Counting The Cost Of A Lack Of Coding Knowledge

It has always seemed clear to us that a lack of web understanding must cost the smaller company, startup or self employed money. Outsourcing any web design or digital marketing has to cost something.

So we thought we’d try and find just how we might be talking about and  determine what impact a ‘coding skills gap’ would have on business growth and innovation.

From a survey of 350 small companies the research found that it is costing regional businesses an average of £5,000 every year.

Of the SMEs and start-ups surveyed, 73 per cent said they had no in-house knowledge about web development. In addition, 41 per cent admitted that they had outsourced a project involving digital marketing or website design to an agency or specialist in the previous 12 months.

As part of the survey, entrepreneurs were asked about the digital needs of their business, as well as the level of knowledge about email marketing, coding, web design and app development among their current staff.

We estimated that local companies are losing an average £5,000 a year on missed business opportunities and outsourced website design, email marketing and app development projects – and that now developing in-house coding skills has become a priority for these growing businesses.

A lack of understanding about the basics of web design, digital marketing or coding languages, such as HTML5, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, contributed to the cost as small businesses were forced to outsource these projects to specialists, ranging from £750 to £8,000 each.

All small businesses and startups should have some in-house knowledge of coding. By increasing an SMEs digital literacy, they can improve on their ability to compete effectively with larger organisations in the marketplace.

A strong understanding of web development and design will equip them with the knowledge to start building websites and take control of their online and digital marketing.

Why I Love Coding As A Career

Mladen tells us the why he loves coding as a career:

Why would you tell somebody that they should learn to code?

Because it’s easy. The amount of things you need to know as a coder in order to start coding is probably far less from what you think you should know. The steps used to teach you how to produce your first functional piece of code are simple concepts that build upon one another.

So learning doesn’t stop when you become a coder?

The amount of learning will depend on your own desire to progress. There are jobs out there for absolute beginners. They might not have the variety of work an experienced coder will have but inevitably you will learn new things, and gain new skills. It’s up to you if you take that to a new level once you become very competent at a particular job. Your options will be very clear to you, and resources are available online to achieve them. Most workplaces will be more than happy to train you up if you show interest.

What do you like most about your job?

It’s a job that doesn’t get boring. If you enjoy solving puzzles and problem solving in general, coding is exactly that. The difference in satisfaction is that it’s not the same old puzzle every time, you gain cashable skills and knowledge by cracking these problems and in the end you get paid.

How about job security?

As a coder you have a trade. If you see yourself as someone with no particular skillset, as someone easily replaceable, then coding can change all that. Most coders are seen as experts at what they do and are often invited to give an opinion on matters involving their own expertise. You are asked how much time something will take to do, and get respect for the knowledge you have by the ones who don’t have it.

Is it a job for life?

Coding is a job that has no planned obsolescence. Automation is coming folks. A popular prediction stated that 50% of jobs would be gone by 2030 due to automation. A lot of coding will be required to achieve all this automation! You can only count on your job market being wider, whilst everyone else’s shrinks.

Why would you recommend to somebody a career in coding?

For a start you can earn more. Speaking as someone with primary school education, who, with the help of the internet, learned to code on my own, I could tell you that I make more money than most that have a degree and an equal amount of years of experience in their own trade.

Lovecode Case Study: Katherine Dyson

Katherine is a 33-year-old mother of two from Barnsley, who attended our three day ‘Code + Design + Data’ course in Leeds.

She works in the online department of a greeting card company and initially signed up for the course to acquire digital skills to help her support the company’s website. The company paid a web design agency to design to manage its website but had no employees in-house familiar with coding or web development.

Katherine recognised that the company was unhappy with the speed and progress on some of the agency’s projects but there was no one who knew enough about web development to effectively manage them.

In three days, she went from having no prior coding experience to learning how to programme, develop and design her own website on the Lovecode course.

She said: “Although the Lovecode course packed lots of information into three days, I was surprised at how much I absorbed and how easy it was to remember. Coding isn’t as hard as I thought it would be and now I’m a bit obsessed with it.”

The knowledge she gained has allowed her to significantly contribute to the development and management of her company’s website. She can now communicate more effectively with the web design agency and complete small website updates herself.

“Learning to code and build my own website has allowed me to get a lot more out of the web design agency that our company uses, because I understand how simple some of these tasks are to complete. Suddenly, our web designers were much more responsive and I was able to finally get them to complete a project that had been going on for months, which ultimately saved the company money. I feel like learning to code has increased my credibility in the office and members of my team really listen to what I have to say now that I have these skills.”

Having thoroughly enjoyed her initial experience with coding, she has continued to use the new skill both at work and for personal projects. She is currently developing a website from scratch for her own sewing pattern business and helping a friend develop one for her freelance bookkeeping business.

“Learning to code is extremely important – especially for women – because there is such a need for these skills, but not many opportunities to acquire them. None of my female friends know anything about coding, so there wasn’t any opportunity for me to pick it up and women aren’t typically part of the kinds of networking groups where they might be introduced to these skills. Since I completed Lovecode’s course, I have become something of a coding champion among my friends and I am able to share this knowledge to help other women who are interested in technology or want to develop a website to promote their business.”

Happy Coding At The Lowry

Despite the weather outside we managed to get some smiles from our recent Manchester coding group.

The ‘Code + Design’ and ‘Code + Design + Data’ courses  were held, as usual, on consecutive days over the weekend and on Monday.

We had a great response from all delegates. Here are a couple of the feedback quotes we received:

“Excellent course, lots of information – totally exceeded my expectations”  Dorota

“Antonio had a great delivery and depth of knowledge  but still embraced the needs of the group”  Bernadette

Coding and You

“Everyone should learn to code” – was the well worn mantra of 2014.

Unless you took up residence in a deep dark hole that year, you probably heard this banded about a fair bit with varying degrees of hot air and flimsy truth-mistakes about the state of industries, job markets and the relevance of code and the individual.

It’s a bit disheartening because no matter how sick people are of hearing about the wonders of code — the absolute truth is that digital literacy is still a hot and relevant topic, being prioritised in government agendas and becoming a staple of prospective employer’s tick-lists across many industries.

Careers in programming aside, where according to the government’s National Career Service, starting salaries programmers in the games industry start at an admirable £25,000+, the overarching impression I get from many people is that they feel their jobs are far removed from the need of getting to grips with computer programming, even at a basic level. The logic seems to be; as a marketeer, finance-guru, architect or florist, why in the world should we need to learn about coding?

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My retort usually reels off; a little knowledge of how the wheels on the web keep turning, and how simple things like HTML and CSS work together, can make a tangible difference in your day to day. It can provide invaluable insight to help guide decision making, can help curb expensive out-sourcing, help you understand what your development team are talking about, or for the unemployed, it’s simply invaluable CV fodder.

A basic but core principle; if you understand the processes involved in running your business, your business decisions will be better informed.

In that respect, it’s hard to see why learning a technical skill like coding is meant solely for developers, designers and production assistants — the revelation being that it’s actually more relevant for the small business owners, project managers and directors of the world.

“But how is this applicable to my work day or how I run my business?”. Well … how long is a piece of string?

Know what the hell people are talking about —
Your company is getting a new website built. There is a lot of decision making going on here — and all of it has to be translated into what’s technically possible and more importantly why. It can be a really lengthy and trying process of back and forth between teams, and having even just a little insight about what’s working behind the scenes can make a crucial difference in saving time, money and unnecessary hair loss.

Get your technical team on-side —
The developers in your working life will thank you if you understand even a hint of what they do. You‘ll know how to tell them what needs to be done (instead of referring to everything as a “whatchamacallit“ or “thingamajig“) as well as be more aware of the limits and possibilities they face every day.

Getting hands-on; emails and content management —
Nobody needs to be told that e-mail marketing is one of the best to get into your customer’s lives directly, or that fresh and interesting content is the key to a successful website. A simple grasp of HTML and CSS gives you the power to get hands on; whether crafting stand-out emails or piecing together great bits of content for the web that can capture that precious microsecond of attention from your customers.

No more waiting on overloaded web-teams to action your changes, which means no more unnecessary out-sourcing, which can be a real drain on precious resources.

Teach your team some code —
Speaking of overworked co-workers, a kernal of coding knowledge is yours to share with your colleagues. Multi-role workplaces are becoming more and more commonplace, so imagine being in a position where content management or emarketing can be undertaken by whoever is free at the time — the joys of delegation!

Freelance creative? Build and manage your own portfolio site —
There’s a glut of website platforms that cater for the uninitiated. They provide plug and play templates which are great to an extent, but can be really hard to get what you want without knowing just whats going on in the background, or without knowing how to change basic design elements to suit your needs.

It’s a little daunting, but it‘s actually surprisingly easy to create a simple site that has some real individual flair with a bit of HTML + CSS know-how. And luckily it’s just code — what’s the worst that can happen?

Prototyping and Pitching —
You‘re already a Photoshop wizz-kid with a real eye for design. The problem comes with selling it to the client — mock-ups and pdf presentations only get you so far. Getting hands-on with some HTML and CSS you can turn those designs into clickable prototypes that can help capture the imagination of the client. (It’s worth mentioning that designers who code are rare — aptly being dubbed “unicorns”.)

So besides being able to impress your boss or potential employers, your colleagues will be super happy with slicker, less fragmented work-streams and you may be well on your way to a more fulfilling and lucrative career.