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Learning a language...

My basic questions is, what is the best way for me to go about learning CSS?

Now that’s a pretty broad question so let me go into specifics. My purpose for learning to code is because i intend to be an E-Learning designer and developer. I am an instructional designer and corporate trainer currently, and I see this as the next step in my career development.

When I eventually get round to developing E-Learning, I suspect that coding won’t be a huge part of the job. I hypothesise that being able to code will help with solving technical problems when developing and uploading content, and it will also help me understand the possibilities and limitations in what I can create. It would also help me communicate better with technical teams.

On top of that, I am also a pessimist and believe that sooner or later my skills may become obsolete. Coding seems like a skill for a sustainable future, so I figure I’d better learn it.

The problem is as I have been going through CSS, I have come to realise that some of it gets pretty advanced, even in the CSS Foundations Deep Dive. By advanced, I mean things that I probably wouldn’t be doing very often if I practiced by myself, and things that won’t always be essential even if they are best practice. Amateurs tend to find shortcuts, and I can foresee myself finding a lot of shortcuts at the expense of quality code. I am comparing coding to my experience of learning a language whereby I came to realise a long time ago that if you never use it you lose it. And that’s my main concern, I have no need to use CSS to such a level right now, nor can I think of a way of using it to such an extent, so I am scared of losing it almost instantly. None the less, I still have a burning desire to learn it, I just want to know the most efficient way for me to learn it.

So what I am looking for is a side project that I can be working on as I learn CSS, one where I get so used to using these ‘advanced techniques’ that it becomes like riding a bicycle, basically second nature.

I know “design a bleeding website you dingbat” seems like an obvious answer, but with little guidance I fail to see how I would utilise best practice, I’d probably just take lots of shortcuts.

So I would love to get your suggestions. How did you guys become proficient at CSS?



2 Answers

Wayne Priestley
Wayne Priestley
19,579 Points

Hi Jamie, Interesting post, I would start by saying learning html in depth is an important first step too, getting familiar with the different tags within html will make coding your css a lot easier.

As for making learning easier I found going back through the tutorials a few times made remembering the code a lot easier, you get to the stage when you know the code the tutor will insert before he finishes talking about it.

My suggestion for a project would be building a blog, talk about what it was like learning to code, what is new, things you have mastered and so on. Insert the code into your blog post for people to see and download and use themselves, I can promise you there is always someone who could use a tiny snippet of code. As you learn more your own site will improve over time.

Expand your learning to include things like javascript which i think is pretty essential, even a basic understanding of this will help you when talking to designers, I've also started to learn LESS which i think will become more important.

Treehouse has helped me a huge amount but i don't limit my learning to just one source, I found Codecademy to be another excellent source, especially for javascript which i was having a lot of trouble getting my head around.

Whichever path you follow I wish you the best of luck.


James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

First I'd do the CSS projects on pair up to code to get started with the fundamentals

Then if you want more practice you can try and re-create these http://codepen.io/collection/ehqoD/1