Starting a career in web development might seem like a daunting or impossible task. But with less barriers and more opportunities available, now could be the perfect time to learn some code.
Five years ago I decided to make a career move into web development, having previously worked in Psychology and UX. I’d always been fascinated by with how things worked, but never thought I could be a developer.
But with hard work, a lot of self-learning and lot of breaking things I’m now lucky to be working alongside a brilliant team of talented developers on some really exciting big-brand projects. Here are my tips for anyone considering a career in web development.
Download it. Change it. Break it
Everyone learns differently, but when it comes to code, hands-on definitely works best for me. I started out by downloading different frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation, modifying their examples and demos, and then removing bits and breaking things in order to understand how they worked.
You don’t need to know everything about a language to start using it
When it comes to code there a lot of different languages and frameworks out there. Each has their own structure, syntax and vocabulary. But just like you don’t need to know every word in English before you tell a story, you don’t need to know a coding language inside out before using it.
Sure, the more you know, the quicker it will be to write, easier it will be to read, and more efficient you will be at getting your point across. But you don’t need to know everything upfront. Just enough to tell your story (in code form).
Developing is not all about writing code
A huge part of development is also about understanding the problem, planning an approach, and then working out why the code’s not working! Spending time thinking about the problem and planning upfront can save a lot of development time later down the line and help make sure your code is concise and readable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The development community is highly engaged, super accessible and always willing to help. There’s a wealth of forums (Stack Overflow being the main go-to for most), local meetups and Slack groups where developers discuss different ideas and solve problems together. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to surround yourself with people who know more than you - it’s always a great way to learn.
Things move quickly
One of the most exciting things about the industry is how quickly it moves. So, make sure you’re flexible and adaptable to change. This can make it pretty challenging to keep up though! There’s always new and better technologies emerging, which keeps you on your toes. Sometimes the fundamental concepts are transferable, so you can get a bit of a head start when getting to grips with a new tool. But learning new things is why you’re here, right?
Have fun. Be creative
Some of the most rewarding aspects of being a developer are that every day you learn something new and solve different problems. The scope for new learning and what can be achieved is limitless, providing huge opportunity to apply new and creative approaches to different challenges.
I hope I’ve given you a flavour of what it’s like to work as a web developer, and some tips for getting started. Get in touch if you’d like to talk more.