Category Archives: learning resources

Learning to code

People sometimes ask me how to learn to code.

I always recommend solving a real problem for real people, because it forces you to learn whatever is needed to solve that problem.

That is, after all, what coding is – the commitment to learn whatever is needed to solve problems (because almost every new problem requires learning some new coding library, strategy, skill, etc.).

In my opinion a ‘coder’ is someone who has the confidence take on any coding-related problem in the knowledge that they can learn whatever is required to solve it.

Put another way, I’m saying that learning another skill isn’t what makes you a coder – what makes you a coder is accepting that you need to continually learn new coding skills.

So don’t focus on acquiring skills as a goal in and of itself. Instead, have confidence that you can learn as you go and, therefore, start solving real problems for real people right now.

Start with small problems and work your way up over time.

Visualization resources


Conferences / Community
Consultants / Creators:

User Experience Design

A modest investment in user experience (UX) design can deliver products and services that your customers love to use and recommend to others. Here are some excellent learning resources on the topic:
Adaptive Path
Consulting firm Adaptive Path runs a number of excellent UX events each year and publishes all of them on its podcast, along with a number of interviews with stakeholders from their client base. The MX talks are generally for management and UX talks for designers but there’s good crossover – I usually recommend that people start with MX Conference 2007 talks and then follow their interests.
Give IDEO a ‘product, service or environment’ challenge and they’ll create an empathic design for you. They’re generous with their methods and are prolific writers & speakers.
Boxes and Arrows
B&A run a journal for the information architecture community which contains good UX and usability design information, often recast from other sources. They also provide a useful entry point to a wide range of other user experience resources if you’re looking for more.
ClearLeft are UK-based web site accessibility and user experience design consulting firm who run the dConstruct conference.
Information & Design
This small Australian usability consultancy produces the UXpod podcast on which I’ve found some useful talks.


I love collaboration – it’s a way of providing both personal gain and mutual benefit, which is another way of saying that it works and is sustainable. Here’s a great TED talk by Howard Rhengold on the topic – enjoy.

The Brand Gap

The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier is one of my favourite business books for three reasons:

  • it explains clearly what a brand is (trust),
  • it provides a high level view of how to build a brand, and
  • you can read it and understand all of the concepts in 90 minutes.

This slide presentation tells you all you need to know about the book – the book uses the same illustrations but with additional text that’s worth the investment.

{slideshare}[slideshare id=28886&doc=the-brand-gap-14630&w=425]{/slideshare}

Book Review: The new business road test

Who is it for?
The new business road test is a must-read for anyone wanting to start a new business, now or in the future, and should be read before writing a business plan. Reading the book will help you identify which of your business ideas are likely to be viable and which should be thrown in the bin.

Who wrote it?
John W. Mullins, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Entrepreneurship at the London Business School.

The core idea
John W. Mullins contends that there are seven domains that a business must be tested against and pass in order to be successful:

– Will the fish bite?
– Is this a good market?
– Is this a good industry? (Porter’s forces)
– How long will your advantage last? (Building a sustainable advantage)
– What drives your entrepreneurial dream? (What are your personal goals?)
– Can you and your team execute?
– Your connections matter – which matter most?

Why I liked it
This book gave me clarity in an area where entrepreneurs are typically weak – in performing their due diligence. It has allowed me to systematically look at each business idea and evaluate it objectively, without much overhead.

I think it’s compelling enough to make this bold statement, an echo of a statement in the book, that if more entrepreneurs read this book or resources like it we’d have stronger economies. Entrepreneurs are both a scarce resource and the engine for our economic growth and far too often they waste their time, investment opportunities and considerable talent on projects that have no chance of succeeding.

Balance it with:
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki, which covers starting a venture from a holistic, passion-centric position.

Blue Ocean Strategy, which (in spite of being IMHO a very dry book) helps entrepreneurs see beyond fighting in competitive markets (a red ocean strategy) to find new markets where you have no competition (a blue ocean strategy).