An honest review of Codecademy
If you’re not sure what Codecademy can offer you – and whether it’s the right code-learning website for you – then I hope my review of the platform will bring you clarity.
We’ll get into the features, the learning experience you’ll have while using it, as well as its pros & cons.
Let’s find out if it’s worth it to sign up with Codecademy to improve your coding skills.
Quick Pros & Cons
factors I considered for my rating
How Qualified Am I to do this review?
In my decade+ as a professional Software Developer, I’ve learned over 15 programming languages to a level where I could teach others. This led me to create 55 code-learning courses myself.
I’ve gained knowledge of what it takes to get your students to learn a new language and actually retain the material.
In this review, we’ll figure out whether Codecademy holds up to that standard.
How You'll learn with Codecademy - The Process
- Just pick the language you’re interested in, and you’ll be able to take bite-sized courses to get you to your goal – from the very basics to lessons introducing you to more advanced features.
- You’ll be taking quizzes throughout each course to make sure you’ve absorbed the knowledge.
- And then you’ll complete real coding projects to turn your theoretical learnings into real-world results.
- You can do this inside the built-in coding environment – which also gives you helpful hints, should you ever feel stuck.
- Get a certificate to prove your skills to employers (optional)
What I loveD About COdecademy
These are the 5 main reasons why I recommend the site over most others out there.
1. Accessibility of the coding courses
Starting with the free introductory courses, Codecademy holds true to its promise of teaching you a new programming language from the ground up.
You then progress step by step into more advanced subjects.
This means that even as a beginner you won’t get overwhelmed by a tutorial that’s too complex for you to follow at your current stage.
2. Skill paths to get to expert level
What if you want to not just learn a new programming language, but master a whole field, like Web Development, for example?
Then I recommend you take one of Codecademy’s 12 career paths (you can pick between anything from Data Analyst to Front-End Engineer to iOS Developer), or/and one of 45 skill paths, such as Building Web Apps with Python or Passing the Technical Interview with Java.
These include multiple courses with dozens of lessons for if you seriously want to level up your programming career.
3. The live code editor
At most other websites teaching you coding, you need to switch to a local development environment if you want to put what you’ve learned into actual code.
Fortunately Codecademy spares you this effort: An IDE is built right into the platform, so you can build and run your code side by side with the lesson you’re studying. My experience has been that this feature saves you some mental bandwidth and makes your code-learning more efficient.
4. The coding projects
My belief is that programming newbies learn more – and faster – when they start solving real-world problems as soon as possible.
Codecademy’s creators seem to be on board with this opinion: For each major feature of the language you’re learning, you’re going to create a simple piece of software to immediately put it all into practice.
They’re not lying when they call their courses “a hands-on learning experience.”
5. The community forums
I find Codecademy’s forums are a great feature for several reasons:
- If I, despite the hints from the platform, am unable to solve on of the challenges, I can turn to my peers to help me out
- You can post your personal projects and get valuable feedback on them
- It’s cool to follow others’ code-learning journeys or/and be inspired by their stories
Coding can sometimes be a lonely experience, so the ability to connect with like minds who are on the same path is more than welcome.
What I Didn't Love About The Platform
Like all courses on how to code available today, Codecademy also has its disadvantages.
These are the 3 main cons I’ve found with the site:
1. Limited instruction on debugging
Codecademy’s code editor doesn’t include a debugger. Neither is debugging a big topic inside the courses.
2. Not the best for learning high-level concepts
The platform is aimed at giving you coding challenges to quickly create working code. While Codecademy is great at teaching you the language syntax and coding hands-on, it doesn’t deal much with theory and meta-concepts.
If you want to learn clean code principles or software architecture, for example, you need to consult other books or courses. In their defense, they do have one course on software design principles.
3. Few videos, mostly text-based
Codecademy’s courses are not instructor lectures in video format. If you prefer this kind of learning style, you’ll have to look for an alternative platform to learn coding.
Instead you get code challenges with some explanations and helpful hints, as well as additional resources and community support.
Most people like the courses’ straightforward nature, but for some, the very limited use of videos could be a dealbreaker.
Codecademy's Best Courses
With over 50 million users since 2011, an tens of thousands of active Pro level subscribers, they’re the most popular code-learning platform out there.
Codecademy’s most popular courses are:
- Learn Python 3
- Learn HTML
- Learn Java
- Code Foundations
- Full-Stack Engineer Career Path
Let’s dive deeper into some of the best courses available on Codecademy’s website.
Coding fundamentals courses
Codecademy’s best courses to start learning to code:
This skill path comprises 5 different courses to teach you crucial programming concepts and gets you started writing simple code yourself.
After going through the 2-week program, you’ll have:
- a good overview of what programming is
- knowledge about a coding career
- an idea of which languages are relevant to what you’re trying to achieve
- developed some coding skills you can put to use right away
In this 8-hour course, they teach you essential command line skills for coders. While you could figure these out by reading the official documentation, googling, and trial & error, I find it’s more efficient to use this short, structured course to achieve mastery over the command line.
It’s an essential skill you’ll need many times during your programming career.
Foundational Python courses at Codecademy:
Like with all of Codecademy’s coding courses you’ll start off creating “Hello World” during your first lesson in the popular language Python.
Then you’ll learn foundational skills such as if/else statements, lists, loops, functions, and more.
By the end of the 25-hour program, you’ll be well versed in the basics of Python – having completed 13 hands-on code challenges yourself – and ready to start creating your own programming projects in Python 3.
This course will help you take your programming skills to an intermediate level. Data structures and algorithms are fundamental elements in coding, and Codecademy’s lessons teach them to you in the most practical manner:
While you’re reading about these concepts, you’re implementing them at the same time in your language of choice, Python.
The best way to start as a Web Developer on Codecademy:
In 6 lessons taking just 9 hours to complete, you’ll learn the programming language that gives life to any website. The course has you working on a project soon after a quick introduction to the standards and features of HTML.
You’ll also learn how to create tables and forms while you’re quizzed on your studying progress. I recommend this course if you want to get started building websites quickly and for free.
This intermediate course includes three website projects you’ll build from scratch to completion.
It takes you from beginner to advanced instruction in HTML and CSS, and teaches you how to build websites on your computer, and then publish it on GitHub Pages to use it as part of your Web Developer portfolio.
The Build a Website skill path includes 9 courses with 18 lessons.
Codecademy’s best coding career courses:
The Full-Stack Engineer career path is a 51-course, 169-lesson beast of a specialization program. It takes 6 months to complete and will take you from coding beginner to someone proficient in programming fundamentals, as well as multiple frameworks and languages.
You’ll learn Web Development, Back-End Engineering (including how to work with databases), Data Structures and Algorithms, and more. Upon completion you’ll have created three different projects, and you’ll be able to acquire your Full Stack Engineering certificate.
This beginner-friendly program will take you through 26 courses with 51 lessons. You’ll be using Swift and SwiftUI to build mobile apps for iOS.
After learning all necessary languages, frameworks and concepts for building a functioning app (with hands-on projects), you can even practice interview problems to prepare yourself for a career as an iOS developer.
Codecademy’s course is well-structured, easy to follow, and can compete with most iOS development career courses available today.
Membership options - Free vs Plus vs Pro
Codecademy offers you three different tiers for your code-learning journey:
Learn code basics for free
In addition, you can take courses on frameworks and other topics like an intro to Data Science, for example.
The free courses are shorter and less involved than the paid ones – they’re meant as an introduction, with the option to upgrade to a membership if you want to get more serious about improving your coding skills.
The Plus membership has all courses plus projects & certificates
If you’d like to go beyond the beginner (and the few intermediate) courses of the free level, Codecademy’s Plus membership could be for you. You'll get access to all courses, including the hands-on projects and practices.
What’s missing from Codecademy Plus is the extensive career path courses and career certificates, as well as code challenges and interview prep material.
Codecademy Pro – the all-access pass with career specializations and code challenges
The Pro level is for serious learners who are striving towards a career in computer programming.
The differences to Codecademy Plus are that it’ll give you access to up to 6 months long career deep dives, code challenges, assessments for job readiness, and technical interview prep courses:
On top of that, you can take exams to earn a professional certificate for one of 6 career paths, such as the Full Stack Engineer or Data Scientist programs.
And then you can use the career services included in Codecademy Pro to connect with tech companies that are hiring for your job description.
Annual billing saves you 20 percent
Like on most code-learning platforms you get a big discount if you’re willing to forgo the monthly option. Committing yourself for 12 months of learning to code with Codecademy will save you around 20% on your membership fees.
Reviews by Codecademy alumni
I’ve scoured popular communities online to give you a range of opinions from its alumni on how valuable Codecademy is for learning to code.
- On average, people’s experience with Codecademy seems to be positive – especially the courses’ beginner-friendliness, motivating structure, and hands-on nature have earned praise.
- The most frequent criticism was that if you’re already an advanced programmer, you’ll only get limited value out of most of their programs.
The verdict at Reddit
Many Redditors advise you to start with Codecademy’s courses if you’re a beginner, but also supplement it with other resources once you hit the intermediate stage and begin coding your own projects:
What Redditors liked:
- Reviewers on Reddit appreciated the bite-sized lessons you get on Codecademy, which will get you coding fast even as a complete beginner.
- The platform was recommended for learning the syntax and fundamentals of a programming language in a structured and motivating manner.
The main criticisms at Reddit:
- Some commenters found that Codecademy throws you into projects too fast.
- In addition, going through the lessons once did not mean you’ve fully mastered the subject – they needed to go back and review some parts again as they’re working on their own projects.
There was also disagreement with using the live code editor for everything: Some prefer to practice setting up an environment locally and compiling your code there.
What Quora’s community is saying about Codecademy’s courses
Most members agree that CC’s courses are good for beginners learning their first programming languages, and report they’ve been working well for themselves:
Quora commenters liked these Codecademy features:
The structure and user experience were among the features most praised by CC alumni:
These negatives were mentioned:
Some Quora members had criticism of Codecademy’s chunked-down, simple approach. They argue it doesn’t teach you “big picture” problem-solving.
And this is a weakness of gamified code-learning platforms in general.
Expect them to simply be a tool in your toolbelt – any serious programmer should also consult books and other sources to complement his journey to code mastery.
Team Blind members’ review of the site
There were a few comments about Codecademy at teamblind.com as well. Here’s what one user had to say:
Summary of my course rating
Range of courses
With 20 coding languages, and over 300 courses in total, Codecademy covers a wide variety of programming topics.
They’re hands-on skill paths – if you’re looking for theoretical deep dives, a more college-like course will be better for you.
The courses are great for beginners. They do hold your hand and get you coding fast. And if you get stuck, the platform will give you hints to help you out.
Codecademy’s lessons are designed well. Their explanations are sensible and easy to follow. The fundamentals courses aren’t teaching many deeper concepts (but CC have been adding more advanced courses to their catalog.)
The attractive user interface, built-in code editor, and clearly arranged course dashboard are positive features of the website. You get additional resources for most topics.
One thing lacking is more video lessons inside the courses.
If you ever get stuck on a problem, want to document your progress, or share in others’ journey to learning coding, Codecademy’s forum community comes in handy.
While it doesn’t offer as much peer bonding as a cohort-based course with group calls, it’s nice to have this social aspect added into the platform.
This is where Codecademy shines most: The bite-sized nature of the lessons with built-in tests and assessments motivate you to keep going. It’s like you’re playing a game, solving progressively harder challenges.
This structure is perfect for a coding beginner who wants to avoid overwhelm while learning his first language(s).
Final verdict – is Codecademy worth it?
- After looking at their platform in detail, I can recommend Codecademy. Especially if you’re just getting started, want to write your first code ASAP, and start completing small tangible projects. They have a wide range of courses to choose from, and they’ve kept adding more topics over time.
- Will completing a course or two make you into a complete programmer? No. But that’s too much to expect and something you won’t get from any one code-learning website.
- I’s a great place to learn the fundamentals – in a well-structured way that motivates you to actually stick with your goal of learning a new language or coding career.
The Plus & Pro memberships give you access to many more courses and features.
If you’re curious about Codecademy, but still on the fence about paying for a membership, you have the opportunity to try either the Plus or Pro tier free for 7 days.