How to Choose the Best Coding Project? 5 Smart Criteria for Beginners


updated Jan 22, 2023


When it comes to building projects for learning to code, the most common question I hear is:

What type of project should I build first to learn from? What is the best coding project for beginners?

Once you have followed enough coding tutorials and you know how the programming language of your choice works, you want to start building small projects on your own asap.

But how do you choose the best coding project that helps you learn even more? You don’t want to waste your time on projects that are too easy. But on the other hand, you don’t want to pick a project that is too difficult.

Hence, your time is the most important factor to consider. If you have a full-time job and kids to look after, you can’t spend several hours every day working on your project.

Thus, if you choose the wrong project, you may spend a lot of time working on something that doesn’t help your learning. In fact, chances are that you will never even finish the project.

Moreover, you want to build projects that look great on your portfolio, right?

With that said, when you are ready to start your next coding project, you want to consider a few key criteria for choosing the best coding project possible.

In the past few years, I’ve found a few helpful guidelines for choosing the right projects that help me achieve my goals faster.

In today’s post, I’ll walk you through the top five criteria you can use to pick a coding project that isn’t a waste of your time.

Let’s get started!

For more help with your coding projects, here are a few related articles for you:

Please note: This post contains affiliate links to products I use and recommend. I may receive a small commission if you purchase through one of my links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

1: Choose something you enjoy working with

The first thing you should think about is what you enjoy doing in life in general. This will simply help you stay motivated and finish your project.

The easiest place to start looking for inspiration is your hobbies. What do you do in your free time?

For example, if you love photography, why not build a portfolio website to showcase your best pictures.

Or if you are into traveling, why not create a travel blog and share your experience with the world? How about starting a programming blog of your own?

Similarly, if you enjoy analyzing data at work, you can build a coding project that automates your daily tasks to help you save time.

Or let’s say you love spending time in the kitchen. Why not build a simple recipe app to gather all your favorite recipes into one place?

How to choose the perfect coding project to build for your portfolio website - Beginners guide

2: Start small (super small)

Start building a project that is really simple but still allows you to learn new things.

Trust me, there is nothing wrong with aiming low with your first coding projects. The last thing you want is to set yourself too ambitious goals and lose your motivation once things get tricky.

For example, if you want to build a portfolio website, don’t try to build the best portfolio site in the world (just yet!).

Instead, start with a simple site and build it with HTML and CSS. If you want to get started right away, follow the free HTML and CSS tutorials on Codecademy, for example.

When you feel confident working with those tools, you can start adding dynamic features with JavaScript.

And if that’s not enough, you can learn a back-end language to turn your static portfolio into a dynamic website that’s more like a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.

Read next: 9 Smart Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Projects

If you enjoy playing video games, don’t try to build a second World of Warcraft. Instead, build something really simple like Tic Tac Toe or Rock Paper Scissors.

Hence, choose a project that is super easy and small. Because right now you want to start building something. The easier your project is, the more rewarding it will feel when you finish it.

Also, you will see how much progress you are making when you get to practice and build something from scratch even though you’re still perhaps quite new to coding.

Here are a few articles you should read for some inspiration:

Learn to code with online tutorials and courses

3: Aim beyond your current skill level

Ok, this point may not make sense right after I’ve told you to keep it simple.

Here’s what I mean by aiming past your current skill level:

If you are just getting started, your first coding project should be something really easy like we just discussed. But when you finish it, your next project should be a little bit more complex and challenging.

The point of picking the perfect coding projects is to choose something that reaches past your current skill level. It is the only way to push your limits and help you learn new things.

Because the last thing you want is to get stuck in a loop of projects where you repeat the same things over and over again. I mean, you have already learned all that – now you want to take the next step and make the most of your time.

Remember, your time is limited so you want to choose a coding project that allows you to learn.

Hence, when choosing your next coding project, make sure it’s slightly more challenging than your last one. This will help you develop your skills further as each one of your projects build on top of each other.

For more learning tips, check out these 10 practical tips to learn to code faster.

Learning tech skills online

4: Pick a project that makes your life easier

The goal of any coding project is to build something useful and helpful. Your program, app, or website should solve a specific problem to make things easier for its users.

Of course, building a project that gets 100,000 users would look amazing on your resume.

However, at this point, you should start by building something for yourself. As we just discussed, try to keep it super simple right now.

Again, start by thinking about what you do daily. Is there something where you think “oh man, I wish there was an easier way to get this done”?

Remember: all you need is a single problem to solve.

Keeping things easy will help you plan and execute your project faster. Plus, you will save tons of time learning just the stuff you need to get it done.

Later on, you will learn more for your next project and so on. This will help you maintain a steady learning curve and avoid wasting your time on projects that are too easy.

If you happen to be learning Python, I can’t recommend Automate the Boring Stuff With Python enough. It is one of the best Python books I’ve found and the projects are a lot of fun!

Related: The Best Python Projects for Beginners: 10 Easy Ideas You Can Start Building Now

5: Consider your long-term coding goals

What do you want to build in the future? What types of jobs are you interested in as a developer?

Whatever your long-term goals are, keep them in mind when you’re browsing through ideas for coding projects for beginners.

Ideally, you will have a crystal clear idea of what you want to achieve with coding. Once you do, you simply need to break down that goal into smaller milestones and steps. Then, it’s all about working your way towards it one step at a time.

Thus, your coding project should help you get closer to your goal. If you want to become a web developer, it doesn’t make sense to start building video games. Makes sense, right?

Therefore, if you haven’t already, make sure you are learning the right programming language that matches your goal. If you are completely new to coding, head over to my article with 14 popular programming languages and their uses explained.

Final thoughts: How to choose the best coding project for beginners?

There you go! I know exactly how daunting and difficult it may feel to choose your first coding project. You may feel like it is too soon and that you are not ready for a full-scale project just yet.

But trust me, the sooner you start the better. Just keep things simple and pick a project that allows you to challenge yourself. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time repeating things you already know.

Thus, follow the tips above and start building your coding project right away!

If you are new to web development, try these 30+ HTML and CSS projects for beginners to get started.

If you feel like I missed a helpful point, let me know in the comments below!

Now I want to hear from you: what types of projects have you built so far as a beginner? How did you go about choosing them?

I’d love to hear your tips for choosing the best programming projects! Drop me a line in the comments section!

For even more tips on learning coding for beginners, here are a few related posts for you:

If you enjoyed this post on how to choose the best coding project, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others! Thanks!

Happy learning!
– Mikke

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About Mikke

Hi, I’m Mikke! I’m a blogger, freelance web developer, and online business nerd. Join me here on to learn how to code for free, build a professional portfolio website, launch a tech side hustle, and make money coding. When I’m not blogging, you will find me sipping strong coffee and biking around town in Berlin. Learn how I taught myself tech skills and became a web dev entrepreneur here. And come say hi on Twitter!

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