Did You Know That You Can Learn Coding For Free?

Lindsey Weedston Online Marketing, website design

Code for America sign

CfASummit2011-1” by Code for America is licensed under CC BY 2.0

No, this isn’t a scam. We’re not even offering the service! We swear!

What I’m talking about is actual, real, non-scam sites that will help you learn how to code online, for free. And they’re not affiliated with us.

When you have a small business, and you know you have to get it online, and you don’t know anything about web design or coding – that’s a tough spot to be in. But that’s where most small business owners find themselves. Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge can leave you vulnerable to designers who are less than honest and may not actually have the skill and education necessary to make a website that works like it should. You don’t know what to look for when you’re interviewing them, and you have no way to know if the jargon they’re using is correct.

Even if you find yourself with a fantastic designer, relying on them to make every little change can be frustrating.

We know you’re busy. And we know that the very idea of “coding” is intimidating to most people. But if you have the time, even a basic knowledge of the simplest coding languages can help you to spot scam artists and save yourself a lot of money. If you think you can find the time, we highly recommend looking at one of these services:


#1: Code Academy

Code Academy is on a mission to change the face of education. In part by offering online coding education for free. The site takes you through the process of learning how a website works and then allows you to choose from a number of different coding languages. It’s interactive and offers feedback on your work as well as badges for completion of exercises as an incentive. Each user’s score is displayed on their account to encourage competition. They also have a forum where users can interact, compare work, and help each other. Code Academy has received a lot of praise from publications like TechCrunch and the New York Times.
Code Academy Screenshot

#2: Code School

Code School isn’t completely free – you have to pay for more advanced courses. However, if you’re just looking to get the basics, you shouldn’t have to pay for anything. Code School works on a “path” format to help you decide which string of courses will best help you based on your personal needs. Each step provides you with a themed video to watch, followed by online assignment that make you alter a string of code in a certain way before you can move forward. Like in Code Academy, you earn points for doing it right. Each “course” also provides you with a list of prerequisite knowledge you’ll need to be successful.


#3: Code Avengers

Code Avengers Screenshot
If you’re looking for something that’s less flashy and more simple and straightforward, or you think The Avengers are totally cool, this is a good option for you. It doesn’t slow you down with videos or a lot of explanation, and it doesn’t complicate things with point systems or badges. It quickly runs through how the site works, then walks you through step by step learning either HTML/CSS or Javascript. Your example page is displayed in mobile form right next to the text editor. And, of course, it’s all action movie-themed to make things a little interesting. It helps when you’re not actually interested in coding.


#4: School of Webcraft

“Typical developer certification is expensive, out of touch, and out of reach. You can participate in the School of Webcraft for free.”

The School of Webcraft is backed by Mozilla, creators of the Firefox browser, and is another program dedicated to making coding knowledge accessible to all. You can jump into quick challenges or browse full (and fully free) courses which are created by web developers – and more are being created all the time. They include a full range of course for all skill levels, including those who have zero coding experience.


#5: MIT OpenCourseWare

That’s right. You can learn basic coding, for free, straight from the website of the renowned MIT. They have intro courses for Java, Python, C++, and other languages. Simply choose a course and watch the video lectures and complete assignments in your own time. There are also plenty of other science and technology courses you can browse. You won’t get the degree, but it also won’t cost you $75,000.
MIT OpenSource Screenshot


This is just a sampling of the options available. There are actually a lot of websites dedicated to helping people learn how to code for free, as well as a lot of free local community resources. You have the ability to learn how to code – all you need is the motivation!