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Why You Should Learn To Code In 2016

Posted on February 17, 2016 by in Tips & Tricks | 27 comments

Why You Should Learn To Code In 2016

With technology always advancing and the automation all types of routine jobs, there’s never been a better time to learn to code and pick up some specialist skills. The demand for these skills has never been higher, and what’s more, you can master them from the comfort of your own home.

Studies have shown that the Internet has created 2.6 jobs for each lost to technology-related inefficiencies. This indicates that possessing coding know-how can help future-proof your ability to find work in the modern economy.

Whether you’re a freelance web designer, a WordPress power user, or you’re involved in the WordPress ecosystem in some other capacity, there have never been more resources to help you learn how to code. But why would you want to and is it really worth your time?

In this article, we’ll be discussing some of many of the reasons why learning to code should be high on your list of priorities in 2016. Whether you’re a WordPress newbie or you’ve been writing HTML and designing websites since the days of scrolling text and splash pages, there’s always something new to learn, and for now, at least, there’s always going to be plenty of advantages to developing proficient coding abilities.

So let’s get started with the main reasons why it’s time to learn to code, before finishing up with some resources to help you get started.

Learn to Code and Level Up Your WordPress Website

Learn to Code Web Design shutterstock_365773013-pixome

Upgrade your WordPress website yourself – image by pixome / shutterstock.com

There’s a reason why WordPress powers around 25% of all websites online today. That’s because it provides a platform that allows both new and advanced users to create something great with relative ease.

One of the most impressive things about WordPress is that most users will be able to create a website for their project, simply by using off the shelf products, such as themes and plugins.

However, if you or your clients have more creative aspirations or bespoke needs, then purchasing a commercial theme and relying on the core functionality of WordPress might not be enough.

Learning basic HTML and CSS skills will give you the ability to gain greater control over how the individual posts and pages of your website look. By switching to the Text view of the post editor, you can begin adding custom styling to your content, without being at the mercy of the idiosyncrasies of the WordPress Visual editor.

By developing your HTML and CSS skills further, you can move from customizing the posts and pages on your website to tweaking and modifying your chosen WordPress theme.

Whether you’re working on your own website or creating WordPress sites for clients, being able to dive into the underlying HTML and CSS of a theme and make cosmetic changes to its appearance opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to web design.

Taking things to the next level and getting to grips with JavaScript and PHP broadens your horizons even further. You can now go beyond simply customizing the appearance of your website and start modifying the way it works.

With PHP and JavaScript chops, you can start editing the underlying code of the plugins you’ve installed on your website. With the right level of ability, you could even go as far as creating your own WordPress plugin. Whether you actually need to build a plugin from scratch or not, doing so can be a great way to learn to code.

As WordPress websites are a mixture of HTML, CSS, Sass, and PHP – to name but a few – developing your PHP skills will give you the ability to gain control over your theme of choice or produce a bespoke website design. Again, with the right level ability, you can even build your own theme from scratch or get a head start by using a starter template.

And if you’re seeking permission to start to learn to code with JavaScript, look no further than WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg’s recent recommendation to learn JavaScript deeply.

Products like the Divi WordPress theme and the Divi Builder plugin, with their drag and drop editors, now give you a great deal of control over how your website looks and functions, all without requiring any coding skills. However, by learning to code, you can start making even greater changes to your WordPress website and those of your clients.

Become a Self-sufficient Webmaster or Freelancer

Learn to Code Gain Independence shutterstock_355779038-Lemberg Vector

Gain your independence – image by Lemberg Vector / shutterstock.com

As we’ve just seen learning to code can give you more control over your WordPress website. Another benefit of learning to code is that with the right development skills, you can also gain an ability to troubleshoot any problems you encounter with your site.

Although WordPress is robust, problems do arise. Maybe multiple plugins have clashed or a modified theme has stopped functioning as it should.

In some situations, you can turn to the plugin or theme developer for help, but maybe you’ve inherited a custom project, you no longer have an active license and access to support, or maybe no one wants to take responsibility for a plugin or theme conflict. Perhaps your web design client has been tinkering with the site you created for them and you’ve no idea what they’ve done and what the root of the issue is.

In this situation, you could turn to a freelance developer or sign up to a WordPress maintenance service. However, if you’ve put in the time and effort to learn to code, there’s a good chance you could take care of the problem yourself or, at least, explain the issue in more detail to a third-party.

Earn More Money

Learn to Code Increase Your Rates shutterstock_307398863-Faberr Ink

Increase your rates – image by Faberr Ink / shutterstuck.com

Whether you prefer to work as a freelancer or in full-time employment, learning to code can greatly increase your worth in the growing WordPress economy.

Research has shown that high-end salaries can range from $116,600 to as high as $128,000 for a Principal Software engineer – and for a less senior position, salaries as much as $88,500 aren’t unheard of.

So whether you want to move from being a WordPress implementor to a fully fledged web developer and up your rates accordingly or you’re seeking that job promotion, even if you have to learn to code on your own dime, it can be very lucrative.

On the flip side, you can also save money by learning to code and removing your reliance on purchasing off the shelf themes and plugins or hiring developers to work on your projects.

Go Freelance, Start a Business or Land a New Role

Jumpstart your career - image by Oceans / shutterstock.com

Jumpstart your career – image by Oceans / shutterstock.com

If you’re not already employed in a web-related role, or working as a freelance web designer, or on some other entrepreneurial venture, then learning to code can be a great way to put your career back on the right track.

Whether you’d rather set your own hours and work from home, or the benefits of being an employee are more appealing, learning to code can open all sorts of doors for you. From becoming location independent and working as a remote employee or freelancer, through to getting your very own cubicle, with the right coding skills, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding your place in the world of the web.

From creating sites for clients to plugin and theme development, or working on enterprise projects as part of a global team, mastering WordPress and the right coding skills makes all of this possible.

Furthermore, as most of what you learn won’t be specific to WordPress, if you want to branch out into other areas, knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, or JavaScript can only help your chances.

Deliver Projects that Match Your Vision

Avoid your vision being diluted

Avoid your vision being diluted – image by Max Griboedov / shutterstock.com

Building a site is often a collaborative effort, and collaboration usually means compromises.

As a web designer or site owner, you may be outsourcing coding tasks to a web developer. While this can help ensure the work is completed to the required standard, it does have its downsides.

As well as the extra costs you’ll incur, which we’ve already covered, you also run the risk of your vision or personality getting watered down and lost in translation. However, if you learn to code – even at a basic level – you may find your reliance on developers shrinks.

Having more involvement in the project can help ensure that you are able to deliver a final product that is as close to your initial vision as possible. This can not only be personally satisfying but if you were chosen by a client because of your style or take on their project, they’ll more than likely be happier with the end result.

No longer will you be at the mercy of a developer, not only waiting for them to get around to your project in their busy schedule, but also wondering how they will interpret your instructions and project brief.

Even if you don’t become a proficient coder, there are still benefits to be reaped in this area. Even with basic coding knowledge, you’ll be able to provide more detailed instructions, increasing the chances that your vision will be realized, despite the need to outsource.

Ditch the Templates and Create Your Own

Start from scratch - image by ProStockStudio / shutterstock.com

Start from scratch – image by ProStockStudio / shutterstock.com

From commercial WordPress themes to proprietary website builders, there are many off the shelf solutions to getting a professional looking website online today.

But if you embrace the idea of learning to code, you’ll be opening up a whole new world of creative possibilities and freedom. Building a WordPress website from scratch takes time and dedication, but in the long-term, you’ll be rewarded.

You’ll have been with the project from beginning so you’ll understand the way it works better than anyone else. You’ll have more control and complete ownership. It’ll be your baby.

There’s no need to eschew prebuilt themes and plugins for the sake of it, and it’s not a route to go down lightly. But doing so can have benefits, from giving you an opportunity to put your newfound skills to the test, reduce your reliance on third party tools and services, and build the bespoke website you’ve always wanted.

Learn to Code: Resources for Getting Started

Go from beginner to pro - image by jehsomwang / shutterstock.com

Go from beginner to pro – image by jehsomwang / shutterstock.com

Hopefully, you’ve now been inspired to learn to code. Thankfully, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge, So here are some resources to help you begin your journey.

One of the most prominent is Codecademy, which has over 25 million users globally. It’s free to sign up, and can teach you the basics of nine different programming languages, including JavaScript, PHP, and HTML.

The iThemes team have put together a great resource in their training platform. This covers everything from getting started, through to planning your first development project.

Lynda.com features many WordPress courses, covering all levels including build your own themes. The WordPress courses at Treehouse are also well worth checking out. Over at WPSessions, you’ll be able to find a multitude of courses from leading developers in the WordPress space.

Other helpful sites include KhanAcademy, which can offer you step-by-step video tutorials and both introductory and advanced courses, walking you through each aspect of a particular language. Even something as obvious as the WordPress coding support section can provide you with a wealth of nifty tricks you can use to better your blog.

If you want more resources for learning how to code for WordPress, be sure to check out this collection of online places to learn WordPress inside and out.

No matter what your current skill level, you’ll be able to find free or paid resources that will help you elevate your coding abilities.

Learn To Code In 2016 and You’ll Be Rewarded

So there you have it, an introduction to why you should learn to code in 2016 and some resources to help you get started.

If you’re already working as a freelancer, there are plenty of opportunities for good developers in the WordPress and wider web economy. Even if you are a WordPress website owner, we’ve just seen that there are many benefits to developing some level of coding ability.

Not only can learning to code become a lucrative endeavor, but it can also be fun, liberating, and highly rewarding in many other ways.  If you’re looking for a new hobby in 2016, learning to code is a great choice.

Even with a small time investment each week, you could be well on your way to establishing a solid programming foundation in 2016.

Are you ready to learn to code in 2016 or level up your existing skills? What are your current abilities and what is motivation for wanting to get better? Have you found any good resources you’d like to share? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article thumbnail image by Titov Nikolai / shutterstock.com

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27 Comments

  1. Yes I want to learn to code but when I look at it… ><!

    • Joe Fylan

      Wat dee. It is difficult but you gotta start somewhere!

  2. Great post, Joe! I just noticed, was it intentional or not, you write – Codeacademy – with “a” after Code when its correct brand Codecademy.

  3. Great article Joe and very helpful. As far as the type of coding languages that are out there can you recommend which order we should learn them in?

  4. Yes! I’ve been using a fantastic app on my phone so that when I have downtime I can learn. I know basic (basic) HTML but it still has made a world of a difference in my game with clients. This has been my 2016 goal and this article really encouraged me to keep at it. Thank you!

    • Nathan B. Weller

      That’s awesome Bethany! I’m trying to improve my CSS and branch out into PHP. It can be intimidating at first but each little bit I master the more fun it is to learn more 🙂

  5. What a great article and especially because you encourage learning on how to make your own themes, when your business offers a membership for themes.

  6. As a designer I know that it’s now becoming more important day by day to learn coding because websites these days becoming more simple and minimal style so, I guess graphic designers like me can only enjoy working as making vector design however it’s become mandatory learn these programming languages specially HTML and CSS.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      I think in the future there will always be a place for power users, designers (who don’t code), and content specialists. However, when it comes to autonomy and compensation knowing how to code will always been a big advantage.

  7. Indeed everyone should need to learn coding! because initially i faced lots of issues because of not knowing coding, now i get to know a bit about coding. and it helps me a lot. And Joe, what a great article man!

    you gave true reason why we should learn coding 😀 ..thanks mate for this!

  8. Great post Joe, you gave wonderful reasons why we should learn coding.. thanks mate for this wonderful post! It motivated me again to learn deep coding.

  9. I have been using w3schools.com for quite a while which I want to recommend for its nice interactive “trial and error” interface. Real fin to learn coding this way

  10. Yes, it looks like I should learn in order to do something more.
    Thanks

  11. I am totally intimidated by code, but, I was that way with HTML and now can tweak and fix my site in Dreamweaver. Now that I’m on WP, I realize this is something I have to do. Would you say PHP is what I should learn? I looked in the text and it looks nothing like HTML, of course. I just want to know where to start. I am an ‘organic’, non-digital artist (though I am totally comfortable with the digital), but to make the most of selling my art, I need to learn the code WP uses. Thank you!

    • Nathan B. Weller

      I’d recommend learning HTML and CSS thoroughly first. With a theme like Divi and a solid knowledge of HTML and CSS you can do SO much. After that, learning PHP will make you a certified WordPress rockstar.

    • Hi Christine!
      I´d go for a solid knowledge of HTML(5) and CSS(3) first. Once you mastered that it´d be good to get at least a basis knowledge of PHP. But honestly – most of WordPress functions can be looked up and copied from the WP-Codex. So in most cases you just need to know what you WANT – not how it´s done.

      If you want to really, really take it some more steps further, getting even deeper in PHP & SQL Queries won´t be a mistake though.

      Ehm, and I forgot,.. I´m not a Javascript-Fan, but Javascript is more and more taking ground in WordPress. So, that´s another Language you might get into.

      Short: HTML/CSS/Javascript is more or less for any Frontend-Stuff, PHP & SQL for any Backend Logic..

  12. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Marketing and somehow ended up writing technical documents for Lockheed Space (the Space Shuttle) and later Motorola. Afterwards I got a job teaching Internet classes for a nationwide training company. After the layoff from that company, I took the Vice President’s advise and sought a job as a programmer. During the time I was writing tech manuals in 1995, I taught myself HTML and developed a web business on the side. Later I taught myself Java, ASP, and ASP.NET and landed several jobs as a software consultant. Now I devote full time to my website/software company. I use a WP developer to do my websites while I use my own talents to Mkt. my company and write PHP code. I have written PHP code for several website companies for their client’s websites. On one coding project, I made my client 3 – 5 million. He resold the product and ended up with a lot more than the initial 3-5 million. I generally use books to teach myself code. Nice surface level article on the importance of learning to code.

  13. Nice information, But what I understand here is it’s not about code, It’s about talent. Any rich talent can give you lots of money doesn’t matter in which line. There are thousands of coders but not everyone is having that analytical skills which can earn you better. This is harsh reality but this is the truth.

  14. Why I should Learn to Code. To clean the mess you guys are doing to us clients with the last divi updates. Woocommerce can’t work anymore in my site. your support sucks. We’re open ticjets and the questions keep going without answers? Where are you going guys? I’m not a developer so I can’t fiz the problems. I buy elegant themes mebership because was a really viable solution for poeple that can’tt code like me, but thinks like not anymor huhhh?

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Hi Joilson, so sorry you’re having trouble with our latest update. We are more than happy to help you with that. We tend to cover all newly opened tickets within 12-24 hours. Occasionally we miss this mark and try to do what we can to rectify it as quickly as possible. If you have open tickets that have not been addressed within this timeframe please use our contact form to contact support. Be sure to link us to the open tickets and we’ll bump them to the front of the queue if they are overdue.

  15. Great post Joe! WordPress takes care of 99% of the work, but for the extra 1% that makes a difference, a little knowledge of code goes a long way. Thanks for the insights.

  16. Wow. I was just thinking this today. I need to start a website for a radio show that I started in 2005. It’s been on hiatus for quite a while because of some emergencies in my family. Things are calming down, now, and I need to get it back up and running. Though I created the show and named it, it was co-produced with a public radio station for five years. Then I left, and since I was the creator, they let me keep it that way. I need to start it up again, and join forces with PRX, but I need a website, and that’s just the beginning. I need to learn this. This article was SO timely for me! Thanks so much!!!

  17. Coding is really vital today. It would be an advantage if you’ve got such knowledge because aside from you are making money out of it, it will also teach you on how use the computers and laptop efficiently. It is really important that people should learn to be comfortable using computers and should have the opportunity to learn more if they want to. Whether we like it or not, this is the new world surrounded by technologies and we have no choice but to adopt.

  18. I use coding to edit my posts and pages likewise editing my blog templates.
    I hope to further my coding skills but want to get a PC first

  19. Thanks Joe This Post is Really Inspire me. I already tryin to learns some code for wordpress. Do you now some ebook that came with a good explanation and easy to understand material?

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