Posted April 27, 2021 Ferenc Almasi on Unsplash

So, you want to become a web developer?

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Web development: the art of making the World Wide Web a better and more fun place through innovation and creativity. Not everything about web development is dull and stuffy. There are plenty of individuals in the world of webdev who try to make it more fun and friendly to those just starting out. With the wide variety of online courses, tutorials, blog posts, and more available to you at the whim of a Google search, now is a better time than ever to get started on your journey to become a web developer. However, what is entailed in becoming a web developer?

I’d like to give some background information about myself before starting. I’m a web designer and developer with close to eight years of experience, six to seven of those being spent entirely focused on web development. I started at a relatively young age: when I was around twelve or thirteen years old in middle school. Even though my beginnings were humble and filled with many amateurish attempts and projects, I’ve now gained both enough skill and experience to tackle almost any project that is sent my way, but I still have a lot more room to grow.

Assuming that you, the reader, have little to no prior experience in either web development or programming in general, I’d like to talk about some of the very first obstacles and misconceptions you’ll encounter when foraying into webdev for the first time. One of the first things I had to actively counter when starting to develop for the web was the urge to take on huge (comparatively) projects when I felt that my skills were improving. Far too often, I would start these projects with massive scopes, only to toss them aside once I figured out that there was no way in hell that I could finish them. This feeling is common, however! Many people, even outside of programming, will start to feel empowered and emboldened once they start to grasp and get better at concepts. Often, these feelings of empowerment will cause some to overestimate their abilities and “bite off more than they can chew,” so to speak.

While I don’t intend to tell you to minimize your progress, sometimes you’ll need to sit and think about your abilities compared to what work will be required to complete a project. This introspection is critical for keeping your head on straight and your aspirations realistic. This skill will become more useful once you start working on professional projects in helping to avoid “feature creep.”

Another tip to retain when starting out is reminding yourself that you’re not going to be starting a Fortune 500 startup anytime soon with your new-found knowledge. Most of your time from here on out is going to be spent learning and discovering new tools and libraries to streamline your development. We, as programmers, often get caught up in the limelight of those who came before us, namely those who started multi-billion-dollar corporations in their garages. However, we forget that these people, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, for example, had external forces that enabled them to create these companies and products. Last I checked, many of us don’t have rich parents or family members that’ll just gladly loan us a couple hundred-thousand dollars to pursue a pipe dream in our spare bedroom or garage. Don’t get caught up in the “spontaneous billionaire” fantasy and focus instead on learning and becoming a robust programmer with a wide swath of abilities.

Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough: You will NEVER stop learning. Web development is an ever-changing field that is innovating constantly. The knowledge you had even four years ago may no longer match with what is accepted today. When I started my webdev journey just eight years ago, the concept of Flash in webpages was still commonplace and preferred to HTML5 alternatives. Obviously, that is no longer the case anymore. Getting into the mindset of “I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve learned enough” is dangerous and will set you on a path of failure and disappointment. Time does not equal knowledge. Reminding yourself that change is an aspect of tech and continuing to challenge yourself is critical to your continued success and avoidance of stagnation.

I know that this post doesn’t contain much in the area of “what library should I use” or “TypeScript vs. JavaScript” -type content but the point is that before you can learn, you must get into the mindset of learning. If you’re learning simply for the experience of learning and not because you want to utilize this information, you will end up retaining nothing. Go in with the expectation of converting knowledge to experience, however, and you’ll retain these skills for life. Don’t make the mistake I did by having no set schedule or methodology for learning, prepare yourself accordingly and make the most of your time. Before you know it, you’ll be developing with ease and ready to take on the World Wide Web!

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