How to Become a Great Software Developer: The Complete Guide

Published in
11 min readMar 21


Photo by Nubelson Fernandes

Do you want to become a world-class software developer?

Whether your dream is to work at the biggest tech companies or bring your own business to success, getting good at coding and keeping up with industry trends is key. But what else does it take to get there, and how to become a great software developer indeed?

Read on for the essential tips and tricks that will help you to join the ranks of extraordinary professionals!

🤝 Be a team player

If you want to become a great software developer, one of the best things you can do is be part of a team because when you work with others, it provides motivation to come up with innovative solutions to complex problems and helps to enhance your professional skills.

Collaboration encourages learning from more experienced developers and allows you to impart your insights and experience to those who are just starting out. Beyond that, becoming a team player opens the door for potential career advancement and leads to valuable professional connections in the software industry.

In short: if you want to really make your mark as a software developer, don’t forget that working together is the key — no matter what.

🗣️ Work on your communication skills

To become a great software developer, you need to be more than just a masterful coder — you need to know how to effectively communicate with not just computers but other human beings as well.

That’s where good communication skills come in: from remembering to articulate every word choice and action precisely to establishing a transparent and open dialogue with project stakeholders, having strong communication skills is crucial for success in the software development world.

This may mean brushing up on your soft skills like leadership and empathy or picking up language fluency in technical conversations. But whatever the case, make sure you hone the communication side of your craft, as it will take your coding prowess to even greater heights.

💪 Practice every day

Like mastering any skill, becoming successful in software development requires you to develop competence and expertise. And the best way to do that is through regular practice.

Even if it’s only a few hours each day, the results will be worth it. So, if you want to be known as a great programmer, put your head down, forget about flashy titles or big salaries (just for a short while), and make sure you’re putting in enough time and dedication to working on those coding skills.

Although it might not seem very fun to spend lots of time improving your craft day after day, that’s exactly what it takes to become truly brilliant at what you do because nothing beats practice!

🎯 Focus on efficiency

If you want to become a truly excellent developer, being efficient is a must. Ask any experienced programmer, and they’ll tell you that mastering the basics and constantly aiming at increasing your speed is indispensable for outranking the competition.

By working quickly and accurately, you can deliver any project, regardless of how big or small, without sacrificing quality. Think of it like learning martial arts — focus on your technique until it becomes second nature, and you can start adding strength and power to your programming punches. Then, the great software developer within yourself will emerge from the shadows.

Efficiency is not only about your technical expertise and experience, though. The way you organize your workflows and use your time make a big difference too. Therefore, if you still don’t track your time or analyze your performance results, consider doing so right away.

A multifunctional time tracker like actiTIME can help you see how efficient you are and pave the way to higher productivity. It allows you to decipher how much time was spent on different tasks and processes. And with this knowledge in hand, you can analyze your strengths and weaknesses:

  • What tasks take longer than expected?
  • What functions are a breeze?
  • Were the deadlines met?
  • Was the project delivered on a budget?

Thanks to profound performance data available via informative actiTIME reports and beautiful visual charts, you can enhance your efficiency and amp up as a software developer faster than ever before.

Figuring out how to become a fantastic coder isn’t as intimidating as it sounds — just sign up for a free actiTIME trial and use our efficiency-boosting tools to reach new heights of greatness.

👀 Pay attention to details

As the popular saying goes, the devil is in the details. This is especially true in software development. A programmer must take care to pay attention to every aspect of their code: no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Every corner needs to be cut, button polished, and edge sharpened until your program is a perfect work of art. The slightest mistake can wreak havoc on your finished product, so make sure you double-check for typos and errors.

👐 Stay open to feedback

An effective way to move up the growth trajectory and find main points for improvement is by receiving input from others: colleagues, mentors, online forums, etc. Don’t be shy about asking for advice or critiques from the experts — reflect on conflicting perspectives and new ideas to build upon your methods.

Of course, it can be difficult to hear negative criticism and use it constructively, but this is what will lead to real improvement in your development skills.

📔 Build an awesome portfolio

Writing a few lines of code and calling yourself a software developer is one thing but building an awesome portfolio that stands out from the crowd and guarantees recurring work? That’s another thing entirely.

Devising an alluring layout and filling it with eye-catching projects will help potential employers take notice right away while focusing on one specialty rather than dabbling in all aspects of development can pay dividends in the long run.

Showcase your best projects, talk about your successes, and let everyone know why you’re the perfect candidate. In the end, building a winning portfolio makes all the difference between being paid well or not being invited at all.

🩹 Learn from your mistakes

By analyzing errors made, it’s possible to figure out where things went wrong and how to avoid them in the future. This kind of intellectual self-reflection allows you to move from poor or average to truly impressive results.

Even if something doesn’t go exactly as planned, being able to look back on your mistakes and use that experience going forward should be celebrated — heck, consider it a badge of honor! After all, making mistakes is part of the journey toward achieving greatness with software development.

✅ Set clear goals

Getting better at your profession is all about taking your success into your own hands, so you need to be clear about what achievements you’re aiming for. Setting focused, achievable goals is the first step — it’s a powerful way to keep yourself motivated and on target.

Think of goal setting as augmenting your willpower and providing the discipline necessary to guide your career into greatness. Make a note of the steps it will take to reach those goals, and then take action.

Achieving goals takes hard work, but with proper planning, dedication, and perseverance, you can become the software developer you have always dreamed of being.

🙂 Don’t give up!

Software developers (especially aspiring ones) can often feel overwhelmed by their dream of excelling in the industry, which requires backbreaking work and LOTS of dedication.

But don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know what you’re sometimes doing — that just means there’s still more for you to learn. And if there are ever moments where you feel stuck or overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and trust that your motivation, persistence, and drive will carry you through it all.

After all, aren’t your goals worth reaching?

🦸 Find a mentor

One of the easiest ways to get on the right track in software development is by finding a mentor willing to offer guidance, experience, and insight into what has worked for them in the past.

With their help, you can learn new strategies and develop ideas. You can use the time with your mentor as an opportunity to ask meaningful questions and gain solid advice from someone already successful in the software development field.

With a trusted mentor by your side, the journey to becoming a great software developer will seem much less daunting.

🧑‍💻 Create a comfortable workspace

Picture it: A lamp providing the perfect lighting, a desk chair that’s just the right height, background music of your choice… The elements in your workspace should motivate you to think and code better! So, take some time out of your work schedule, and hone in on those details that can turn an ordinary space into one fit for a programming king or queen.

Nothing prepares you to work and achieve goals better than an environment that is carefully curated for productivity and success.

🧭 Improve your project management skills

Planning, organizing, and communicating effectively are the building blocks of project management in any industry. Knowing when tasks will be completed and being able to envision the project’s goals in your mind is essential to ensure the planned work moves along swiftly and is well managed.

So, if you’re wondering now how to be a great software developer, start by strengthening your project management competencies — this tiny detail can take you from an amateur to an expert really quickly.

⚖️ Maintain a healthy work-life balance

To become a great software developer, it’s important to have the right mindset and be able to stay in the game for the long haul. And one of the best ways to ensure that is to keep your work-life balance as healthy as possible.

Taking necessary breaks helps recharge the brain and bring clarity to our thought processes. On the other hand, too much coding and not enough rest leave any programmer sluggish and less productive — it’s like running a car on a half tank of gas.

Thus, if you want to become the best of the best, remember to disconnect from coding occasionally and reconnect with yourself. Remember that the longer you remain overworked and overwhelmed, the harder it’s will get to stick with coding.

🥕 Take care of yourself

When you’re not taking the time to eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep, it’s hard to feel motivated and productive. But staying active and healthy can give you the energy that you need for problem-solving and bringing your coding ideas to life!

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well. Enjoying weekends away from the screen allows you to come back invigorated and ready to keep pushing your limits as a software developer.

🤖 Use productivity-boosting tools

One of the best things you can do on your career development journey is to use productivity-boosting tools. At their core, they aim to help you complete more tasks faster and with greater accuracy than ever before. They give you the freedom to smash deadlines without sacrificing quality, so it pays dividends to familiarize yourself with some of them.

Whether testing the waters of time tracking apps or eyeing up task automation platforms, there’s something out there for every aspiring software developer looking to get ahead. So, if you’re ready to explore the options you have, don’t hesitate to check out this post:

🆘 Ask for help

One of the best secrets to success is to remember that you don’t need to solve everything on your own — it’s ok to ask for help.

Putting your pride aside and asking others for assistance may seem daunting at first, but it can be one of the most invaluable tools in becoming a great software developer. When you run into snags or just need a second opinion, don’t reserve your questions only for yourself — make sure to seek out experts and mentors you trust.

Involving other people in your daily work can enrich the development experience and provide you with new perspectives and skills. So, take advantage of this resource whenever necessary!

😇 Stay humble

The most important lesson any aspiring software developer needs to learn is the power of staying humble. With the world of technology rapidly evolving, there is no way to stay at the top of your game without remaining open to criticism, new ideas, and approaches all the time.

By simply having the attitude that you are still learning, no matter how experienced you are, you can keep your mind sharp and stay ahead of the curve. Besides, a humble attitude allows one to build positive relationships with other professionals, handle conflicts with more ease and avoid them in the first place.

After all, a great developer is not someone who knows everything but somebody who can collaborate with others and quickly acquire knowledge when given a new task. So, stay humble and never let success get to your head — that’s key to being an excellent programmer.

💎 Know your worth

Before you can become a master software developer, you have to get a sense of your worth. Having a proper understanding of your capabilities, skills, and knowledge is the first step. But believing in yourself is paramount if you want to be successful at what you do.

Before you take any actions toward professional development, evaluate your skills objectively and realistically. Understanding what you are capable of can help you accurately assess the challenges and tasks at hand, allowing you to make decisions more confidently.

Additionally, never underestimate yourself. Staying aware of your value and knowing what sets you apart from the rest will empower you greater than any resources out there. It will help you stay optimistic and effectively defend your interests in even the most challenging negotiations.

In short, if there is anything that will ultimately help shape a great software developer, it certainly is the knowledge of one’s individual strengths.

💖 Enjoy the process

Being able to derive satisfaction from debugging frustrating code or reworking an algorithm is the hallmark of an excellent programmer. By learning to look at difficult tasks with curiosity and appreciation, you will intuitively learn more than any tutorial could ever teach you.

Remember: creating software isn’t just about eliminating errors. It’s also about developing a masterful understanding of technology — something that’s infinitely more satisfying when done through exploration and joy rather than tedium.

🏁 Conclusion

Becoming a great software developer is no easy task, but it’s definitely achievable with the proper script and dedication. And while these 20 steps might stretch out your journey, all the hard work will pay off if you persevere.

Every software developer has their own style, strengths, and weaknesses — remember this and make sure to take every opportunity to shine in your way. Plus, don’t forget to have fun along the way! After all, having a positive outlook can go a long way in making you great at what you do.

So don’t let anything stop you on your path towards becoming an amazing software developer, and revel in achievement. With determination and motivation, only the sky’s the limit!




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