Social Distillery Employees Up Their (Design) Ante

Amidst a fast-paced industry, we believe in and embrace the power of education and innovation. It’s our why. Furthermore, the lines of technology, creativity and communication are continuously blurring. That’s even more reason why we decided to invest in our future and our employees by sending them to MakerSquare‘s 10-week, front-end, coding program.

“We were very excited to send Elissa and Lana to MakerSquare’s Part-Time program because it’s critical to continue to learn and advance your skills. Also, this new knowledge will help them be even more successful in their current roles as they often work with programs where coding knowledge is needed.” – Leigh Pankonien.

For the past several weeks, Elissa Fontenot, Social Media Coordinator, and Lana Marshall, Graphic Designer, have been attending part-time, evening courses to learn the ins and outs of front-end web development. MakerSquare’s course focuses on the theory and application of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Read on to learn about their experience and the benefits of learning front-end development:

In 140 characters or less, explain your experience at MakerSquare.

E: It’s been great to learn from seasoned developers skills that can be used daily!

L: I’ve learned practical, real-world web development skills, in a fun environment, from people who are damn good at their job.

Why did you want to learn front-end web development?

E: I went into the class to get a better understanding of HTML and CSS. I took a course in college way back when but knew I needed a refresher with more technical background. It has definitely been an experience to relearn HTML and CSS. You truly have to reprogram how you think to really understand Javascript.

L: I wanted to take the front-end development course to add to my skill set as a designer and be able to not only make things look pretty, but make them functional and interactive as well. I took a couple of web design courses in college, but still didn’t feel confident afterwards that I’d learned the skills necessary to build a site that was on-target with modern web design trends. I also felt like I’d lost a lot of what I’d learned since then and I thought MakerSquare’s part-time course would be a great way to dive back in.

How do you think learning front-end development will benefit you and your work at Social Distillery?

E: It’s a new way of thinking. Even after I took the course in college I began viewing websites differently and was always curious how I could apply the same concepts to my personal website. Working in social media we are always curating content from various sources, sometimes it’s necessary to use Google Developer Tools to access an item. The front-end course is giving me the skills to know what I’m looking at and understand it. For work it’ll be great to provide feedback on our website design and even help alter pieces of the website.

L: As the graphic designer at a social media agency, the vast majority of my designs end up on the web and I think it’s always helpful to gain a better understanding of your platform. I’m also hoping I’ll be able to use what I learn at MakerSquare to style Facebook apps and email newsletters for clients, as well as help improve upon and make changes to Social Distillery’s website.

What are the most technical skills you’ve learned so far? What’s been the most challenging or exciting?

E: Javascript. Javascript is definitely the most challenging and technical skill I’ve ever come across. They say everyone has trouble with Javascript, even seasoned developers. It’s something that I wish I had more time to devote to as repetition is key in learning a new skill sometimes.

L: Javascript and jQuery have both been the most technical, challenging and exciting skills I’ve learned so far. It requires a way of thinking very different from HTML and CSS. I was one of those weirdos in high school who really enjoyed math, so I find the formulaic problem solving aspect of writing Javascript really appealing, albeit challenging and often headache-inducing. It’s also very exciting to be able to use Javascript to make dynamic, interactive websites. It opens up a ton of new doors!

Do you have any advice for professionals looking to add web-development to their skill set? What are some of the resources you’ve been exposed to that could help?

E: Utilize online resources like Codecademy and commit to doing the lessons daily! It takes 21 days to make a habit so make it a point to do at least one lesson a day. You can also look to the tech community for help. You might run into a section of Codecademy that you need verbal explanation from someone so having a friend or mentor that can talk you through something is a great resource. Programming IS another language, with out constant practice and discussion you won’t retain the knowledge and you definitely can get frustrated.

L: Take advantage of free online resources, like Codecademy and Code School, and forums like Stack Overflow. There’s plenty of them out there to get yourself started. If you don’t know something, Google it. Use the Developer Tools in Google Chrome to see how websites you like are coded. And practice, practice, practice. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in learning this stuff and that’s okay. Work at it everyday, even if it’s just for 20 minutes sometimes.

Before you go, be sure to check out Lana’s stunning personal website that she put together using all of her new skills. Connect with @ElissaFontenot,  @Lana7601 and the entire @SocialDistiller team on Twitter.

Recommended Posts