To code, or not to code. That is [not] the question.
“Everyone should learn to code” – the well worn mantra of 2014.
Unless you took up residence in a deep dark hole last 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?
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.