Starting your career as a web developer can be both exciting and frightening. At this point, you have acquired all sorts of skills that you can’t wait to put into use. At the same time, you’re entering the field as the “new guy,” and you have to prove yourself. It’s easy to make mistakes in those early days as a junior dev, and while it’s all part of the learning process, it’s important to do your best and deliver the quality that your employer or client expects.
Check out these web development tips for junior devs, and you’ll be sure to start your career off on the right foot!
Find What You Love and Get Great at It
During the first year or so of your career as a developer, you may feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll likely feel overwhelmed by the amount of technology that you are supposed to understand and be able to use competently. That’s is completely okay!
Keep yourself going on those challenging days by working to figure out exactly what you love most about web development and getting really good at it. As you learn new skills, jot down the ones that you enjoy most. Use your free time to learn even more about it and work toward mastering it. Obviously, you need to be competent in all aspects of your job, but choosing something to devote extra attention to allows you to develop a specialty that could be incredibly valuable later on. And, of course, if you prove to be really good at something you love, you’ll likely be the person who is asked to do it most frequently.
Wise men have said that failing to plan is planning to fail, and they’re absolutely right. If you don’t thoroughly plan out a website before you start developing it, you are setting yourself up for all sorts of problems. Creating wireframes before you start developing a website allows you to transform abstract ideas into something tangible that will guide you through the entire process.
There are all sorts of wireframe tools for designers out there that will enable you to lay the foundation for your projects. Learning how to use them effectively and making wireframing the first step in all of your projects is a great way to set yourself up for a successful career in web development.
Work on Your Debugging Skills
In a perfect world, websites would work flawlessly and there would be no need for debugging. In the real world, though, developers spend a lot of time reading through code, figuring out how everything works, and fixing bugs. It may not be your favorite part of being a developer, but it’s definitely something that will be a big part of your career.
Get comfortable with reading code. Practice until you are competent at deciphering even the more archaic or unclean code. You don’t have to love it, but you do have to be good at it. As a junior dev, you should spend as much time reading code as possible. It’s just like learning any other language. The more you read it, the better you’ll get at it. And as you get better at reading code, you will get better at fixing bugs.
Discover Your Team’s Weaknesses
Every team has strengths and weaknesses. Identify what your team is lacking, and strive to become the person who provides it. Pay close attention to which tasks and skills your team seems to struggle with. Study up and practice to become good your team’s greatest weakness, and throw yourself into it full force.
By compensating for a weakness in your team, you are making yourself a valuable employee and showing that you are a team player. Doing so can also lead to a better experience for your company’s clients, and that is always a great thing to strive for.
Keep an Eye on Performance
A beautifully designed website is great, but a good site requires more than just nice visuals. While often overlooked – especially by beginners – page speed is incredibly important. Having a fast website boosts your search position and can improve conversion and bounce rates. Internet users are in a hurry, and if a website takes too long to load, they’ll simply go to another site. This can, of course, lead to poor results for your clients and a bad reputation for your employer. Ouch.
When developing websites, always be mindful of page speeds. Be careful when using images. Make sure they are an appropriate resolution and compress them to further reduce their size. Don’t use too many, either.
Making sure the websites you develop perform as great as they look is vital, and learning to do so as a junior dev will help you further your career.
Never Stop Learning
Whether you went to college for web development or you are completely self-taught, learning doesn’t stop as soon as you land your first job. This industry is constantly evolving. What works flawlessly one week may not the next. Changes take place at a blinding pace, and you need to keep up.
Spend some time searching out resources that provide up-to-date industry information, and follow them. Stay on top of the latest news in terms of algorithm updates, new techniques, etc. When something new comes along, build a test project to get an idea of how it works.
As a web developer, your skill set should be constantly growing. Always be willing to learn new things, and never make the mistake of thinking you already know it all. Trust us; as soon as you think you have it all figured out, something will come along that changes everything!
There You Have It!
Starting out as a junior dev can be rough, but with the tips listed above, you can start your career on the right foot. From using wireframe tools and practicing reading code to devouring as much information about this ever-changing industry as you can, there are all sorts of things you can start doing now to build an amazing career. Keep your head up on the hard days, and before you know it, you’ll be in a senior position and helping new junior devs as they embark on their own careers in web development.