When you're learning how to code, you have to get your hands dirty before you actually get it. Online courses and reference materials are a great way to build your foundation, but they'll only take you so far. To really cement your skills, you'll need to start building projects.
But how, and what kind?
Before jumping into a project, it's important that you pick one that aligns with your current skillset and needs. What are you trying to achieve? Are you looking for a passion project or something that'll help you build your skills and find a job?
To help you figure out what kind of project is right for you, we've outlined each of the different kinds of projects you'll find here on Codecademy. Read on to learn about what they involve and when you should tackle them.
You might already be familiar with practice projects. These are the ones you complete as you progress through your courses, and they help test and instill the new knowledge you gain from them. For example, in Learn HTML, you use basic HTML elements and syntax to create a fashion blog.
More guidance: Master the fundamentals
Practice projects come with two levels of guidance. Those with more guidance give you the opportunity to practice a skill you’ve just learned with a little more help.
Not only are they guided with clear, step-by-step instructions, but they'll also show you how the concepts and methods you learned can be used in other contexts. And they help pinpoint the gaps in your knowledge, so you know exactly what to go back and study if you find yourself stuck on a problem. Plus, they're exciting!
People often hesitate before learning how to code. Practice projects can help you get over this mindset. When you're first learning about syntax, you realize that it isn't quite as complicated as you'd imagined. Then, when you start putting it all together to build your project, everything clicks. You realize that coding is just like any other skill. With enough time and effort, anyone can learn how — including you.
Less guidance: Test your skills
After mastering the basics of your programming languages, you might start looking for ways to put them all together. This is the time to take the training wheels off and tackle something a little more complex.
Less-guided practice projects are a step above those with more guidance. They're more comprehensive, testing your cumulative knowledge rather than individual skills, and there's less hand-holding.
Instead of being guided along every step of the way, you'll get a set of requirements and some starter code — then you're mostly on your own. You'll also receive a checklist of tasks to help keep you on the right track, and you can always reach out on our forum if you need any help.
Still, these projects give you a chance to bring your skills to the next level. They encompass a wider range of topics than the practice projects that are more limited in scope, so you'll have to use everything you learned to complete them. For example, this project asks that you use everything you know about HTML and CSS to create your own cheat sheet.
Portfolio projects: Code on your own
Finally, we come to portfolio projects.
At some point, you'll want to start coding on your own, and portfolio projects give you the chance to do just that. You'll be given a set of requirements, a user story, and all the information you need to set up your own development environment — then the rest is up to you. You'll work autonomously, drawing on the full extent of your programming knowledge and skills as you develop your own solutions, just like you would in the real world.
As their name suggests, these projects are designed to help you create a portfolio. Since your solution is left up to you, you'll end up with a totally unique project that you can share with potential employers to help land an entry-level position.
You can find portfolio projects at the end of every Career Path, and they serve as a symbolic milestone in your development. Coming up with your own solutions and building everything from scratch will help you become more confident in your abilities, and it'll also give you a sense of what coding is like outside of Codecademy.
Each type of project marks a different stage in your development as you're learning how to code. Check out our project library and see which one is right for you. Then, once you're done, share them with other learners in our forum! You'll get tips for improvements and optimizations, and your code might even help someone else with their own project.