Essential tips for designers who want to learn to code

Since i’ve published my first youtube-video-tutorial, i’ve receive the following question almost on a daily basis: What is the best way to start creative coding for communication designers? In this post i’ll try to find an appropriate answer for that.

I would say that the most important question at the beginning is: Why do you wanna learn programming? What do you wanna do? Are you interested in 3d-graphics? Augmented Reality? Web-applications? Apps for mobile devices? Generative visuals? Data visualizations?

The landscape of programming-languages is huge and every single language has its benefits and disadvantages. Python for example meanwhile evolved to the favorite language for scientists. Java once has been the big hope for the web, but then javascript made Java obsolete.

I know that this is a very confusing circumstance. But you know what? I’ll give you a very subjective recommendation:

Learn Javascript!

In the last years Javascript evolved to be the most important programming language for the web. Most modern web-development frameworks are built with Javascript, so this is a very good choice, if you are a communication designer with interest in digital webdesign and webdevelopment, then JS is your friend!

Javascript-based web-applications have one major benefit compared to the most of the other things we can build with code: They are accessible through literally any device that is abled to run a browser. That’s a superpower! Believe me, that’s a killer feature!

Getting started

There are several ways to get started. I would recommend you to learn p5.js. It is a Javascript-framework, that enables you to create interactive animations and applications for any web-browser. You can easily start coding in p5.js by opening the web-editor.

Put yourself out there

But before you start programming, i would recommend you to take a bit of time to plan your learning-process. Setup a simple tumblr-blog to

If you put yourself out there in the web and invite your friends to watch your progress, you can build up a bit of positive stress: Try to make impressive graphics, things that your friends, colleagues, rivals will like. Try to impress those people on tumblr. Follow interesting channels and write comments to the work of others. Make a website. Post on instagram. There are people who’ll like what you do! Promised!

In 2015 i slowly builded up an audience and a base of people that liked, commented and reblogged my work. I really love to think back to that magical time.

Tutorials and courses

There are dozens of people on the web, sharing videos, articles and websites to teach you how to code. One of them is the the one and only Daniel Shiffman. This is the playlist that teaches you the very basics of programming in Javascript, utilizing p5.js

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There’s another cool site i wanna recommend to you: It’s called freeCodeCamp and it offers thousands of interactive Javascript-lessons. Even if the site is super ugly, give it a chance! You can increase your knowledge in programming with that ugly piece of a website.

Find a mentor

Conclusion

Learning to code requires a lot of time, but it enables you to create wonderful things in the end. If you are facing a difficult piece of code and you doubt if you are on the right track, i wanna encourage you to go on with it, don’t give up!


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