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December 8th, 2020

5 JavaScript Project Ideas For Beginners

“What shall I build?” is a question commonly asked within the web development community, particularly among beginners or those just starting out on their journey.

Having an interesting project to focus on that is not too time-consuming and not too daunting can be an ideal way to sustain your motivation and to hone your skills. 

I’ve listed out some JavaScript project ideas for beginners that could really help to bolster your skill-set and provide an interesting, thought-provoking challenge along the way.

If you’re looking for shorter, more concise JavaScript exercises as opposed to complete projects – you could also check out my new series, starting with JavaScript Exercises for Beginners, Part 1: Strings.

Let’s get started with the project ideas.

1. Build a JavaScript calendar

Perhaps not the most revolutionary of JavaScript project ideas, but the calendar is a classic example in this regard. The main reasons I’d consider this to be a great JavaScript project idea for beginners to try would be:

Working with dates & times is a staple

No matter where you end up working or what product or project you end up working on, there is a likelihood that you’ll be dealing with dates & times at some point in your life as a developer. JavaScript has its own set of date objects and methods, and there is also a healthy array of additional libraries and tools to facilitate this.

There’s plenty of scope for complex interactions

With something like a calendar, there is plenty of room to add your own spin on to the final product. For instance, zooming out from the current day to reveal the current week, then jumping again to reveal the current month. Then having a nice swiping motion to display the next month, and so on. You could really let your imagination run wild with the user experience here.

JavaScript calendar - yearly view
A yearly calendar view, your JavaScript version could include this view too

There is plenty of inspiration out there. You could utilize a particular design that catches your eye and model your own calendar on that, or you could start from the ground-up and see what you can come up with using your imagination alone.

2. Build a JavaScript clock (both digital and analogue)

Building a simple ticking clock shouldn’t be too time-consuming, and along the way you’ll likely pick up some essential skills — especially if you’re not as familiar with this kind of task to begin with.

You’ll learn about JavaScript’s timing functions

You’ll likely want to use the function `setInterval` to form the basis of your clock’s ticking motion, and working with timing functions such as this one is an important aspect to get to grips with.

There can be some complexity when dealing with timing functions such as this one (and it’s sister function – `setTimeout`) – you may wrestle with some of these intricacies during this task, and that’s a great way to learn!

Why not first build out a digital clock, and then an analogue one? The approaches required for each are quite different.

It’s a good opportunity to show off your design skills

As with the calendar suggestion above, there is also plenty of scope here to add your own flair to the design and functionalities of your clock, and take the final piece in whichever direction you want! As an added (non-JavaScript) bonus, why not try out a CSS3-only clock?

3. Build a JavaScript Hangman game

This JavaScript project idea deals largely with strings. The classic hangman game: 

A random word is selected and obscured from view, the player must select letters to see if they exist within this random word. If the letter exists in the word; the letter is revealed and the player moves a step closer to revealing the word and hence winning the game. If not, the player moves a step closer to losing the game.

JavaScript hangman game - example layout
The classic hangman game — a decent JavaScript exercise

This is a fun little project for beginners, and there are a few important reasons why I’d consider this challenge a worthwhile one to pursue:

Working with strings is a cornerstone of development

This is a good exercise to tackle because it introduces the developer to working with strings in a bit more depth. The foundation of the game itself is based on strings and searching for the existence of characters in strings.

Again, working with and manipulating strings is an important cornerstone in frontend JavaScript work as well as development work in general.

The developer must manage the state of play

Alongside that, there is a requirement to count and measure what is going on within the game. So it becomes clear with each passing turn whether the game should end or whether it should continue, for example.

You’ll also need to accept and react to user input, and wrap all of this up in a nice, neat little package that is fun to use and looks pleasing to the player.

So there are a few things to juggle there, for beginners I’d definitely consider making a hangman game (or similar) a really interesting challenge and a great way to learn and pick up new skills.

4. Build a (configurable) JavaScript interactive timeline

If you’re wondering what a timeline actually is in this context, I’m referring to this kind of thing, from CodyHouse.

An interactive timeline can be achieved fairly easily with CSS alone, however, building a configurable and dynamic JavaScript version is an entirely different undertaking. The basic idea here is to provide a simple function which receives some arguments (or a JSON object) to describe how the timeline should behave and what information it should contain.

The main reason I’d say this task is a suitable JavaScript project idea for beginners would be:

The developer must think about encapsulation and a clean entry point to using the feature

So it must be straightforward to invoke, configure and position the timeline element within the page. This forces the developer to consider this from the outset.

It’s not feasible here to simply hardcode the DOM elements that make up the timeline into the page and add in the necessary JavaScript afterwards. The feature must be easily reusable, and the user should be able to add two (or more) timelines into the page simultaneously and independently of one another.

This way of thinking is critical as you progress your JavaScript career. Your features and your code should be clean and easily reusable — other developers will thank you for it and you’ll enjoy maintaining the features as opposed to wrestling with them!

5. Build your own version of the Monty Hall problem in JavaScript

Last but not least, the Monty Hall problem.

For those not familiar with this problem, it’s a counter-intuitive probability puzzle. In essence, it works like this (quoted directly from the Monty Hall problem wiki):

Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, “Do you want to pick door No. 2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

The Monty Hall problem
The Monty Hall problem – which door do you pick?

The answer is yes – it’s always to your advantage to switch doors. This is a weird paradoxical puzzle, and it would be quite interesting to model your own version of the problem directly in JavaScript.

I’d recommend building out the Monty Hall problem yourself purely to verify the (counter-intuitive) results for yourself!

In closing

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this list of JavaScript project ideas for beginners.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these features or exercises, or you’ve never thought of making your own version of each — I’m sure you’ll have a great time with them. Hopefully you’ll pick up some new skills along the way, too!

There are other articles on that can inspire different JavaScript project ideas. So feel free to check those out in the Project Ideas category!

Thanks for reading!

Have any questions? Ping me over at @justacodingblog
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