4 Tips for New Web Developers
Over the past few years I have gone from working as a part time freelancer to launching a digital marketing company. I have learned quite a bit through the years, and I thought I would take some time to share some of the lessons that I’ve learned that may help others. Here are the top four things that come to mind:
1. SOMEONE HAS ALREADY SOLVED YOUR PROBLEM
This is one of the most important time (and sanity) savers that I learned in my first few years working professionally. When I first started coding I was ready to build everything from scratch from a search engine to a to do list. It was a good approach to learning but not the best approach when it came to making the transition from doing it for fun to doing it for a living.
To dramatically improve your efficiency and performance, you should realize that for most problems you will solve, there already exists a solution. Search GitHub where you can easily find open source software that will fit your needs and give you new features with very little work. Instead of writing everything from scratch yourself, you should look to see if another developer has solved your problem before.
By using already built solutions, you will be able to get more done in a quicker pace. You can also focus on building out defining features of your product instead of trying to figure out why your form isn’t posting correctly, or why you just cant get that stupid button to line up properly.
2. LEARN TO WORK WITH LEGACY CODE
Working with legacy code (code that was written before you arrived on your project) is an absolute must. There are very few positions that you will come into that will allow you to build an entire project from ground zero. This means that you will have to learn how to read code, adjust it, and extend it for your customer’s needs.
When joining a project, often times newer developers like to think that they could rewrite a mass amount of code and make it run better. However, most of the time, the code you are dealing with is not that bad. Sure it might be outdated or poorly written, but the bottom line is that it is working. You just have to learn how to update it and change it without breaking anything. By learning to work with and around legacy code, you will eventually begin learning how you can refactor the codebase incrementally, without requiring months of rewrite time.
3. IF YOU WANT TO BE A DEVELOPER, ACT LIKE ONE
This has been one of the biggest reasons for my success. Recently, I went from the mindset of development as being my supplemental income, to quitting my day job and launching my digital marketing company. This was a huge mindset change for me.
Instead of coming home and occasionally working on coding and new projects, I now had the whole day to focus on writing, improving and learning new languages and code. Not only that but I was doing something I absolutely enjoyed. Attitude is a big key to your success. Treat what your doing as a side job and it will remain one. That being said there are a few key tools and practices that I use that have made me more of a developer.
First, GitHub. I cannot stress the importance of this. Not only is it a place to keep track of your work, but it allows potential employers and clients to view your work and verify that you can do what you claim.You can also experiment with your project and make changes without fear that you would irreversibly destroy your code base. If you are not using git, you should go learn it right now.
Second, start using automated build tools. My core projects can be set up and begun development on in about 30 minutes. I’d like that to be less, but still, it used to take days to get my environments set up. Just keep looking for new tools that can help you to ship your code faster, while also improving its quality.
4. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
One thing that many people gloss over in this profession is the massive importance of great communication. Many people believe that programmers just sit in a dark room with monitors ablaze, hacking away all day. This couldn’t be further from the case. There is often a lot of back and forth with business representatives to discuss what needs to get done.
Many programmers I know have a barrier with communication. The great developers in the world are the ones who know how to explain technical matters to non-technical personnel, and then let them make different decisions about how to proceed with your software. The main point is that you must be able to communicate with the people whom you are building your software for. Otherwise, you will almost never deliver the product that they are expecting.
As always if you have any questions or want to toss around ideas, feel free to reach out to us on social media or shoot over an email. And use these tips, with hard work and persistence they will set you up for a successful future.