Online coding courses provide a way to learn from the comfort of your own home and in your own time. With them, you can also tailor your learning to the areas you're interested in, and choose courses that match your current level of knowledge.
Many accessible educational tools have popped up in recent years, all of which make learning new web design and development skills more straightforward. The daunting task is finding one that's right for you and your learning style. Looking for something more formal? Take a look at our roundup of the best coding bootcamps.
We've tested and reviewed some of the most popular schools around, to give you a better understanding of the pros and cons of each. Here's our list of the web's best online coding courses.
- From $35/mo
- Free 10-day trial
No discussion of online training would be complete without a mention of Pluralsight. Following an acquisition spree, it now offers the world's biggest online training library.
Of all the tools we dug into, Code School – owned by Pluralsight – was one of the best. Not only does the site look great, but it offers quality content and a great student experience. You can follow a 'path', which will guide you through a succession of different courses, or you can opt for a single course on its own.
The videos are quirky and fun in an after-school special kind of way, and offer a refreshing break from typically dry video tutorials. It's like watching Bill Nye explain things, which is to say, comforting. After viewing a video, you work on your own tasks – relating back to the video if required. If you get really stuck you can 'buy' answers with points you've earned from other classes.
Code School offers a 10-day free trial, so you can try it out for size, or you can buy a monthly subscription for $35/month. If you're looking to splash a few bucks on a learning tool, we would recommend spending your money here.
02. Envato Tuts+
- From $16.50/mo
With online code school Envato Tuts+, you can learn about a number of aspects of design, from coding and web design to 3D and illustration. Users can select from courses (video-based lessons), tutorials (write-ups about different topics) or ebooks (including the ever-popular A Book Apart series), to suit their particular learning style. Envato Tuts+'s monthly subscription gives you access to all these learning materials, plus design resource library Envato Elements.
- $499 per 'blueprint'
- Free 10-day coding bootcamp
Skillcrush is a unique online coding course, and the option here that most closely resembles an actual curriculum in a classroom setting. Users enrol in their chosen three-month 'blueprint' – a bundle of three courses that build on each other.
Skillcrush has expanded its offerings and there are now eight blueprints to choose from, including frontend development, visual design, web development, and UX (the newest course). Alternatively, you can embark on a nine-month bumper programme dedicated to helping you break into tech.
Once enrolled, students have access to not only a classroom setting chat forum with their fellow students, but also to office hours and one-on-one time with their instructor. Skillcrush is currently also offering a free 10-day coding bootcamp.
- Large selection of free courses
- Nanodegrees from around €200 (approx $250)
Udacity offers robust guides to many different topics, with seriously advanced courses on everything from robotics to design theories in everyday life. There's a big selection of free courses on offer here – and not just basic ones, either, but across all skill levels.
Alternatively, Udacity has a range of 'nanodegrees', which cover in-demand skills. Current courses on offer include Design Sprint Foundations and VR Developer. Prices and lengths of course vary dramatically, but the cheapest courses start at around €200.
All courses are summarised before you begin, outlining the difficulty level, why the course is important, any prerequisites for taking it, and the project you will complete at the end. This means you can easily scan through and choose the one that suits you best.
05. Code Avengers
- From $20/mo (6-month plan)
- Free 7-day trial
This online code school offers courses teaching you how to code or build websites, games and apps. There are lessons for total beginners, or if you have a little prior knowledge, you can start at a higher level. There's also a dedicated Junior programme, dedicated to teaching under-16s basic programming and computer literacy skills, via gamified courses. There are activities for users as young as five!
Code Avengers walks you through each process with very simple, step-by-step instructions, starting with minor tasks, while you watch what happens in a mini phone simulator next to your editor. The team has managed a good balance of difficulty: not so tricky you have to cheat, but not so simple you're just copy-pasting.
The site also has the best design we've seen, with illustrations and animations leading you to what you need.
06. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a free online school that's not just focused on coding – there are a wide range of courses on offer, from economics to arts and humanities. Under the Computing section, you'll find courses on computer programming, computer science, coding and animation, all of which are broken up into specific sub-sections.
What's interesting with Khan Academy is that you hear someone talking while they write the code, which feels natural, like you're sitting down with someone. The courses were straightforward, easy to follow and you can then transfer the concepts to the simple exercises.
Sometimes, there are mini-quizzes following a demo, which help you think about things conceptually and understand what the code is doing a little better.
07. Hack Design
The 'courses' here are just collections of aggregated content, whether that's blogs, books, games, tutorials or videos, from around the web. There isn't anything to 'complete' by way of tasks, but if you're after some resource recommendations to help you learn more about a specific part of design, this is a good place to turn.
There are also tool lists with recommendations from people who use them. This is an excellent catalogue of design resources for all levels. It offers great introductory content for beginners and more advanced techniques for those who do this full-time.
- Courses from free
Udemy is an expansive catalogue, filled with thousands of other topics besides web and technology, with prices ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. We would venture to say you could find just about anything you wanted to learn about on here.
Right now it's offering a pretty impressive Black Friday deal: it's knocked the price of several courses right down to £9.99 – many will usually set you back around £150-£200, so that's a mega discount. The vast number of courses available (over 80,000 at time of writing) does make it tricky to dig out the good stuff.
Next page: eight more top online coding courses