In the sector of web development, there are always crazy things going on almost everywhere. The platform is always evolving, changing and all is happening at a really fast pace. That’s why as a developer, there’s no excuse for slacking off. You must sharpen your skills all the time while learning newer things if you want to stay on the top of the industry trends.
With all the innovations ongoing, it’s more important than ever to have a well-equipped skill set in your arsenal. There are thousands of frameworks and tools powered by different programming languages, each of them offering different features. In cases, your project may demand a feature from one framework and another feature from another. In that situation, it’s up to you how you’ll bring both of them together into your project with your innovation and expertise.
Writing a code? If you’re a web programmer, you may also have wondered – how can I improve my code? How can my code become better?
Practice makes perfect. Well, there’s nothing truer and more practical than the proverb. It’s the universal rule that applies to everyone on the planet, especially the developers – web, software and hardware and others. You want to improve, you want to become a better coder, and you have to practice. No shortcut, no magic, nothing.
Why not check out a few key points you have to focus on for honing your skills? Even if you’re not a web developer, these tips can also help you in real life situations.
Web development fields
In the case of the web, there are 2 types of development fields – front-end and back-end.
Front-end development is responsible for all the visual effects you see on any of the websites. For example, let’s have a look at W3Schools.
Now, in the case of the back-end, it’s the part that communicates with the server software and hardware. This part is responsible for performing a number of critical tasks. For example, whenever you’re chatting with your friends, signing up on a website or uploading your files, it’s necessary to involve the server into handling the data exchange.
There are a number of programming languages and frameworks available for this type of purposes. For example, for interacting with the user and the database, PHP and SQL are the most popular choices. In terms of frameworks, you’ll find tons of them – ASP.NET, Django, and Ruby on Rails etc.
Tips to improve web development skills
It doesn’t matter how decorated your career is as a developer or how good a developer you are, there was, there is and there always will be rooms for improvement. If you’re a beginner in the world of coding, the first important thing is to keep your code tidy – ensuring readability, performance, and maintainability. Otherwise, you’re going to have a really hard time in the future!
General tips for all web developers
These are some of the most common tips to follow on a regular basis that applies to any web developer – front-end or back-end. Heck, even non-web devs can improve themselves.
Let’s check them out!
1. Write code every day
This has been the most popular tip for every single developer on the planet. If you ask any well-known, experienced developer for tips on becoming a better programmer, this is the most common and yet, the most practical advice you’ll get. I know, it doesn’t sound like a lot. But the truth is, it’s an obvious factor that will actually improve yourself.
If you’re a beginner, then you should stick to the motto of “writing code every day” more strictly than others.
- Improved thinking
Let’s check the effectiveness with an example. We all know that improving our body requires exercising on a daily basis. Similarly, for improving our programmer-self, you need to do the exercise – writing code on a regular basis. The more you code, the better your brain gets accustomed to the working method of all the programming concepts and the languages(s).
Another important factor is, this gives you the opportunity of self-learning. When you’re writing more and more code, you’re obviously experiencing more and more programming errors that you have to debug by yourself.
These situations are crucial for improving yourself as a programmer, as a designer, and as a thinker.
- Code writing
The more you code, the more you have to write. This way, you can also develop your code writing skills. For example, if the syntax of a loop becomes your main priority when you’re coding, then you’re not able to focus more on the program and the problem itself.
While you’re writing code, learn the nitty-gritty of your favorite code editor/IDE as well. Any modern code editor comes up with a number of useful tricks in the sleeve. By learning the shortcuts, you can easily become more productive without relying on your mouse/touchpad.
Don’t forget to check out the best code editors for any developer. The code editors are arranged in the sequel of their popularity, features, and power.
My personal favorite? VS Code! I just LOVE it for its modern UI, advanced features and the “pro” feel. There are also others like Notepad++ and Atom in my system.
- Practicing the basics
By writing code, I mean nothing serious. You obviously don’t have to come up with new projects every day. It can be rewriting/redesigning your previous project in a different way or completing the small coding challenges available from the web. Still confused? Just revisit the basics of web development again! Remember W3Schools?
I remember it quite well. W3Schools is such a place where anyone can enjoy tons of “basic to advanced” tutorials on a number of programming languages and frameworks, for free! For any developer, it’s the simplest, yet one of the most effective places to learn development. There are a number of examples available for all the lessons and frameworks with proper explanations, also for free.
Refreshing your basics time to time, evidently, will make you a better developer. In the process, you’re also writing codes. That’s why I love revisiting W3Schools time to time.
2. Contribution to open-source projects
Open-source projects can be the golden field of polishing your skills. Take a look at GitHub for example. It’s one of the largest collaborations of millions of projects and trillions of lines of code from millions of developers. It’s a place where developers share their codes with the community and help each other developing the finest software.
On GitHub, you can easily get started by forking an existing project and creating your own iteration of it. Or, you can simply choose to contribute to an existing project – fixing a minor bug for improving stability or pushing the project further towards its goal.
This method can easily satisfy the first point I mentioned earlier, especially for the experienced developers. On your journey of the open-source community, you’re guaranteed to face numerous ways of programming a thing. The biggest benefit is, you can learn how to think like a professional programmer and solve a simple task in an unknown, creative and efficient ways.
On top of that, you get to collaborate with others on all the available fun projects. This can attract pairs of eyes on your projects as well. Working on an open-source project also improves your ability to work in a team.
The lessons you’ll earn from the open-source community can become invaluable in the long run.
3. Teach others what you know
You may think of yourself not fit to write code. However, you can still improve yourself. How? Why not teach others what you know?
Teaching others can be a fantastic and fun thing to do. Starting your own blog isn’t a difficult thing to do these days. Just sign up at any of the free blog hosting services and start writing your own tutorial blog within seconds!
But the true benefit lies deep within. When you’re teaching someone, you get to review what you’ve learned so far and how that would benefit in practical examples. You have to think about it, research it and then, write down the concept in your own language. Who knows, maybe now you have a completely different opinion/understanding of the topic?
Writing can also teach you organizing your thoughts and the structure of the topic you’re writing about. This, in return, can improve yourself as a programmer.
When you’re writing on such a topic, you may also need to do research deeper into the topic. This leads to a better understanding of the problem you’re trying to cover up.
Overall, with a blog of yours, there’s nothing to lose but a lot to gain.
4. Challenge yourself with new problems
You will find no shortage of development tutorials and challenges across the web. Leaving your comfort zone for some adventure will certainly increase your skills faster.
Why not trying to break your monotony by working on various projects? There are always new programming languages to master. It’s always possible of doing a thing in different ways.
For example, are you a WordPress developer? Then you can test out developing your own plugin! If your job is developing apps for the web, why not try out mobile app development? You don’t necessarily have to reach the next level of mastery by going through tutorials here and there. Yet, you’re still getting exposed and immersed into tons and tons of code on a regular basis which is a good thing.
Remember – the tutorials in many of the tutorial sites are developed by the hand of developers with years of experience in the field, often highlighting the newest techs, APIs and languages.
- Coding challenge
There are also numerous places that offer challenging problems. Solving them can also be a great way of keeping yourself busy. For example, here are a few of my most favorite places that offer really challenging tasks.
- CodeWars – Without challenge, there’s no motivation to improvise yourself, right? Let’s challenge yourself on CodeWars! It doesn’t matter what programming challenges you’re looking for; CodeWars got all of it.
- Coderbyte – With the best collection of coding challenges, Coderbyte boasts of making you into a better programmer for sure. There are numerous problems being added every single day.
- Edabit – We learn the best when we face a challenge. What would be more valuable than learning from real-life challenges?
That’s what Edabit offers. On Edabit, you’re offered with hundreds of real-life challenges and examples. Improvising yourself can’t just get any easier.
In cases, you may find out yourself stuck in between “too easy” and “too hard” parts. With Edabit, you can sharpen yourself step-by-step and ultimately, reach the level when “too hard” becomes the next “too easy”.
In the case of learning, Edabit comes up without any tedious, non-educational aspects. However, for makings things interesting, the platform includes the simple game mechanics. Thus, Edabit can become a really addictive place for you. Be careful!
- Become a copycat
Since the beginning of our life, we’ve been learning by copying others. Thanks to the strategy, we learn how to walk, how to talk, how to eat, how to behave and above all, how to become a human.
This is a successful strategy for improving yourself in programming as well. While you’re surfing the web, you face a number of awesome, innovative, interesting actions. Some can be simple, some can be your worst nightmare. Well, why not develop what’s already out there?
If you’re having a sharp eye, then you can easily find out thousands of examples around yourself all the time. Each of them may look simple but the underlying magic can truly enrich your knowledge, your thought and overall, you – as a programmer.
The starting “copy” project doesn’t have to be a tough one. Start with the simple things you can do. Find out an example that’s being used. Then, try to recreate the same thing with whatever you know.
Let’s take a look at a common example. You all have used the service of Google, right?
The UI is pretty simple, right? Let’s build it right away!
Complete? Then try creating a simple search algorithm (searching a string from a text) and develop a search function with a respective search result page.
Once you’ve experienced enough, you can try out some dynamic actions like your favorite weather app.
There are so many little things like this we experience on a daily basis! By creating your own iteration of these projects, you can get better at designing, at coding and applying different algorithms into real life.
- Project challenge
Online is a place where you can get thousands of ideas on millions of topics with trillions of examples. Why not try them out?
Making mini-projects during your free time is something that can benefit your programming skill a lot. Moreover, you get to show your skills with your projects to potential customers!
It’s not like you have to build all of them right now. Take your time. Set a goal.
For example, try to complete one project every day. Each of them shouldn’t take more than a couple hours to complete. In my case, if I have free time, I try to complete one project one day and review the basics the other next day.
5. Regular downtime
While coding regularly is extremely beneficial, you also have to focus on regular downtime. I know that it may sound ironic. However, the truth is, the time you spend not producing anything can actually make you more productive.
If you’re under constant work, your stress level grows higher and higher and eventually, you may burn out. The situation is never good for your code. Any programmer will end up creating sloppy code, missing the deadline for submitting the project and missing a number of opportunities. Your ability to think clearly will blur away, your problem-solving ability will deteriorate and ultimately, your health will suffer as a consequence.
It’s quite common not to pay proper attention to your body but maintaining proper health is crucial for your career. Sound health and mind are essential for becoming a better programmer. Our brain also demands a sound and functional body to work with.
Whenever you’re coding for a while, consider taking a short break. This can dramatically boost your performance for the next session. If you’re having a hard time squeezing a little break time due to your guilt, then you can think of the short break as a part of your everyday job. You can also incorporate short breaks in your everyday programming routine.
Believe it or not, a little break, even 5 minutes can boost your motivation and get you through the most intensive coding sessions easily.
Well, there’s no need to elaborate on this particular point. We all know the benefit of exercising. It improves your health, reduces the chance of developing more troublesome diseases and improves your brain.
When you’re in the continuous cycle of writing lines of codes and taking breaks, your brain is doing all the tasks while your entire body remains inactive. The lack of physical activity is actually harmful to everyone, especially those who need the mind power the most.
With a regular exercise routine, you can earn a strong control over yourself, your mind. Exercise will also boost the brain activity and better stress management (trust me, after starting my exercise regime, I can now code for longer periods). I believe that you’ll all agree how stressful programming can become.
- For back-end developers
When you’re working at the back-end, there are a lot of things to focus on. Your work will affect the performance, efficiency and how the front-end will look like. So, you have to be extra careful.
Your code should be optimized in the most efficient way possible. Don’t forget the cleanliness part as other devs might need to work on your code at some point. A messy, unattractive, jumbled code will easily lead to a disaster to anyone. Even after a couple of days, YOU will get confused – what am I working with?
Stay focused on your project. That’s a prime thing to maintain. Today is the age of social networks. You’ll continuously get notifications from all the platforms you’re on. Keep your focus away from all the distractions and focus on your code. If you need, take a short break. Walk for a few minutes. Close your eyes and remain calm.
- For front-end developers
If you’re working on the front-end of a web project, there are things you have to maintain.
Borrow your designer’s eyes. If you don’t have the ability to appreciate good designs, then your front-end designs are, most likely, going to turn into a miserable, lifeless UI. Learn what design decisions can make a design better. This can actually bring up a big smile on your client’s face.
Keep your working environment tidy. The messiness can indirectly affect your mind and as a result, your design will, most likely, become messy. Before you start coding, clear your surroundings. Now take a deep breath and start coding.
As I mentioned before, continue reviewing your basics while learning all the finest, well-known and reputed front-end frameworks.
Never compromise with quality. If you need time, contact your client. You’re bored, try to take a short break. If you compromise with your quality, it’s going to create a negative impression about you. That’s why having a strong command over your basics is necessary.
If you’re in need of a plugin, use only those that are proven and working. Bad plugins can easily plague your code and turn your life into a living hell. Well, how do I determine whether a plugin is good or bad? Check out the plugin repository or GitHub page. Check out the popularity, rating, release date, number of issues and how quickly they’re fixed.
Before you jump to conclusion and incorporate the aforementioned ideas into your daily routine, you have to accept the fact that techs and programming languages come and go. They’re not here to stay forever. While it’s a pretty good idea to get familiar with as much programming languages as possible, the main thing that will truly make you the master is having a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of programming and the concepts.
Truth never changes. That’s why it’s important to put more effort on the underlying architecture rather than mastering the new features to come out in a particular language. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, go ahead and implement them with your favorite programming language. Choose a new one if needed.