101 Things I Learned as a Web Developer (okay it is only 53 at the moment)

December 20, 2023

One of my favorite books is 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. It is ironic because the lessons in the book are not things I learned in architecture school. The author even talks about the fact that architectural instruction is nebulous. This is the book I wish I had in school for it spills out many basic things in clear and simple language that I did not understand as a student.

After rereading the book several years ago, I had the idea of collecting lessons I had learned for my past 20+ years of working as a Web developer. Even if only to make a book for myself for the simple act of bringing it into being, it is an idea that I would like to realize at some point in my life.

I still have not made it to 101 things (only 53 at the moment). I do like that Dan Cederholm aimed a bit lower in Twenty Bits I Learned About Making Websites, though I wish his book was longer because I enjoyed it so much and it left me wanting more.

I am not sure if this will ever see the light of day or go beyond a note in Evernote. I had thought about creating a blog series that might be a precursor to an actual book. But with some reluctance, I share my list with you today. I am hoping by sharing this, I will revisit it and start adding some more.

  1. Just Build Websites – my favorite mantra from Chris Coyier on Shop Talk Show. I wish I could have been at the Front End Design Conference the year they recorded the audience saying it (which is part of the intro to the show).
  2. Learn the fundamentals along with frameworks
  3. Remember that you serve your client
  4. Employ some organizational system for your stylesheets (and j’s)
  5. Don’t get caught up in the latest argument/issue on social media
  6. Don’t let others undervalue your skills by what they think it should look like or call it (programmer)
  7. Dealing with all there is to learn – I would reference Tim Kadlec’s The Fallacy of Keeping Up, Overwhelmed by Code with this one.
  8. Don’t compare your past work with the developer you are today. This idea came from a talk I heard Andy Budd give at the Refresh ’06 conference. His talk was called How to be a Web Design Superhero He encouraged us to not be too critical of our earlier work. You can’t compare yourself to what you know today. Be proud of the work that you produced in the past. Believe that you did the best job that you could at the time given your knowledge, skills, and tools.
  9. Understand that even our tools have constraints (CSS)
  10. Understand the design of things like CSS
  11. Everyone looks up how to do things (Google, Stack Overflow, ChatGPT)
  12. We are problem solvers
  13. Build models – this idea came out of a post from Dave Rupert.
  14. Understand the semantics of markup
  15. Keep a daily log or documentation of your projects
  16. Manage your career in all seasons
  17. Find ways to give back to the community
  18. Appreciate people – I wrote about this one on Monday.
  19. There are usually multiple ways to solve a problem
  20. That said, not all solutions are equal
  21. Don’t be afraid to write about things even if you think others have written about it
  22. Blog for yourself. Write about something you have learned and can refer back to later.
  23. Know Thyself – not a freelancer, remote fits me well, side projects no
  24. Use your portfolio to tell stories
  25. Cultivate a growth mindset
  26. You can’t learn everything
  27. Recognize your limitations – can’t understand everything, can’t do everything
  28. Learn about what you want or what interests you. Start there. https://www.baldurbjarnason.com/2022/i-cant-keep-up-with-web-dev/)
  29. It isn’t your fault, but it is your problem
  30. Be humble
  31. There is a difference between being a team member and being a teammate.
  32. Kill your darlings
  33. Try the simple solution first
  34. Debugging is a skill
  35. Ask for help, don’t spend your wheels
  36. Accept help. Delegate
  37. Surround yourself with people who care about the work as much as you do. Find your tribe.
  38. Work and life are not a zero-sum game. Celebrate other’s successes.
  39. Don’t compare yourself to others – not a competition. Your life is your own. Own responsibility. Don’t try to be someone else.
  40. Admit your shortcomings. Own when you are wrong. Own your mistakes
  41. Pick your battles
  42. Welcome feedback from others and believe the best that they want you to succeed
  43. Take breaks and rest
  44. Keep a record of your achievements
  45. Don’t post or respond when you are angry
  46. Be intentional
  47. Read the documentation
  48. Keep it simple stupid
  49. Take a step back. Sleep on it.
  50. Become comfortable with stepping out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to try and learn new things
  51. Have a growth mindset – Okay so I have blogged about a couple of these.
  52. It depends
  53. Don’t use “light” font-weight for body text

I like the following quote and it will fit into one of my lessons at some point.

“Simple is nearly always better. But if it’s going to be complicated, then make sure the problem is worth the complexity. A great deal of time is wasted creating complex solutions to relatively unimportant problems.”

James Clear

This post is part of my attempt to post something every day for a month. I was inspired by Michelle Barker, who recently participated in National Blog Posting Month.

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