Recently I wrote up a list of 10 web developer tips for the @coding on Instagram and their 67 thousand followers. You can find that particular post here, while also following @coding and myself on Instagram while you are there, as they are both great accounts.
Having reached out recently to a few other social accounts to see what I could offer, Ben, who is the awesome guy behind the account, suggested a way to help him focus on providing info to the vast number of followers he had, and this was his idea.
The tips on that post are the same as below, but they go into a little more detail than an Instagram picture description allows.
1) Run your own site
Running your own site, and keeping it up to date, forces you to be the user. It’ll force you to learn new skills, like analytics, browser issues, server management etc. Not only that, it’s great to have a portfolio.
Your website needs a purpose, either as a testing ground or for writing articles like I do with this site. I don’t necessarily use it with the hope of gaining thousands of visitors. I’d love it if it happened, but the main aim is to help me improve my writing and help me understand items I write about. Either run it off a free service or pay for your own server.
2) Have a basic understanding of SEO
You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know the important items Google would expect your site to contain as standard. What websites require today is often driven by what search engines require. Like the recent Google updates about how a website works on mobile.
Keeping an eye on websites like Moz.com or SearchEngineLand.com will help you with this.
3) Keep learning
4) Optimise everything with preprocessors
Code, image sizes. Everything should be optimised so the user receives everything quickly. Do this with preprocessors to save you time and work.
Grunt and Gulp allow you to run things like minify, uglify, Scss and more on your script to not only save you time but to also allow you to make files ready for the web. These files are small and optimised so that mobile browsers can download them quickly. This will go partly with SEO, as it’ll help any rankings.
5) Build with mobile in mind
Your website will be viewed on a mobile device as much as a desktop, if not more. Have that in mind as you build the site, it’ll soon be more important than the desktop version. Use Google PageInsights to run tests on your site.
Build in mobile responsive code as you go. Don’t leave it as the last job you do before you go live, otherwise, you’ll be rewriting a lot of your code.
6) Don’t ignore server administration
Being confident in dealing with servers is not required, just understand the set-up your site is running on.
Having your own server, maybe as part of suggestion 1 of having your own website, will allow you to tentatively dip your toes into the server administration world. Some of the options available come with tools like CPanel, which will allow you to do everything from a web page. Atleast this way you’ll start to understand the terminology, without having to do everything from the command line. Plus, you’ll have the added option of support, should you need to ask questions or gather help.
7) Join a community
Don’t be a recluse. Put yourself out there. Get involved in communities, projects, events. Surround yourself with people who have better knowledge than yourself. You will improve by being around them and picking up bits of knowledge.
These communities can be in your town, in the form of meet-ups. Or meeting other students at classes. Follow people on Instagram, or other social networks, that work as communities. Or you could help out with a project on GitHub
8) Don’t assume
Don’t assume anything. Often therein lies the problem. Prove every assumption, in order to prove what you think you know.
This only mainly occurs if you are experiencing problems you cannot resolve. Too often myself or other developers have hit a brick wall while trying to resolve a problem, only to find out something wasn’t what we assumed it was.
9) Teach or Write tutorials
Teach others how to do things you already know, or write about how to do things, either on other people’s websites or on your own. Having to explain it to someone forces you to prove you understand it. You’ll have to go and check anything you don’t.
The reason for this is that you’ll have to explain things in more detail. Anything you might not be sure of, like the correct spelling of something, or the correct terminology, will force you to research and make sure what you are explaining is correct. This will allow you to fill in the gaps or build on your knowledge.
10) Do private projects
These don’t have to be for paying customers. But they can help you learn technologies and methods away from your normal job. It also allows you to try things your way, and experiment.
Like with a lot of these tips, they are aimed at getting you outside your comfort zone, because that is where you learn. Private projects will be can be a great way of doing this. Either by your own desire, or a customer/client/friends request for something.
There we have it. 10 tips to help you become, or become a better Web Developer. There are more I could have written. But the main thing is to keep learning. Technologies and techniques will keep changing, and you’ll need to change with them. Keep your skills fresh, and don’t be afraid to try new things.