8 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started as a Web Developer

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I have been in web development for more than five years and it’s been quite a journey — trying out different technologies and experimenting with different styles. I’ve been successful at times, but I’ve also had my fair share of disappointment. In this post, I’m going to talk about certain realizations I’ve had over the course of my life as a web developer, with the hope you can learn from my mistakes.

1. Write Clean Code

Source: funny-memes.org
Source: funny-memes.org

The first thing you realize when you start making large applications is that a huge amount of time is required for debugging. Often, you’ll spend more time debugging than writing new code.

In such a situation, it’s highly important you write properly indented and commented code, which adheres to best practices. Imagine you have hundreds of lines of code, and you have no idea what’s causing a small bug. What’s worse is that if you write unreadable code, you’ll probably fail to understand what each snippet does after some time. Are you sure you want to go down that path? Here are some tips to make writing clean code easier.

2. Language first, framework later

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

People often first learn the tricks of a framework, and then move on to the language. That’s actually not the right way to go.

The popularity of Django can be attributed to the strengths of Python — so it’s important that you get comfortable with Python before trying out Django and not the other way round.

The simple reason here is that if you know about the underlying language, it helps you understand how the framework works. If you have no idea about the trades of a a language, there is no way you will understand why something is done a certain way in the framework.

3. Learn JavaScript, not jQuery

Getting a bit more specific than the idea raised above, I would like to give special emphasis to JavaScript, which is the most accessible language in the world. Any device with a browser is capable of running a JavaScript application.

The mistake that young developers often make is to “learn jQuery”. Questions like these on Quora suggest that jQuery is a very popular option among people who have no idea how the underlying JavaScript works!

jQuery is just a set of wrapper functions written over JavaScript and the only reason people prefer jQuery is because of the fewer number of lines of code required. However, recent versions of JavaScript (or ECMAScript as it is originally known as) have made the syntax more user friendly, making many jQuery functions obsolete.

I am not saying using jQuery is wrong. I am just telling you to follow the correct learning path. If you have no idea about closures and namespaces in JavaScript, how would you explain the use of “$” in jQuery?

4. Don’t just read, implement

I’ve often seen developers read through tutorials or sometimes even whole books without anything much to show for it. However, my biggest concern is how much would you retain if you just read?

If you want to learn Ruby on Rails, try to develop a small application as you are going through the documentation or a set of tutorials. If you want to try the MEAN stack, get it running in your local machine and explore the different options — that’s the best way to learn!

5. Jack of all trades, Master of one

It’s good to explore new technologies, but one must remember to stick to one for most purposes. It’s always tempting for beginners to learn multiple languages at the same time, but it’s advisable to stick to one until you develop a certain level of mastery over it.

Once you have a go-to language for your day-to-day needs, you can move on to new ones. You may also changed your preferred language in this process, but attempting to master one before you move on to others is often a wise decision. Here’s some advice for choosing which one to start with.

6. Learn version control

In today’s world, it’s very rare that you work on a project alone. To collaborate with others, you need to learn something called version control!

Developers usually don’t dive into version control until they absolutely need to do so. However, as version control is necessary to work in a team, it’s a good idea to understand how it works and the basic commands that get you started early on.

7. Learn from the work of others

Mastering a technology on your own is great, but sometimes you learn a lot by just looking at the code of others. Be it your colleagues or random tutorials on the internet, try to find why someone approaches a problem in a certain way — and ask questions if necessary.

It’s also important for developers to realize that it’s impossible to know everything, but the knowledge is out there — you just need to Google it. As a beginner, if you’re stuck there is high probability that someone like you had the same problem in the past and the solution is somewhere out there in the internet (this often happens to the veterans too!)

8. Ask for code reviews (and enjoy them!)

Over the years, code reviews have immensely improved my programming skills. Proper code reviews take time on the part of the reviewer, so you should always ask others to review what you have written — your peers as well as mentors. It helps expose loopholes in your approach, and makes you learn. If you find someone who genuinely takes interest in reviewing your code, take their reviews seriously. Here’s a look at an advanced way to code review.

Lastly, never take code reviews personally. Code is like art — it’s difficult when someone points out errors in what you have created, but code reviews can only make you better — provided you take them the right way!


This post stems from my experiences as a web developer and what I have learned from events that have shaped my life. For further reading, check out this article on how to be a good developer.

What have you learned that you would have loved your younger self to have known? Let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Web Development

What are some common misconceptions about web development?

Many people believe that web development is purely about coding. While coding is a significant part of it, web development also involves understanding user experience, design principles, and business needs. It’s a multidisciplinary field that requires a broad range of skills.

How important is it to keep up with the latest web development trends?

The field of web development is constantly evolving, with new technologies and methodologies emerging all the time. Staying updated with these trends is crucial to ensure that your skills remain relevant and that you can provide the best solutions for your clients or employer.

What are some common challenges faced by web developers?

Web developers often have to deal with tight deadlines, changing client requirements, and the need to constantly learn new technologies. Additionally, they may also face challenges in ensuring that their websites are accessible, responsive, and optimized for search engines.

How can I improve my coding skills?

Practice is key when it comes to improving your coding skills. Work on personal projects, contribute to open-source projects, or participate in coding challenges. Additionally, always review your code and seek feedback from others to learn from your mistakes and improve.

What is the role of humor in web development?

Humor can be a great stress reliever in the often intense world of web development. Sharing jokes and memes about common challenges and experiences can help create a sense of community and make the work more enjoyable.

How important is clean code in web development?

Clean code is crucial in web development. It makes the code easier to read, understand, and maintain. It also reduces the likelihood of bugs and makes it easier for other developers to work on the project.

What are some resources for learning web development?

There are many online resources for learning web development, including tutorials, blogs, online courses, and forums. Some popular platforms include Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and Stack Overflow.

How can I ensure high-quality code?

Ensuring high-quality code involves following best practices, such as using meaningful names for variables and functions, keeping functions small and focused, and commenting your code. Additionally, regular testing and code reviews can help catch and fix issues early.

What is the role of a web developer in a team?

In a team, a web developer is responsible for creating and maintaining the website or web application. They work closely with designers, content creators, and other stakeholders to ensure that the website meets the needs of the users and the business.

How can I stay motivated as a web developer?

Staying motivated as a web developer can be challenging, especially when faced with complex problems or tight deadlines. However, setting clear goals, taking regular breaks, and celebrating your achievements can help keep you motivated. Additionally, being part of a supportive community can provide encouragement and inspiration.

Shaumik DaityariShaumik Daityari
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Shaumik is a data analyst by day, and a comic book enthusiast by night (or maybe, he's Batman?) Shaumik has been writing tutorials and creating screencasts for over five years. When not working, he's busy automating mundane daily tasks through meticulously written scripts!

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