codecademy-logoIt was summer of 2015.

I was just starting to learn how to code. My father pointed me to CodeCademy to get started learning HTML & CSS.

I thought I would just “try it out”.

Little did I know, I would actually end up liking it a whole lot and started making a career out of it.

But what about the course? Was it any good? Did it do anything more than just whet my appetite for learning coding?

Pros

1. Easy

I couldn’t pick a more descriptive term for this course.

If you already know HTML or CSS, this isn’t the course for you. This is a beginner’s course, but it doesn’t feel dumbed down or anything like that.

The pacing is perfect for those who have heard of this thing called coding and they want to see if it’s something they should learn.

(Oh, and the answer to that is yes. Always yes.)

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2. Clear explanations

Every lesson starts with a brief introduction to a new concept. Then, it moves on to show it in an example. Lastly, it gives you some instructions that get you working on the concepts yourself.

If you need a hint, it’s within reach, and it (usually) helps out a lot.

Whoever worked on this course brought their articulation skills and made this course very easy to follow.

3. Start coding things immediately

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As soon as you type in a bit of code, it appears in the preview window on the right.  When you delete something, it goes away.

Sounds like something that should always happen, right?

This system allows you to get your hands on code and see what you’re creating almost instantly. This is super helpful when you’re just starting out.

Cons

1. Redesign makes it harder to see your completed progress

At the time of this writing, the CodeCademy website is undergoing a change, one that will bring more content, but at a price.

The UI was redesigned in the wake of this change, and it had a serious impact on the course.

The list of lessons is now in a menu that pops in and out, keeping it out of the way, but close enough to access if you have to.

Before, the lessons were contained in a drop down menu, with numbers like “3/10” to let you know what lesson number you were on.

This was super important for getting help online, as you instantly knew what lesson you were working on.

It also helped you to know that there was an end in sight.

I took a few courses after the UI changed and the experience just wasn’t the same.

2. Code errors are not helpful for solving problems

Whenever you make a mistake in your code (which is gonna happen and it’s gonna be for the best), the code editor gives you a nice, friendly red warning, letting you know that something is wrong.

However, instead of just saying “Error” or something to that effect, it tries to give you a hint about what you did wrong.

These hints are infinitely more confusing than if they’d just said “Error” and let you figure it out on your own. They try to suggest things you can do, but they end up not making sense and leading you down the wrong path.

Believe me, it’s a path you don’t want to spend too much time on.

3. Can’t cover too much ground

This is an introductory course, so you can only expect it to cover so much ground.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really cover that much ground at all.

It gives you a brief introduction to the world of HTML and CSS, teaches you how to create something from nothing, and then it just leaves you hanging.

At least, that’s what it did to me.

I’m sure that if you pay for the PRO versions of the course you might get access to some more content, but for those of us going down the free path, it just isn’t nearly enough.

The Verdict

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The CodeCademy HTML and CSS course was pretty good. Even the least “tech savvy” person can quickly get moving through the course and come away with a basic understanding of HTML and CSS.

When you’re learning anything new, it’s always good to have a competent teacher, one who understands your level and allows you to learn at a comfortable – and yet also challenging – pace.

This course was just such a teacher.

With clear explanations of the tasks required and instant preview of your coding, this course is a perfect introduction into the world of HTML and CSS.

Did you take this course? If so, what did you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments!