What is the best website to learn how to code and keep your coding skills up to date? If you don’t want to waste time and money with this question, this is the answer for you. This is an extremely important question considering the majority of developers are now learning how to code through some type of online code classes. The platforms that offer these classes range from fully accredited online schools to companies that offer individual classes, tutorials or certifications in specific languages or technologies.
Whether you are new to coding or an experienced programmer, keeping your skills up to date is pertinent to have what it takes to be a computer programmer. As a software engineer myself, I am constantly looking into the adoption rates of technologies and learning them through the platforms I will be talking about later.
This article will compare some of the best code-training platforms through what I feel are the most important measurements to help you save time and money and ultimately recommending the best training platform for coders. For each of training platforms that will be examined, I personally set up accounts, paid for any memberships or class fees and used each one for a month to learn a technology I had not been previously exposed.
The platforms that were tested were Pluralsight, Udemy, CodeAcademy, YouTube, and Khan Academy. This is by no means the definitive list of all platforms for code training, but they are some of the ones I’ve found the most success using. If you would like me to review other platforms, please feel free to leave a comment with the platforms you would like me to review. Below are the results of the coding platform tests. I’ll explain my reasoning for each of the rankings provided for each platform.
I know, depending upon the type of device you are viewing this on, the chart above may seem a little small, so as I go through each measurement, I’ll zoom into those rankings for better visibility. Before going into my explanations, I would like to make the following disclaimer.
Some of these measurements are purely subjective. I say that because I am a true believer that in this world, there is NO right and wrong. Our world is based on ranges of perceptions of what is right and wrong that all too often change over time through investigative research.
Therefore, if you feel any of my perceptions are wrong, comments are always open and allowed. I would love to know everyone’s perceptions of my perceptions, so please share them. Even if you don’t agree with the chart above and do not want to read the rest of this article because you don’t agree with the results, I would challenge you to just try a free 10-day Pluralsight trial to form your own opinion.
Code-Learning Platform Measurements
We can now go through each estimate and compare each code-learning platform. The measurements that will be ranked are price, quality of the content, the robustness of development technologies, customer service effectiveness, mobile accessibility, and forward-thinking for developers. Just like with the list of platforms, this list of measurements is not comprehensive.
The price is probably one of the most measurements to people wanting to get the most for their budget. I can respect this mindset, but it depends on the person and how much he or she views the training as an investment. Each platform is ranked from one to five in relation to the price for the training services.
CodeAcademy (2/5) – Free to $199
Codeacademy was traditionally a free platform for developers, but they shifted to a freemium platform. Codeacademy’s cheapest paid pro plan is $19.99 per month for a monthly subscription and $191.88 per year with a yearly subscription. Codeacademy Pro Intensive is $199 for each course. The pro plans offer progress tracking and customer support while the intensive course provides “realistic” development projects with oversight from an actual developer.
Since the free version of the Codeacademy offering is so limited and the paid plans require a substantial investment, the rating for the price is a two out of five. Honestly, this was the one ranking I struggled with the most since there are multiple offerings for this platform and the investment is really dependent upon the user. I ultimately used the highest cost as a rationale for the ranking since most developers are looking for the most effective and quick way of learning new technologies.
Udemy (3/5) – $9 to $300
Unlike Codeacademy, Udemy does not use a subscription model for non-business accounts. Udemy charges directly per course and usually runs impressive discounts for the provided courses. The ranking for Udemy was given a three out of five since it can be expensive if there is not a special deal within the site. Even with the discounts, it can get extremely expensive if wanting to learn multiple technologies/languages.
Pluralsight (3/5) – Free to $35
Pluralsight’s billing is similar to Codeacadmy’s billing structure. Pluralsight offers a free ten-day trial with the option to purchase a monthly subscription at $35 or a yearly subscription at $299. The main difference in pay between Pluralsight and Codeacademy is that Pluralsight does not include an “intensive” program. Pluralsight was given a ranking of three out of five, but, once again, I feel this ranking could be a two since its prices are so comparable to that of Codeacademy’s prices.
YouTube (5/5) – Free
YouTube is probably the most widely used platform for videos and tutorials because it is free as long as you don’t mind ads. If you do not want ads, you can always opt in for YouTube Red for only $9.99 per month. Most people do not mind the ads since many of them you can skip after five seconds. Since YouTube is a free option, it was provided a ranking of five out of five.
Khan Academy (5/5) – Free
Khan Academy is one of the largest resources for education at the cheapest price possible… free. The mission of Khan Academy has always been “For free. For everyone. Forever”. As a nonprofit, Khan Academy is funded by donations and therefore does not need ads or subscriptions to fund itself. Since it is free, it gets a ranking of five out of five for the price measurement.
Quality of Content
Even though the price of the code-learning platform is something that most people use as the major determination, you cannot put a price on quality. If you are getting the best quality of learning, you can actually save money because you are spending less time trying to learn new technologies and more time using the technologies and making yourself more marketable.
Codeacademy has grown tremendously quickly in a short period of time and provided great quality courses for any developer to learn many technologies very quickly. While going through some courses within the Codeacademy platform related to Watson API, the video quality was very clear and the table of contents was very easy to understand. For the quality of content measurement, Codeacademy received a five out of five.
Udemy uses teachers who apply to teach various subjects on its platform. Since it’s such a lucrative opportunity to teach on Udemy and there are so many teachers, there is not a lot of standardization within the video quality or format. To be completely clear though, there was definitely some standardization across courses and by no means was it completely different among courses. Because of this lack of complete standardization, Udemy was given a ranking of four out of five. I can say that the overall quality of the content on Udemy was not a negative experience, but do not expect a standard teaching format.
Pluralsight seemed to be the perfect mix between Codeacademy and Udemy. Pluralsight does have ‘authors’ who create the courses to be hosted on Pluralsight’s platform, but almost every course had a standard format with very clear video quality. Additionally, just like Codeacademy and Udemy, every course provided supplemental materials to help the user follow along with the course more easily.
After looking into the ‘authoring’ process further, I found that the authors are scrupulously selected through a training recording and provided templates by Pluralsight of how to create the content for the courses. Because of this standardization and templating, you can expect a standard format for each course no matter which author is providing the course.
As you go through the courses on Pluralsight, you’ll find that many of the ‘authors’ who are publishing the content are MVPs in the course’s respective technology so you can trust that the quality of the course will be superb. Because of all of these qualitative reasons, Pluralsight is given a five out of five for the quality of content measurement.
As far as YouTube is concerned, the quality and formatting of any given video are up to the publisher. I often equate YouTube to the Wild West when it comes to video quality. I’ve found that some publishers on YouTube will create a standard format for all of his or her videos, but there will almost never be standards across publishers. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some YouTube coding tutorials that provide such a high quality of content that they could be on a paid platform, but I have also seen some that wasted too much of my time that I will never get back. Because of the inconsistency, YouTube was given a three out of five in this measurement.
When going through Khan Academy’s Hour of Code courses, I enjoyed the interactive layout of the content and how well it was explained. The only issue I had with the content on Khan Academy is how rudimentary the content seemed. However, for someone just learning how to code, this may be a great platform to start learning the basics. Because the content only covers the basics of a given technology, the ranking for the quality of the content was given a three out of five.
Robustness of Development Technologies
If a code learning platform has high-quality content available, it makes learning the technology much easier, but if there are not enough technologies to learn, it makes the ability to learn a little stifling. Because many developers turn to code learning platforms to learn many different languages/technologies, the robustness of development technologies is something extremely important for these platforms.
Codeacademy has done a great job recently building up the technology and language offerings for developers. CodeAcademy has over 20 courses with varying technologies available for developers to learn. Even though a developer could get through all courses on the platform if he or she focuses on this platform, Codeacademy is continually adding new courses so Codeacademy was awarded a ranking of five out of five.
There is a very good reason why so many people go to the Udemy platform to learn. That reason is the pure number of courses available for anyone to learn almost anything. If you go to the Udemy platform, you will be faced with a difficult choice of which technology to start with learning. Since there are so many courses available, Udemy is also given a five out of five for the ranking.
I have not had the chance to count how many courses Pluralsight offers because it is almost impossible. I know that the number is more than 150. Pluralsight is also always adding new technologies and courses, so it is constantly changing. Since there are so many types of technologies to learn and the courses are very relevant to current technologies, Pluralsight also is awarded a five out of five.
There is not a single platform that comes even close to the sheer number of videos on the YouTube platform. Therefore, it is not difficult for YouTube to shine with the robustness of development technology videos. I won’t even begin to guess the number of technology courses on YouTube, but I can say there is no question it should be provided a five out of five in this measurement.
Khan Academy (3/5)
Khan Academy has many courses available for many types of learners. When it comes to development courses, Khan Academy is somewhat limited in its offerings. I do not believe most experienced developers will find the courses on this platform as comprehensive as needed. Because of the limited amount of development courses available, Khan Academy received a three out of five.
Customer Support Effectiveness
Even though customer support will not necessarily help with your development, it is important if you run into issues. To be honest, I don’t view customer support as an extremely important factor, but I have had enough of my share of bad customer support experiences to make it a priority.
Codeacademy really shined when I contacted the customer service. I’m not sure if it’s because I was a paying customer or not, but they were very helpful. For CodeAcademy, I provided them a five out of five.
Udemy has a lot of courses so I can see it being difficult for the customer service team to keep up with the questions and demands from customers. I definitely felt the pressure when contacting Udemy’s customer service team, they seemed very concerned with moving through customers, so I gave it a four out of five.
Just like with CodeAcademy, the Pluralsight customer service team was very attentive and very helpful. I was once again a paying customer so I may have been seen as a priority. Because of the great customer service experience, I provided a ranking of five out of five.
Not only was the YouTube customer service overwhelmed with customer inquiries, but it was also difficult just to find the right customer service number. To be honest, I sort of expected this to happen since YouTube is so huge. Because of this experience, I gave YouTube a ranking of two out of five.
Khan Academy (3/5)
I think Khan Academy may have had a similar issue to YouTube with the number of customers calling into the customer service team. It could also have been that Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization, but I definitely felt the pressure that the customer service team was feeling. The customer service representative was still very cordial, so I gave the ranking a three out of five.
Most users are now using mobile devices to do everything from posting a social media update to viewing online videos. Therefore, it’s so extremely important for any code learning platform to support a mobile platform.
Codeacademy has a great mobile platform to view videos and track progress, but there is one minor flaw for their mobile app. The mobile app is only available if you have purchased an account. I don’t see this as a big deal since I’m assuming anyone who wants to get the most out of the platform would want to purchase a license anyway to get past the first video of each module, but for this reason, I gave it a four out of five.
I was very pleased with the Udemy app. The videos were easy to view and the app did not have any performance issues on my mobile devices. After reviewing the app, I gave Udemy a ranking of five out of five.
I really enjoyed using Pluralsight’s app. I was able to view videos, keep track of progress and even use it for creating paths. The unified layout of courses made things even easier to navigate through the app. For this measurement, I gave Pluralsight a five out of five.
YouTube has one of the most downloaded apps on many mobile platform markets and many times comes preinstalled on mobile devices because it’s so widely used. This obviously means the app is ideal for watching videos and has very little issues from a user experience standpoint. YouTube had no problem achieving a five out of five for this ranking.
Khan Academy (5/5)
Khan Academy has a great app that allows you to view the videos and see which categories are available. The Khan Academy app did not have as many features as the other apps, but it did get the job done. Because the Khan Academy app worked, it received a rating of five out of five.
Forward Thinking For Developers
The last measurement is also one of the most important for me. There are A LOT of platforms available with a wealth of tutorials, but if the content is not geared towards teaching developers the newest technologies to stay up to date, it will become an obsolete tool for developers. Each platform is ranking in this measurement on how forward-thinking the courses are for any developer’s needs.
With a name like Codeacademy, this code-learning platform better provide forward-thinking technology courses, right? This platform does deliver on this measurement and has worked hard lately to build up its courses. It may not have a complete library for any technology, but it is pushing to get there and offering as much as possible to help developers thrive. Because of the initiative, Codeacademy received a five out of five.
There is no doubt that Udemy offers many types of courses, but can I honestly say it’s been driven by what is best to teach developers? I’m not sure I can honestly make that claim. I know Udemy will continue to grow, but I do not think its first priority is to provide the newest and best technologies for developers to learn. Because Udemy is focused on growing holistically, it is provided a four out of five.
This measurement is one that Pluralsight truly shines. The Pluralsight platform is probably the best platform I’ve found that is driven to deliver the latest, greatest, and most relevant coding technology courses around. Not only does Pluralsight offer a lot of different courses, but the courses are the technologies that are the most likely to be used in a professional setting. Pluralsight receives a five out of five for this measurement.
YouTube was absolutely not made to be a code-learning platform. YouTube does a great job showing videos and recommending videos based on user behavior, but it is by no means a platform exclusively for developers. Just as Udemy, YouTube will grow, but it will likely grow more with cat videos than development tutorials. Since YouTube is not driven towards developer learning as a priority, it was given a rating of three out of five.
Khan Academy (3/5)
Khan Academy is driven by academic learning, but not necessarily for developers. It is a great tool to study for your SATs or have a little extra tutoring for your calculus class, but it will likely never be exclusively for developers. Since Khan Academy is not focused on coding technology learning, it received a three out of five.
Final Code-Learning Scores
Well… there you have it. The final scores put Pluralsight as the clear winner for the best place to learn how to code with a final score of 28 out of 30. Close behind is Codeacademy with a score of 26 followed by Udemy with a score of 25. Lastly, YouTube barely beat out Khan Academy with a score of 23 out of 30 and Khan Academy with a final score of 22. As mentioned at the beginning, this is by no means a comprehensive list. Furthermore, if you disagree with the findings in this comparison or would like other platforms to be tested, please comment below. Lastly, please feel free to share this article if you agree, but whether you do or don’t agree, please try out the free 10-day trial on Pluralsight to see for yourself. HAPPY LEARNING!
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