Web Development: Staying Ahead of the Game

As developers, we’ve all been through (and still are going through) the well-known struggles that come as part and parcel of the job. These aren’t necessarily technical struggles, they could simply be a lack in communication or even the inability to make quick decisions – there are a whole spectrum of reasons that keep us awake at night!

But…the issue that sticks out as a major concern, for me, is when we consider the growth in technical knowledge and skills.

A set of Computer Programming students took a test to demonstrate their ability to understand a simple programme and the stats showed that; 44% of those students were able to produce an accurate logical thinking of how the statement works, 39% did not produce an accurate thinking process and 8% did not even bother to work it out. The overall result led to a huge 52% of all students who participated failing the test. Read the full article here.

Concerning, right? Being someone who had – and still regularly has – this problem, let me tell you how I’m conquering this (hint: don’t give up!)

digilab-0109

Front-End Development means that there is real focus on pleasing the user with seamless interfaces and awesome user experiences, which they won’t forget in a hurry. That is exactly what I love about Front-End: the ability to be creative and cast my ideas into a user-facing website. Just to receive positive feedback is priceless and is exactly why the results by far outweigh the struggles!

All developers have their own strengths, and definitely their own struggles. For me, there has always been one larger hurdle… and that’s JavaScript. Many other fellow developers (more than you think) seem to be in the same boat. From the first moment I started my JavaScript journey, my brain just didn’t want to work in a logical way. Three years down the line progress has been made, but not at the speed I first anticipated.

The fact of the matter is: you must keep learning and pushing yourself to achieve success with programming, and if you don’t naturally think logically then you need to force your brain into doing so, even if it takes many years. It must be so easy to give up, and believe me I’ve thought about it whilst tearing my hair out over a missing semi-colon… but, when you finally figure out what is breaking your programme, there is no other sense of achievement that compares to it.

Digital New Starters-1.jpg

So, what can be done to overcome this problem? Firstly, it is highly advised that you begin to look at online tutorials and other helpful resources in good time – most are totally free to use so take advantage of it. The technological advances are coming through extremely fast which means developers of all kinds should stay up to date with all the current trends, tools and technologies available. Here are a few of my favourite places to go for everything you’ll need:

Learning

  • Team Tree House – online tutorials covering a wide range of programming languages, includes workshops and videos.
  • Code Academy – online tutorials with live code editor.
  • YouTube – there are some reliable videos available, but make sure you are watching the correct release as some may be outdated.

Tools

  • CodePen – one of my favourite tools, CodePen enables developers to not only practice and prototype their ideas but to also share them with other developers.
  • IDE / Code Editor – where all the magic happens, we can use these to write our own code and essentially start and finish our own projects or even open someone else’s and edit that. Here are some of the best ones readily available online.
  • Gulp / Grunt – these can be a very useful tools to compile our assets. E.g. Sass/Less into CSS and Uglify JS, even compress our images.

Resources

  • CSS Tricks – A useful blogging site for developers, built and maintained by Chris Coyier.
  • Smashing Magazine – Another blogging site for developers, built and maintained by Vitaly Friedman.
  • MDN – Mozilla Developer Network is a widely used resource for all developers to access information and complete tutorials, even for absolute beginners.

Over the years it has become apparent that we must make time for our progression as developers, and I can’t stress that enough. In order to make improvements, we should put several hours a week to one side solely for our personal development. I find that, if I put time aside and spend it on improving something I struggle with, it directly improves my attitude and positivity towards learning and vastly increases the rate at which I am learning.

Here’s a few interesting articles I found on CSS Tricks:

The Front-End Developer’s Dilemma 

Tales of a Non-Unicorn

They’re written by front-end developers in similar situations. It’s nice to know we are certainly not alone in this struggle, and what’s most important is that we know that nothing is impossible if you try hard enough. Perseverance is indispensable and we really should make the most of it. The information that surrounds us, the people we learn from and the knowledge we share with one another all counts towards moving a step closer to achieving your next goal.

Jodie Watson – Front End Developer

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