8 Mistakes to Avoid While Learning to Code

In this article, we’ll lens it down to some major mistakes people make while starting out with programming and how to avoid them.

8 mistakes to avoid while learning to code blog thumbnail

Avoid these eight mistakes while learning to code. Enhance your coding journey by sidestepping these pitfalls and becoming a proficient programmer with patience and practice.

Learning to code sounds intimidating to many folks out there. It doesn't change the fact that coding is one of the most sought-after and important skills today. As the world relies more and more on technology, the demand for programmers increases.

And not just from the career’s point of view, coding is a fantastic skill to learn even for people in marketing, product, and other areas of work. It can help people grow in multiple ways, from developing first-principled thinking to problem-solving.

People from CS and IT backgrounds obviously get good exposure to coding, but that doesn’t mean people from other backgrounds should limit themselves. Learning to code is just like learning another language and anyone can do it at any point in time.

Anyone can learn to code, regardless of background or experience, if they approach it correctly. However, learners often make mistakes that can slow down their progress.

Now, let’s come to the intimidating part. Beginners often imply the wrong strategies while starting out on their own and see themselves getting nowhere in time.

A search on the internet exposes them to hundreds of resources and it simply gets overwhelming for them.  They want to learn everything and anything they can get their hands on. As a result, there’s no proper structure and no practice, and they tend to give up in 2-3 months.

In this article, we’ll lens it down to some major mistakes people make while starting out with programming and how to avoid them. Let’s get started-

Not starting with the basics

It's important to have a solid foundation in the fundamentals of programming before moving on to more advanced topics. Skipping the basics or trying to learn too much at once can lead to confusion and make it difficult to progress. This is the most common mistake that learners make. They start rushing into writing codes without having a solid foundation of coding. Take your time to build a foundation and learn fundamentals.

Strong houses are built on strong foundations. The same is true for everything else in life. Many students pick up HTML and CSS without completely understanding computer architecture and data fundamentals.

The problem with that is even if you somehow learn them, you wouldn’t know how to implement your learnings in the bigger scheme of things.

Here’s a sequence of steps you can follow to learn coding in a fruitful way-

  • Understand computer architecture and data fundamentals.
  • Learn about programming languages and how the internet works.
  • Learn Some Command-Line basics

And then you can pick up HTML and CSS and advance further.

Trying to learn multiple languages at once

When you first start coding, one of the worst mistakes you can make is not sticking with one language. While it is certainly possible, and many people may even suggest it, learning many languages can be quite frustrating.

There are several principles that distinguish one programming language from another. For example, C is a low-level procedural language that employs ';' to end statements, but Python is an interpreted high-level object-oriented language that uses indentation.

Apart from differing in how they're oriented and other principles linked with the languages, they also differ in syntax. Keeping up with these changes while trying to learn might be confusing and considerably slow down your learning curve, especially if you're a beginner.

A better method would be to learn and master your first language. After that, you'll have the confidence to begin learning a new language(s), which will be easier for you because you're already familiar with basic programming ideas.

Furthermore, if you initially learn to program in a low-level language like Java, C, or C++, learning high-level languages will be a breeze because you now grasp the fundamental architecture of how things function closer to the machine.

Overall, sticking to one language and mastering it can assist you in two ways:  

  • to build the foundational knowledge,
  • and to gain the confidence to learn other languages afterward.

Spending more time researching than coding

What programming language or framework should I study? Which database should I learn first?

Beginners frequently become confused and do unending research on technologies, languages, or frameworks, which is one of the most typical but significant mistakes they make during the initial phases.

It is perfectly OK to conduct some research on a language or framework, but over-analyzing technology for months will not yield great outcomes.

Remember that you can't learn to code unless you get your hands dirty.

It's all about practice and producing actual code rather than simply reading about it. Whatever technology, language, or framework you choose, your problem-solving ability is extremely important in coding.

So, instead of reading about languages and conducting endless research, start solving real problems.

Here are a few sites where you can practice coding:

Practice coding sites for beginners
Source: Flatiron 

Coding Without Planning

It's tempting to jump right in and begin writing code. However, by doing so, you are setting yourself up for logic errors and hours of rewriting code that could have been avoided if you had planned first.

Whether it is a simple coding challenge or a complex project, planning on paper before you begin coding will help you analyze scenarios you may have ignored and avoid logic errors.

This "planning" can be as simple as preliminary pseudocode of the coding problem or a general project workflow.

Try segmenting the problem down into pieces so you can deal with it individually. Instead of starting with the first answer, you come across, consider other viable solutions. Determine which one works best given your limits.

To become skilled at coding, it's essential to practice periodically. Make sure to allocate a portion of your day to coding challenges or projects.  It is also essential to stick to one resource because too many programming languages and resources can lead to information overload. It also results in not being able to execute a code.

You are not required to get every last detail correct. Be adaptable; your original ideas may evolve. The most important thing is to have a high-level understanding of how your program will work. This will not only save you time but will also allow you to explore and assess multiple ways to address the problem.

Not interacting with the community

Many beginners avoid interacting with other developers or programming groups owing to imposter syndrome or other factors.

But, it's usually a good idea to connect with the programming community so you may learn from one another. StackOverflow, Reddit, and other internet platforms not only help in finding solutions to code-related difficulties but also in learning the finest coding method from top programmers all over the world.

Maintain as much activity on these platforms as possible, and don't be afraid to attend events or provide comments on these online platforms. Many beginners code in isolation, avoiding feedback from others. Join coding communities or forums to share your work and get constructive criticism. This will help you improve faster.

Duplicating someone else's Code

When you code a problem, a slew of errors appear. Even when you fix the syntactical mistakes, you're left with code that doesn't work, and you have no idea why.

Faced with a stumbling block as a result of this logic error, you decide to Google the problem and try imitating another way instead.

While there is no harm in experimenting with different approaches to obtain the outcome, leaving logic flaws unsolved can set you up for a slew of similar problems in the long run.

After all, your approach is the first thing that came to mind. As a result, it is critical to understand what is wrong with a certain strategy and why it cannot be employed, so that when you encounter a similar situation in the future, your mind will know which way not to go.

When your code fails to produce the desired results, don't abandon it until you figure out why. After all, learning is more than just finding solutions that work; it is also about identifying those that don't and understanding why they don't. While learning to code, we must take that we will not get the code right in one go. We still know, and being too focused on the results may discourage us from accepting the learning curve.

Not writing clean code

We understand. When you initially start developing code, your main goal is to get it to work and produce the necessary results. However, in addition to producing code that functions correctly, you must also ensure that it is of high quality.

This involves anything from correctly formatting your code to using relevant variable names and commenting here and there to ensure that the code still makes sense when you review it. A code editor will make our work easier and faster. Using an editor to change codes wherever needed is essential to avoid any unnecessary errors.

Version control can help you fix mistakes. It can go back to earlier versions of your code. So, to use it is necessary to re-write the complete code again.

In addition, you may be required to work on a collaborative project in the future, which may entail reviewing and debugging the code of others. Consider how difficult it would be to understand the other person's thinking while dealing with sloppy coding.

Clean code meme
Source: Programming memes

Your code should be simple to read, understand, and alter if necessary. Some easy methods include:

  • Variables and functions should have names that reveal their intent- For example, instead of 'x,' specify the number of pupils in a class as students.' Instead of arbitrary names like 'func' or 'func1', call a function that calculates the factorial of a number 'fac()' or 'factorial()'.
  • Comment as needed, but don't go overboard- Be careful to include remarks that explain your goal. Inform of potential implications, errors, and vital details. For instance, / this script will take a very long time to execute.
  • Create code that is visually appealing- Would you ever want to read a collection of random statements all written in a single line? It's every developer's worst fear, believe me. Identify blocks of code, utilize whitespaces, and always change lines after statements to write code that looks good and is easy to understand

Giving up right before the transition

To learn to program, you must have a lot of patience and time. Programmers must exercise discipline, focus, time, effort, and attention. Many beginners give up just when they are starting to notice results. And it usually happens as a result of a lack of patience and irritation in programming. A lot of things in programming are intimidating, and when we realize we aren't moving any closer to become effective programmers, we give up easily.

It can be frustrating. Getting codes incorrect again and again can create discouragement. Perseverance is key in coding. Learn to debug effectively and understand that mistakes are part of the process.

Every beginner should recognize that they are not alone in dealing with this issue. Coding is a journey, and it's perfectly fine to take the wrong approach to learn to code at first.

Rather than giving up on coding, learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future.

So, these were the 8 most common mistakes students make when they start to learn coding. But we believe that a list shouldn't end this without some special mentions:

Not seeking help when needed

It's natural to get stuck or encounter errors while learning to code. It's important to ask for help when you need it, whether that means asking a colleague, reaching out to a mentor, or posting a question on a forum or online community.

Not staying up to date with new technologies

The field of computer science and software development is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay up to date with new technologies and best practices. This can be achieved through continued learning and staying engaged with the community.

Wrapping Up

That brings us to the end of this article. We hope you learned the apt approach to programming, and more importantly, what not to do. We also hope that you incorporate the right steps, and practice, and eventually grow into a good programmer in a short span of time.

Here are a few other important resources:

1. 7 Internship Tips to Grab a Full-Time Offer

2. 10 Tech Podcasts Developers Must Listen to in 2023

3. 7-Step Approach to Solve Any Coding Problem (Important for Interviews)

4. 12 Career Options in Software Development

5. A Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a DSA Expert

Learning to code is an enjoyable endeavour that needs patience, commitment, and the skill to learn from errors. To make your coding journey better, avoid these common mistakes. Remember that all coders have encountered these challenges before, no matter how much experience they have. So, don't let them discourage you. Embrace learning, and you'll become a good programmer with practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I overcome frustration when learning to code?

Break problems into smaller steps, take breaks, seek help from communities, improve debugging skills, celebrate small wins, practice patience, use project management tools, and view mistakes as learning opportunities to manage frustration effectively.

How long does it take to become a good coder?

The time of proficiency depends upon the individual's efforts and targets. Practising and learning with consistent efforts may take several months or a few years.

How can I seek feedback?

You may join online forums and the community to seek feedback or have an accountability partner for the same.