180 Websites in 180 Days: How I Learned to Code

Who says girls can't code? Jennifer Dewalt, a fine artist turned web developer, taught herself to code by building 180 websites in 180 days.

I was never big on New Year’s resolutions, until I had a serious goal: 2013 was going to be the year I finally learned to code. And despite having no technical background, I decided to take the JFDI approach (just f--king do it). I was going to build 180 websites in 180 days.

My background is in fine art. I was drawn to art because it provides a platform for exploring how people communicate and interact. In the past, I used sculptures and drawings to explore interpersonal communication, but soon I began thinking about technology. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with how cool it is to be able to communicate through the internet, and I realized no drawing could capture that power. I wanted to get in there and build those communication channels myself.

The question, of course, was how. There are plenty of courses to take or boot camps to join, but none really appealed to me. I decided a self-directed project would be the best way to stay motivated and learn quickly. So I set out a few simple rules:

  1. Build a different website everyday for 180 consecutive days.
  2. Every website must be accompanied by a blog post.
  3. Any code I write must be made publicly available so that everyone can see it.

It was scary to have all of my mistakes out in the open--but if you want to learn to code, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Putting everything out in public helped me get over my fear of being wrong. I pieced together a few bits of code and made the website for day 1, the homepage for the project. The next day I did a little more, and the following day a little more.

Getting over that fear of being wrong was important, and one of the first things I learned was that I am my own harshest critic. In the beginning, I put a ton of pressure on myself to be perfect. I was concerned with getting every detail right and I felt like a total failure if the day’s website didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. It was driving me insane. Learning is messy and throughout the project I continually had to remind myself that "not perfect" does not equal "failure."

Some days were unimaginably frustrating. I could work on a website all day only to realize it was totally broken and I’d have to scramble to slap something together at the last minute. Other days I felt like I was kicking butt and telling the computer what for. Whichever it was, having something concrete to point to at the end of the day to say "I made this" was  motivating. Even if the site wasn’t perfect, I had accomplished something.

I put the finishing touches on my final website on Sept. 27--and it’s humbling to see how far I’ve come. I still have a lot to learn about programming, but I am excited to continue my life as a coder--and share my code with the world.

180 Websites in 180 Days

Day 180 Hello World!
Day 179 All Draw
Day 177 One Drawing
Day 176 Color Jam
Day 175 Buggy
Day 174 Talking Dude
Day 173 Paths
Day 172 Chromatones
Day 170 GFBOOM!
Day 168 Polychrome
Day 167 Coded
Day 166 Assault
Day 165 Audio Garden
Day 164 Taste
Day 163 Picture Pen
Day 162 Window
Day 161 Mousing
Day 160 Lunar Phase
Day 159 Minesweeper
Day 158 Teammates
Day 157 Commerce
Day 156 Color Walk
Day 155 Chatty Room
Day 154 What Day?
Day 153 Lights On
Day 152 Letter Storm
Day 151 Portrait
Day 150 Salon
Day 148 Pollsie
Day 145 Morse Coder
Day 144 Tweet Time
Day 143 Color Picker
Day 142 Boom
Day 141 Must Write
Day 139 Elevations
Day 137 Open Note
Day 136 Other Side
Day 135 Image Editor
Day 132 SHARKS!
Day 131 Word Cloud
Day 130 Wall of Cats
Day 129 Photobooth
Day 128 You Are Here
Day 126 Picnic
Day 124 Screwdriver
Day 123 Plinky
Day 122 Balloon
Day 120 Button Maker
Day 119 To Do List
Day 118 MishMosh
Day 116 Glob Glob
Day 112 Check Sketch
Day 110 Effects
Day 109 ColorWorks
Day 108 Algae Tank
Day 106 Wish
Day 103 Word Clock
Day 102 Drying Paint
Day 101 Globulator
Day 100 Song Machine
Day 99 TOS
Day 96 PostBored
Day 95 Sparklers
Day 94 Mastermind
Day 93 Swivel
Day 91 Pinwheel
Day 89 Hourglass
Day 86 Snare
Day 83 Hollywood
Day 81 Capture
Day 80 Tiny Notes
Day 78 Hangman
Day 77 YourSpace
Day 76 PixShow
Day 73 Keep It Up
Day 71 One Page
Day 68 Metronome
Day 67 World Time
Day 65 Fade
Day 61 Fix It
Day 60 Fizz Buzz
Day 58 Fireworks
Day 56 Hooray
Day 54 Calculator
Day 51 Memory
Day 50 Color War
Day 48 Static
Day 47 PONG
Day 46 Snake
Day 41 Light Bulb
Day 35 Buttons!
Day 27 Rain Maker
Day 26 Simon
Day 23 Stopwatch
Day 14 Tough Love
Day 1 Homepage