Going Back to the Basics with FreeCodeCamp's Responsive Web Design Course

I've been working with HTML and CSS heavily for about 4 years now, and I considered myself proficient with them. I've begun looking for full-time remote web developer roles; I want to boost my chances of hire as much as possible, and as I don't have a CS degree, I've decided to work my way through some certs to strengthen my resume. FreeCodeCamp (FCC) certifications are free, and even though theoretically one could cheat their way through the courses for the certs, it does require you to create projects, and I created all of mine from scratch, which are all hosted on my CodePen profile.

I just completed the Responsive Web Design Certification course, which I thought I would fly through, as it covers core concepts I've been working with for a while now. I did complete it relatively quickly, and most of it was review, but I came out of it with even more proficiency with HTML and CSS, and I have much more confidence in my skill level with both after completing the course.

The course starts with the bare basics - if you've never coded in your life before, this really is a great starting point. As you progress through the lessons, they, as expected, become more advanced and cover topics including accessibility, page responsiveness, CSS Grid, and CSS Flexbox. At the end of the course, you must create 5 projects that must include specific "user stories" (requirements) on CodePen:

  • Tribute page
  • Survey form
  • Product landing page
  • Technical documentation page
  • Personal portfolio page

While you can fork projects from FreeCodeCamp's site to use as frameworks for the projects, the most beneficial way to learn and gain experience is to create them yourself.

Not only are they great for learning, but they provide you with multiple projects you can list on your own portfolio or resume so potential employers or clients can get a sense of your style and skill level. Once you submit all five projects, you also receive a certification, which can be listed on your resume and LinkedIn. FreeCodeCamp certifications may not be worth as much as a CS degree, but they show that you put in the time to study a specific skill, and you will have projects to back that up.

Also, because you are focusing on just a couple of specific skills (HTML/CSS for the Web Responsiveness Course), you get a chance to REALLY practice those, and not worry about other languages or frameworks (there are other certifications for those!). In my spare time, I work with Gatsby and React, and it was very beneficial to take JavaScript out of the picture for the FCC projects so I was able to strengthen my CSS abilities.

Overall, I highly recommend giving the Responsive Web Design course a go if you haven't already, even if you do have experience with the basics. It's great practice, you can build useable projects, and you walk away with a certification of completion (which, even if you don't use on your resume, it's great for bragging rights!).

Image credit: Florian Olivo, Unsplash

Rahul's photo

Wooah ! the first line, 4 years seriously. For me it's been just some months and still practicing them. FCC was awesome though. It is just same as codecademy but free. Amazing post.

Sarah Shook-Rowles's photo

Thanks! It's great, I've started the JavaScript course, and that one is also good! Excited to see what else I'll learn!

Brenda Michelle's photo

Great post! I had the same thoughts about the Responsive Web Design Course. I thought I was going to fly through it but I learned a lot. Especially about flexbox and CSS Grid. The projects are great practice as well.

Sarah Shook-Rowles's photo

They were great practice! My favorite (small) section was about making shapes from CSS. I was a little surprised to find that gem in the course, and I want to explore that aspect even more when I find some time!