Learning Code As a Designer

The desire to learn to code has come and go multiple times over the span of my design career, but the fear of {words in curly brackets with: colons} has always outweighed the desire to acquire the skill. In 2013 I decided to at least give HTML and CSS a go. I successfully managed to complete a relatively easy course on Codeacademy.

Webflow’s easy drag-and-drop platform and the busyness of life, alienated me from this new acquired knowledge quite soon.

And so time flies… It’s nearly a 1000 earth orbits later, and I’m still as afraid of code as I was in 2013. But it’s different this time. I decided not to abide to fear. I’ll rather not learn to code because of some other lame excuse than being too afraid. I’ve completed several grueling trail races before, learned After Effects, many other software applications and married a beautiful woman:). I was convinced that even if don’t master writing code, I can at the very least overcome the fear of not trying.

So 2 months ago I plunged into the world of Swift.

I was clueless about Xcode, iOS and Swfit when I bought Meng To’s Design + Code material, but it got me out of the starting blocks. Learning Xcode’s Storyboard was fairly easy and made me naively confident about my new adventure. I was excited and spending my early mornings, evenings and weekends learning Xcode was fun and I was finally overcoming my fear! (The problem with naivety though is that you think you know but actually you don’t.)

A couple of weeks ago, one morning, it dawned on me that I was still clueless and afraid. A seemingly simple piece of code like this

class MenuItems:NSObject {
    var sections:[String] = []
    var items:[[String]] = []
    func addSection(section: String, item:[String]){
        sections = sections + [section]
        items = items + [item]

was gibberish to me. I really didn’t get it. I was discouraged and I wanted to quit. Again.

I had to ask myself a very important question that morning: “How badly do you want to learn code, Steyn?” The answer to the question would determine whether I would slowly fade out and quit and maybe try again in a few years time or, whether I will push through the slump, even if it was only for that day.

I decided to press on…

It’s been 2 weeks now and I’ve been asking myself that question every morning since then. Some mornings the desire to learn is stronger than other mornings, but the question stays the same: “How badly do you want to learn code?”

Is learning code as a designer easy? No. At least not for me. But with Stack Overflow, 100’s of free tutorials,  and a bunch of geeks around me, I’m fighting ahead to become a better designer and problem solver.

To learning code as a designer!

Image from Wikipedia