How to be a badass Front-end Developer

by Mišel Tekinder

In the world of front-end web development where things change very fast, it’s difficult to stay up-to-date with almost everything around.

Just imagine the number of CSS, JS frameworks and tools that are popping around every day, and just thinking about knowing them all is freaky enough, right?

So, how to stay up-to-date? How to be good at what you do and still learn new stuff? How to be able to work with everyone in your team? To be good enough to do your job properly?

I think it’s pretty easy. You don’t need to know everything, just need to be focused on the right things.

Learn Something About Design

Yes, you heard right, you should learn something about design. But why, you may ask?

You are developing front-end, right? That’s why! You are responsible for all that code that’s going to hold design from not falling apart. You are responsible for that slick-looking and shiny buttons that will kick someone in the head with their awesome interactions.

Since you are going to code that design it’s obvious that you need to know something about design. Just from looking at it, you need to know what’s what and how it is intended to function.

Why is this good?

By knowing your way around design, you can reduce back-and-forth in communication and be helpful to designers. It’s pretty good to be someone who can finish the job without bothering others with emails or messages.

Learn Something About Back-end

Because you need friends on the dark side too.

Yes, as a front-end developer you’re going to do much work with back-end developers, so you need to know a little about back-end languages too.

You are a developer too, right? So back-end developers will expect from you to know what they are doing and few things about their code.

Ask your fellow back-end developers which framework they use or go through framework documentation. There is always something that you can learn and help them out by reducing their work amount.

Why is this good?

By knowing your way around back-end stuff you’ll spend less time waiting for them to do small tasks that you can do by yourself. Simply by learning some templating language that your team uses you can save a lot of time. And of course, your back-end friends will be kind to you. Believe me, you need that! :)

Sharpen Your Skills

Practice, practice, practice … But do it wisely!

Find some design freebie, code it, just for yourself, find another, do the same thing and don’t delete this code, save it for later.

Remember that you’ll be better in a few weeks. After some time go back and look at the code that you wrote. It looks crappy? Maybe it’s still looking good? Ask yourself, can it be better, can you improve it somehow?

Then tear it apart and do it again, from scratch, but this time do it better!

Why is this good?

It’s good practice to improve your coding skills from time to time, and this is actually one of best ways to do it. You can choose what to do and how to do it, and you’ll also build a healthy habit improving things.

Look at Other People’s Code

Because other people know stuff too.

By looking at what other people do and how they did it, you can see things from different angle. Maybe you’ll notice some of your mistakes, how to fix something that’s bothering you right now, or you’ll find inspiration for something.

Check CodePen, website inspirations and web galleries regularly and look at what others did. Spend some time trying to figure out how they did something before looking at their code.

Why is this good?

Looking at other developers code can be very useful, you can learn new stuff or can even be inspired to do something similar. It’s not an uncommon practice to find job opportunities hidden in website source code! ;)

Hang out with Awesome People

Networking, networking, networking … !

Learning stuff is easier when you have somebody who’s awesome at something, and who can point you at right things and in the right direction.

That’s why you need to be around awesome people, not just around developers, but around designers, programmers, bloggers …

You need somebody who is going to let you know about the right things at the right time. Somebody who is from a similar area of expertise as you or slightly different.

Why is this good?

Hanging out with people from your area on networking events or meetups, even on social networks, Twitter or Slack can make you up-to-date with things that are happening at that moment. You’ll hear them talking about new frameworks, CMS platforms or even little code tricks and tips.

Conclusion

To be badass front-end developer you don’t need to be a jack of all trades or know every framework and tool. You just need to listen carefully to your coworkers and be a useful middleman with skills you have.

Do things that will make your colleagues feel unburdened, show them that they can rely on you even for tasks that are not part of your job. Finally, be flexible and thorough in everything that you do.


About the author:

Mišel is Front-End/UX Developer, currently actively working on WordPress development and experimenting with JavaScript. Catch him on Twitter!

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