Improving your skillset with play

You’ve learned something about coding or web development. But how do you really solidify that knowledge? What can you do to expand your skillset? For me, the answer is to practice and play.

My coding journey is pretty typical. Learn something, build something. Learn something else. Build something else. But sometimes I would feel that I didn’t really understand what I was doing.

Then I decided that every few days, I would stop and make something for practice. So I created little landing pages, floating elements all over the place. Sometimes I would just break things. I would go through my CSS file and comment out my code just to see what would happen. Having this no-pressure, I can send it to trash, no one will ever see it coding exercise helped me to understand web development much more deeply.

As my skillset grew creating complete practice sites became a bit cumbersome. So I switched to adding features to existing sites. Skillcrush offered a couple of new bonus projects at the beginning of the pandemic to help students keep busy during all the craziness. They’re designed using floats but I took the skills I had recently acquired after taking an Advanced CSS course and made them responsive using Flexbox and CSS grid. (Want to see? Here’s the recipe project and the vision board.)

And sometimes I would see if I could create something useful – like a template that I could copy/paste into a new project. Instant navigation! Codepen is excellent for a project like this.

This Pen has all the basics plus a color change on hover, and an underline for accessibility. It was super simple but I use it all the time to quickly add to a project or show a student.

Reinforcing your skillset isn’t difficult or even that time consuming. Look for small opportunities like these to figure out how things work, add a small feature, or to see how much you can complete from memory. It’s fun and really works. 😀