Matthew Reed
A Javascript Learning Expedition


A Javascript Learning Expedition

Efficiently completing "Guided Projects"

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Efficiently completing "Guided Projects"

Don't spend time on aesthetics, at least not at first

Matthew Reed's photo
Matthew Reed
·Feb 5, 2023·

3 min read

I am brushing up on my understanding of CSS and HTML. I am using freeCodeCamp's recently updated Responsive Web Design course to do so.

FCC is one of several resources out there available for learners. FCC and the others all generally offer a similar feature wherein the student is guided along, step-by-step, to build something relatively basic in an interactive learning environment.

The students are also usually later asked to build something with minimal instruction. That something is then tested against a set of conditions.

FCC Certification Projects

The FCC course teaches the student basic-intermediate CSS and HTML concepts, via guided projects, each with several steps. There are several guided projects, in several groups.

At the end of each group of guided projects, the student is asked to build something according to minimal instruction.

These are called "Certification Projects".

In the case of this particular course, the "Certification Projects" constitute building a simple webpage (using HTML and CSS), from scratch, using the knowledge the student gained from the guided projects that preceded that particular Certification Project.

In a very basic sense, it will test that x, y, and z is present in the student's solution, such that if the student's solution has x, y, and z, they pass.

If they pass, that particular "Certification Project" is then marked complete. The student then moves on to the next "Certification Project". Rinse and repeat. Once all "Certification Projects" are complete (there are five), the student unlocks the Certificate.

These projects are not a good use of time*

On one hand, these "Certification Projects" [and similar features by similar resources] are an excellent way for a student to apply and draw upon their knowledge of certain concepts without being guided along.

What they are being tested against is objectively right or wrong.

On the other hand, the "Certification Projects" strongly encourage students to spend the time to essentially design the aesthetics of the project--i.e. the colors, the typography, etc.

They also might have the student to spend the time to fill it with actual content.

In some regard, if you intend to quickly learn basic technical concepts, it is probably not the best use of your time to pour over how it looks, or to fill it with actual content.

The former goes into art/design territory, which although fun, is subjective at best. The latter is really just about getting you to think of actual information that you want to share with the world.

Neither is a good use of your time, at least not right now.

Don't sweat the aesthetic or the content

Don't spend too much time worrying about how it looks. Don't worry if it "isn't pretty". Don't worry about filling it with content.

Developing and retaining your understanding of the underlying semantic and technical concepts is more important than how it looks and more important than filling it with actual content, at least early on in your learning journey.

If the project calls for "actual paragraphs" just use the Lorem Ipsum generator.

If anything, you can return to these simple little projects later as to the design/aesthetic part.

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