So, you work on the non-technical side of the website, and you’re moving towards programming. Great! It can be a long journey, but it’s definitely doable.
Learning to program can be a long jump from where you are now. Let’s consider some stepping stones that will allow you to move gradually towards where you want to be. I’ll show you how you can expand your existing skill set and create an opportunity for yourself to practice various technical skills—while you are still in a content-related role.
While writing this article, I realized that in my career, I followed a similar path. Over those years:
And that’s how I got back to programming.
As you see, there is an overlap between:
Content is everything that is published online. This article is most relevant for content in the form of text published on websites. Audio, videos, or posts on social platforms are content too, but either the medium (audio or video) or the platform makes it difficult to use tools mentioned in this article.
Who could use these tools for their job:
From what I’ve seen, people working on the content often use user-friendly tools. They are great for getting things done, but they don’t give you much room for growth. If possible, as you aim to transition to IT, you should try moving away from them.
Great value for money. A text editor that lets you get work done easily. Most people are familiar with the interface. It’s online-first, and with comments and suggestions, it works very well for collaboration.
What You See Is What You Get. These are editors that abstract away the format of the text you edit and display it in a way similar to what the user will see. It simplifies the work of a content creator. As for downsides, it allows for ugly tricks such as adding empty paragraphs to the place where a new-page or some margin would be more appropriate.
Below are some tools you may already use and will definitely want to check out if you want to get into frontend or programming in general.
Depending on what system you use for storing the content, it can be possible for you to edit directly HTML. It will be more complicated than using a WYSIWYG editor, but you will be able to:
Language compiled to HTML that is very popular among programmers. It’s more concise than HTML, and it limits your options to the point where you have less possibility of shooting yourself in the foot while achieving almost all reasonable use cases. Example of markdown:
# Title Some paragraph. * item of unordered list, * another one
You can use Markdown:
README.md, it will appear on the main page of the repo, for example.
Any content management system (CMS) will allow you to expand your understanding a bit. You can learn it as a user and use this knowledge as you learn to build websites with it.
What CMSs are worth learning? I’m not the best source of advice here because the last time I worked in that space was 10 years ago. However, I can say that in general, whatever is used in your community is a good bet. Below are some CMSs I was using that are still around:
What are some purely technical skills that could be somehow adjacent to content creation?
The version control system of our age. If you intend to become a programmer and still don’t use Git, I recommend learning it as a priority.
Even if you use Git while working on one-person projects, there's a chance you're missing important skills such as:
Are you interested in learning more about Git? Knowing how it stores data helps a lot in understanding plenty of its quirks. You can read more in my article how Git stores data.
Managing content on WordPress is one thing, but setting up WordPress from scratch is another thing. I don’t remember meeting anybody excited about becoming a website builder, but:
Taking care of a project that runs on a CMS gives you a lot of learning opportunities. For example:
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