years and he was able to translate these hieroglyphics for us beginners into something that makes actually sense. We started with the very basics of HTML and that wasn't as complicated as I thought. The very first site we built reminded me of the web how it used to be when I was six years old (e.g. Space Jam). We soon went on to more CSS and at the end of the day we had a simple, yet good looking site.

On the second day we learned about grids and forms, so we were able to build a decent site that could go straight on the net. Adding further CSS knowledge on day three I was quite surprised how easily you could create impressive 3D animations and cutting-edge layouts. 

JavaScript

On the last two days we went into JavaScript, mainly using jQuery. I think that's quite a big step for a coding virgin. It's challenging at first, but the result was pretty amazing. We went to another level of website designing, building responsive sites, integrating Twitter feeds and Google Maps or using parallax scrolling (every designer's favourite right now).  

Conclusion

The course really demystified the world of coding for me. I never thought you can gain such a comprehensive set of skills within five days. Now it is up to me to keep up practicing and learning. Sites like codeacademy.com or teamtreehouse.com definitely make it a lot easier to keep you motivated. But in case you get stuck (which is highly likely to happen at some point) and you can't figure out the bug yourself, it is good to know that Steer offers bi-weekly coding emergency sessions for all alumni. 

Coding really feels like an essential skill for the modern working world, especially if you have a couple of years ahead in your career. I am now in the position to create prototypes on my own. I probably even know some things a lot of front end developers out there don't know as Steer teaches you the newest stuff available. All in all I was more than satisfied with the course and I'm thinking of attending the new iOS course in summer.  

There's nothing to be afraid of. Don't wait, learn how to code! 

To find out more about the different courses that Steer offers, just go to http://steer.me 

Photo: Steer

Michel Erler
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