My best advice for upcoming, new and wannabe Web Developers
How to stay sane in this overly inundated Web space
The web is too inundated with lots of technologies, tools and frameworks. With different developers championing for their favorite tool.
If you are just getting stated you might get excited. Then get overwhelmed. And then just decide to give up. And then end up being a blogger, blogging about how to be a blogger.
I am not the best in the field. Matter of fact I am still learning too. So you should probably not listen to me. Even though I know what I am talking about, you should not take my advice as gold. Read, but you are free to do whatever you want.
Do whatever appeals to your heart. You don’t have to think like everyone else because you learned from them. Find your way of doing things, but don’t reinvent the wheel.
So, you want to be a good Web Developer. But you are tired of learning something. Because you fear that it might get phased out with something new and better soon.
Or perhaps you were just starting to learn something. You started to like it. Then you stumbled upon a blog or a forum post. The post and it’s thread was criticizing that technology. Saying what a piece of shit it is. And advising against it’s use.
Here you are. Just a mere beginner. Reading a thread . Some veterans are commenting on the thread. Veterans and gurus are calling what you just started learning, a big waste of time.
What are you going to do? What are you going to think?
And you notice that as they tear apart this poor technology, they keep mentioning something new that has been gaining trend. May be because it’s backed by a major player. By a major player I mean a big company, such as Google, or Facebook, or Microsoft, or Apple, etc.
Will you Start again and again?
You are most probably going to throw away everything you have learned so far. And embrace the new better ‘awesomer’ trendier thing. The thing you heard of for the first time in this post by veterans and gurus.
Months later after you have learned something new about it. You come across another post. A post saying that an even better tool has been made. Forget the tool you thought was the best. This new tool is the ultimate of all current tools.
Will you keep starting again and again?
What is really your interest
What is your interest in being a Web Developer? Do you want to create stuff and give away for free? Do you want to repair stuff? Do you want to create and sell stuff?
Or do you just want to learn so that whenever you have an idea you don’t have to hire anyone to build it for you. And you won’t even have to ask anyone for money to hire the people to build it. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Or may be you want to be the person that gets paid to build stuff.
Which is it?
Do you want be the guy that builds the interfaces. The guy that any company would disown their own employee to be with. In my opinion, User Experience will always be king.
Perhaps you want to be someone who builds WordPress plugins and Themes. Plugins and Themes to add in the WordPess.org repository. Or premium plugins to sell on your own Website or on Themeforest/ Codecanyon.
I am just using WordPress as an example. There are lots of CMS and ecommerce solutions that may interest you.
Just may be you want to be the guy that builds web platforms. The guy that brings Web Applications to life. The go to guy when people want their own Facebook, or Stumbleupon , pinterest , Twitter, Ebay, Shopify etc.
What is really your interest? Which kind of project, tool and language really resonates with you?
If you are a fan of Gary Vee you know one of his major pushes is “Know yourself” . Self awareness .
Know the things that interest you. And then read and learn as much about it as you can.
You must know where your interest lies. Know yourself and where you want to go.
Please not that…
No matter how many tools and frameworks are there today, the fundamental technology upon which they are built are the same old programming languages you and me know and use.
What does this mean for you as a developer?
It means that.
With the above scenario. The only reason you should learn the new tool and use it, is to save time. And not because you have no choice .
Learn the fundamentals. Once you are good in the fundamentals. And you understand how different programming languages work. And you also understand the core programming principles. Learning the new tool will always feel like an experience rather than a chore.
Just an example
So , if you are interested in Web Applications. And you anticipate that your Server side language of choice will always be PHP. Probably due to the ease and cheap availability of Hosting. Do not jump into Laravel before you learn PHP well enough . Learn it well enough to be able to use PHP for building the project. Without using any Framework.
Before I continue, note that I am using PHP simply as an example. Okay?
Moving on, knowing that you can build a full web application in Object Oriented PHP . Why wouldn’t you learn a framework to make your work easier. Right now Laravel is definitely at the top of the PHP Frameworks charts.
But that can change suddenly. What if someone right now, is just working on some silent PHP project. A project that will make doing things even easier and better. Even if that new project takes over from Laravel. What do you care?
That will not worry you. Why? Because you are good in PHP . And you have also been improving your PHP skills with every new releases that come up. You will just need to take a look at the documentation of the new project/ Framework. And if you like it, you will learn it. Jump in and be among the first in it.
The point here is this. Before you worry about the cool tool. Or the awesome resource. Always learn the mother language. What is it built on? How is it different from all the others that are already available? And how does it make doing things better in all aspects of good software engineering principles?
If you understand the basic principles . If you understand the most important fundamentals. You can learn any tool/Framework that follows those principles, practices and guidelines.
Have you ever wondered why it gets easier to pick other programming languages once you have learnt at least one programming language? It is all about the fundamentals. The basic building blocks .
Who is your Web developer Hero
Find your hero and become a student.
Do you have people who you look up to. Why do you look up to them? Do you want to be like them or do you just want to learn from them?
It’s important to have people you look up to.
Most of these developers love Twitter. So go ahead and follow them on Twitter. Matter of fact follow them wherever you can find them. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and so on. If they have a YouTube channel, subscribe to it. If they have a website subscribe to it.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to follow everyone. If you do, sooner or later you’ll be bored by most of them. Only follow those people that best resonate with your path, interests and goals.
Find your hero and become a student. I’ve always preferred being a silent student.
Watching and learning from afar.
Five years from now, will it matter?
This is the reason for which I asked you to consider your interests and goals. You need to be sure that whatever path you decide to follow you are certain that you anticipate your growth in it.
Being a developer is like learning to play an instrument. The best have been playing the same instrument for years.
So if you are just learning for the sake of it, you should stop reading this right now.
Set goals on the things you want to learn within a specific period.
And most importantly set goals for the projects you want to create. Build small things and increment on them. Start by building something small and then grow it into something big.
Building stuff . That’s how you get better in any programming language. Build and rebuild. When you learn a better way of doing things. Rebuild the full project!
Right now. Before you even consider how good. Or how mediocre you are gonna be. Ask yourself, are you really interested in becoming. Or you are just following the waves.
So, I ask you this, five years from will it matter?
What is your ultimate goal
Why do you want to be a Web developer? What do you expect after being a developer?
Do you want to be an employee?
Once you become good enough. Is your intention to go and work in a software development firm. Where you’ll be paid good money. And live your life in peace. Possibly afterwards get yourself a good girl and settle down. If you are a girl reading this. I don’t know if the same applies to a woman’s mentality.
Do you want to be an employer?
Do you want to learn to code. Get good. Start taking projects. Get a couple of your friends together and build a software development firm. Where you’ll be paid to code people’s dreams. Possibly become bigger and higher more developers. There are different paths you can take here. But that depends on your interests and goals.
Do you want to be digital nomad?
This has always appealed to me. Living in different cities just getting hired to create things. The beauty of programming is that, it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you learn a programming language. And I mean learn it well. You can work anywhere and from anywhere.
As long as you have a portfolio you can get work. In this field it’s all about portfolio my friend. Create stuff. Then create more stuff.
Once you have sample work you can show to possible clients. You can pack your bag. Sell all your current stuff. And start your journey around the world. Most countries have a 90 days tourist Visa expiration. If you aren’t in a hurry with life, wouldn’t you love to be living in different countries for over 2 months. Isn’t this enough time finish a well paying project.
Get good and the possibilities will be endless. I also intend to get really good.
If I ever choose this path, maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere in Asia, or Europe or Africa .
Do you want to be bootstrapper?
This is my biggest interest. Can you imagine being able to build anything? Being able to bring any of your ideas to life. Setting time aside and working on your projects. Wouldn’t it be nice.
Bootstrapping your idea from the ground up. And if it doesn’t work out. You throw it out and try something else. I can hardly wait to get there. Right now I can. But not with the tools I want to use. So I will dedicate my time to learning them.
I’ve never understood the obsession with investors and venture capitalists. The idea of taking somebody’s money so that they can have an influence in what I do is a hell no for me.
Maybe you aren’t like me. That’s okay.
Remember when I said, know yourself? Yes. Know yourself well.
Are you just curious
So you’ve been hearing about this coding stuff. And you want to know what it’s all about. So you start learning and find out you love it. And so you keep learning more and more.
Keep learning my friend. And most importantly build stuff. You never know what might become of your skills.
To get better. You must write code. You must keep writing more code. Code that does stuff. Not the Hello world cliché .
How do you become a better Web Developer
This is predicated on the same advice that has been given time and again. The same advice that has been given on Quora. Developer Blogs. Developer forums. It is the same advice. That will continue to dominate all “How can I get better” questions.
It the advice that our lecturers never gave us in school. The advice that only people who have seen the results of the advice would give.
To get better. You must write code. You must keep writing more code. Code that does stuff. Not the Hello world cliché .
Write code in the language you want to be proficient in. Once you know how to write some code. Learn best practices for that particular language.
Learn software development patterns. Learning to write code is not tough. The tough part is learning to write great and secure code.
Keep creating stuff. Not just any stuff. Create stuff that are interesting to you. Creating stuff that interest you will keep you motivated. Don’t build stuff to please other people.
Think like an entrepreneur . The entrepreneurs that built the things that they loved. Things that solved a problem for them. And other people. Always found it easier to keep going during the tough times. Ultimately , the only great advice I feel I have given in this whole article is this, know yourself and know your ultimate goal.
If you are learning to be a developer to please somebody. Or because you heard that a 22 year old developer makes more than both your parents combined. You are going to reach a point in your life and you will hate and resent what you do.
Bear in mind that Technologies are always evolving. If you don’t see yourself as someone who will be constantly seeking new knowledge. Then this is not a good path. You must stay abreast of the new practices, new fixes and so on. It will be like investing in yourself.
If you don’t seek to constantly improve. Then think twice. And ask yourself, five years from now will I still feel the same? Five years from now, will it still matter?
Laser sharp Focus
Pick a field. Pick a language. Tell yourself you want to be good in it. Decide which is your best method of learning. Which mode do you favor in getting new knowledge?
Do you learn best by books (A book you can touch and feel it’s pages flip ) .Or may be you prefer digital books (pdf and so on) . Or you prefer videos. I’m sorry I don’t know any audiobooks that would teach you programming. Unless you are learning some theory. I could be wrong, if you know of any, feel very free to send me a message on Facebook.
Focus on that one thing that you want to be good at. Shut out all the distractions. Learn as much as you can about that one thing before diving into other related stuff. The most successful businesses focused on one thing for a very long time. That should tell us something. Something about focus.
…get used to doing boring stuff consistently and you will become amazing.
Set goals and embrace routines
What milestones do you want to reach? And in what amount of time do you want to reach those milestones?
I don’t remember where exactly I came across it. But someone said get used to doing boring stuff consistently and you will become amazing.
Embrace a routine of learning. Time spent on learning is never wasted. Learn and practice.
Focus more on the journey
Focus on the experience of building stuff. Rejoice every time you reach one of your mini-goals. When you reach a milestone, be proud of yourself.
Don’t focus on the things you don’t know yet. Their time will come. Keep pushing on. And keep building more stuff.
Don’t fear anyone
Fear no one, build your terrible stuff . So what if you are a newbie and you write terrible code.
Take advice, but don’t let criticism cripple you.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Share with love
Teach as you learn . You don’t have to be the best to start teaching others. The fact that you have learned something means you can help others learn it too.
What mode of delivery is most comfortable for you? Would you rather create videos and post them on YouTube? Or . Would you rather write blog posts and write about what you learn?
We are back again, to, know yourself.
Whatever is comfortable for you, do that. It’s very important that you do things that are comfortable for you.
Share the little you know. Keep sharing the little you know. And it shall become a lot !
The ‘who cares’ mentality is bad.
Don’t be that guy who never gives a crap. The ‘who cares’ mentality is bad. Really bad.
If something new comes up . Read about it with an open mind. If you come across something that you have never heard of before. And believe me, you will. Google it, and find out what it is all about.
If it is something that might be interesting to you, learn it. If you have the time.
Stay curious. Curiosity just made the cat smarter.
I am not the best. But I know what I am talking about. And that’s all I have to say about that.
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