How to Plan a Coding Project

You have an idea for an awesome website or app you’re going to create. And you can’t wait to start coding.

Stop! It’s far better to plan a coding project than rush into it blindly. You can never be too prepared, and you’ll get a better end result.

To plan a coding project, there are several stages you must go through. You should decide what to make, design the end result, plan your code, identify extra things you need to set up, and formulate a schedule.

There’s a lot to do, but it’s not hard. Follow the steps outlined on this page and you’ll see why planning your project is so important.

Decide What to Make

If you already know what to create, you can skip ahead to the next part. Otherwise, think about whether there’s anything that you could actually use.

For example, if you’re learning a foreign language, why not create a game to test your vocabulary? With a project like this, not only will you hone your coding skills, but you’ll also have a product that you can use in your everyday life.

If you’re still struggling to come up with an idea, check out these ideas for coding projects to get some inspiration.

Set Up a Text Editor

A text editor is the program you’ll use to write your code, so make sure you’ve got one you like and know how to use. Do this first, so it’s out of the way.


Once you’ve got an idea and a text editor, you’re technically ready to start coding. But that doesn’t mean you should. If you’re making a website or app, it makes sense to design it first. This includes, but is not limited to…

  • the appearance and look
  • the features it will include
  • how the user will interact with it.

If you were planning a translation game, you’d need to design how the game would work. For example, you might decide that a foreign word will appear on the screen, the user will translate it using a text box, and the game will then validate their input.

Whether you want to design the cosmetics of your project before you build it or after is up to you. It will depend mainly on how serious your project is.

Plan Your Code

Once you have an idea of what your project’s end result will be, it’s time to plan your code. This is probably the most important planning stage of all. Plan your code by breaking your planned program down into mini-programs – or more specifically, functions. For example, a translation game would require the following functions:

  1. a function to add a word and its translation to their respective arrays
  2. a function to call function 1 on each word
  3. a function to load a word onto the screen
  4. a function to fire when the user’s input is correct
  5. a function to fire when the user’s input is incorrect
  6. a function to determine whether to fire function 4 or function 5.

Planning your code in this way will make it much clearer. As a result, you’ll know exactly what code to write.


It’s likely that while planning your project, you may have come across some extra things you need to set up. For example, if you’re creating a website, you’ll need to register a domain name and web hosting. Or if you’re building an iPhone or iPad app, you’ll need to register a developer account.

Formulate a Schedule

If your project is ambitious, it will probably take a while to complete. For this reason, it might be a good idea to formulate a schedule.

For example, your plan may be to work on your coding project every night at 9 p.m. for 30 minutes. On the first few days you might spend the 30 minutes researching, then you might move onto writing the code, then debugging, and finally refining.

Your schedule will be the key to completing your project, so don’t neglect it.

Done Planning?

You should now have a finished plan! You should have an idea, a text editor prepared, a basic design and an idea of how you will structure your code. You should know what extra things to set up and you should have a schedule.

Next we’ll learn How To Build A Programming Project and look at the fun part – building your project and turning your plan into a reality.

Recommended Training – Treehouse

TreehouseAlthough this site recommends various training services, our top recommendation is Treehouse.

Treehouse is an online training service that teaches web design, web development and app development with videos, quizzes and interactive coding exercises.

Treehouse's mission is to bring technology education to those who can't get it, and is committed to helping its students find jobs. If you're looking to turn coding into your career, you should consider Treehouse.

Read our full review of Treehouse…

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.