OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part I)

learning to code skillcrush

learning to code skillcrush

learning to code skillcrush

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! (For those of you who were around this time last year, OWS co-head honcho Sara was test driving the Blueprints -- check out her breakdown here. She’s now passed the torch!) Take it away, Ashley.


Starting my own one woman shop has always been a dream of mine. But despite reading this blog for a while and being endlessly inspired by other women solopreneurs, it wasn’t until recently that I decided I wanted to build a business as a web designer.

I’ve always loved working on and customizing my own WordPress sites in the past, but had a barrier to being able to build a business around helping other women with their websites: I needed to learn a lot more about coding and web design beyond what I had taught myself. So I started searching online -- and, well, there a lot of places to go! I was completely overwhelmed until I stumbled upon Skillcrush.

Skillcrush is an online coding company teaching a plethora of digital skills. Skillcrush Career Blueprints are each made up of three classes to teach you the exact skills you need to become a web designer, web developer, WordPress developer, Ruby on Rails developer, and more.

I dipped my toes in with Skillcrush’s free 10-day bootcamp: fun, informative videos, interactive lessons, and a dive into HTML. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with their classes. After completing the bootcamp and watching a few Skillcrush webinars, I decided to sign up for the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint.

Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint

In October of 2015, I started the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint. Like all Skillcrush Blueprints (except Front End Developer), the Web Designer Blueprint consists of three classes. The Web Designer classes include UX & Web Design, HTML & CSS, and JavaScript & jQuery. All three classes, which run for a month each, were informative and helpful in giving me a jumping off point into web design -- especially since I’d never really dabbled too far into any of it before.

What’s in a Skillcrush Blueprint

All Skillcrush Blueprints are set up similarly. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The classes are self-paced. Each morning, you receive an email with a link to that day’s materials (videos, downloads, worksheets) and often a few supplemental materials, as well. You can expect to spend about 30 to 40 minutes per day on the class work. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, you can spend a few hours batching the work each weekend. Since the classes are self-paced, it’s truly up to you.
  • You have lifetime access to the classes, so you can always look back if you get stuck in a later class -- and if you fall behind, you can choose to catch up or just pick up where you left off. Honestly? In self-paced classes like this, I don’t really think there is a “behind.”
  • The lessons come with suggested homework for each day, and an interactive platform where you can upload or save what you’ve been working on.
  • Each Blueprint has an associated community on Mightybell where you can turn to get your questions answered. The questions are answered by the designated teacher, teacher’s assistant and other class members. It’s very community oriented.

What do you need before starting a Blueprint?

Depending on the Blueprint, there may be a prerequisite. The Web Designer Blueprint and Front End Developer Blueprint do not have any prerequisites, but all the other Blueprints have a prerequisite of at least knowing HTML & CSS. (Not at an expert level, but a comfortable level.)

Even without a prerequisite, you will need to make sure you have the time to invest in doing the Blueprint. While you can take each differently -- for example, on one of the classes, I worked ahead on and learned as much as possible because I was going out of town, whereas another I did the class as I received each email -- each one will still require a designated time investment.

Beyond the Blueprint

Skillcrush truly builds a community around each Blueprint. Beyond your Mightybell community, there are also weekly “office hours” held via Google Hangouts, where your teacher can answer any questions related to the projects you are putting together in class.

The teachers are current web designers and developers. Some of the teachers work at other companies, plus teach Skillcrush classes, while some teachers own their own businesses. The teachers are pretty interactive on Mightybell. Your level of engagement on Mightybell is entirely up to you.

In addition, once per month, there is a “Circle Chat” -- a big group chat/forum where you can ask questions and meet other people in your class. It’s a great time to meet up and start collaborations, if that’s what you’re looking for.

They also have monthly Master Classes, where they interview someone from the tech industry like Adda Birnir, Randle Browning, and Rachel Papst. They teach classes about writing resumes, social media, project management and more. You also have access to the backlog of Master Classes. The interviews give great insight into the tech industry and have been helpful in teaching new skills like how to transition from a non-tech job to a tech job.

Setting you up for a career

Skillcrush isn’t just about teaching you the skills -- they are all about helping you launch a career based on them. Each Blueprint comes with an additional program taking you step-by-step through what you need to do to jumpstart a career in tech, called a Career Path.

The Career Path takes you through building a portfolio, getting organized, and tips and strategies on finding a job. Learning how to create a portfolio and a website to advertise my new skills as a web designer will help me to promote my one woman shop. These same skills can help someone just looking to transition to a new career in tech.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint is for

Skillcrush is a great way to get started if this is the first time taking a class on web design or you’ve just dabbled in web design. The Blueprint is a comprehensive approach to learning web design: It doesn’t just teach foundational HTML & CSS. In the UX & Web Design class, you learn wireframing, user experience, a little Photoshop, and how to create and use sitemaps. (And if you don’t know what any of that means, then the class is perfect for you because you’ll learn it all!) The thing I love about Skillcrush is that you’re not jumping from site to site wondering if you’re learning it the right way or learning it well. I felt comfortable that I was learning what I needed to know to design a website from scratch.

After going through the Blueprint, I now know what I need to prepare for a meeting with a potential client, how to outline a sitemap for them, and where to start on the layout of their site -- things I had no clue on before.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint isn’t for

Like any course, one Skillcrush Blueprint cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know about web design. You have to be willing to hit roadblocks and run Google searches.

In addition, if you’ve dabbled in HTML or CSS before or have built a website from scratch, the Web Designer Blueprint may not be advanced enough for you. Advanced Blueprints from Skillcrush include a Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, Mobile Web Designer Blueprint and Ruby on Rails Developer Blueprint that may be more suited for someone that is familiar with HTML and CSS. It’s also possible to take individual classes, so if you know HTML & CSS, but not UX & Web Design, you could just take that one class.

The team at Skillcrush is great in helping you get on the path you need. If you ever have any questions you can always email someone at Skillcrush or use the chat box at the bottom of the page when you sign in.

Are you interested in Skillcrush?

If you’re curious about Skillcrush and how the Blueprints are run, take their free 10-Day Bootcamp. It will give you a great taste for what the paid classes are like.

What’s next for me

The next step for me is take the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. I’ve always loved the WordPress CMS and I’ve always wanted to build sites on that platform. Since Skillcrush has classes teaching all about being a Freelance WordPress Developer and that’s what I want to be, it’s the next logical step. I’ve really enjoyed learning with Skillcrush and am so excited to start my business soon with the skills that I am learning. The WP Blueprint outlines exactly what you need to do build a freelance business, plus the skills to make it happen.

Stay tuned: Over the next three months, I’ll be walking you through the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint here on the One Woman Shop blog!

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave 'em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from -- and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

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Ashley is a growing web designer and developer in the process of starting her own one woman shop and blog. She can't wait to help bloggers and solopreneurs build brands and websites they love. She spends her free time building her blog, taking photos, watching Netflix, hanging with her family and friends, and reading about entrepreneurship.

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