Drowning out the White Noise as a New Dev


The web design industry has been a cacophony of white noise since I started coding for the web as an amateur, then as a professional. What do I learn first? Where do I start? Even once those questions are answered, the avalanche of information that you comes hurtling over you can be enough to stifle your learning altogether.

My tip to anyone looking to get started in the field is simple: Pick something and stick with it till you are satisfied you have mastered it. Don't listen to anyone else, don't worry about what framework is the best, and don't get lost in the hype of the new trends companies are looking for. Ultimately, none of those matter to actually mastering the craft.

With all the languages and all the frameworks available to learn, it is easy to get lost in the quagmire. Start small. Start where your interests came from. I began with HTML. It did not take long to master, but once I figured out HTML, it became obvious I needed to understand CSS. From there, the next logical step was JavaScript.

Back then, JavaScript was strictly a front-end language, which meant that only browsers were processing it. That has long since changed. Technologies like Node.js have made it so a JavaScript programmer can easily walk into full stack roles. By following what interested me several years ago and sticking with it, I found myself available to do work in a whole new market: I can be a back end and a front end developer simply because of my skills with JavaScript. Knowing its limitations on both the front end and the back end made a world of difference while job hunting.

Even better? With technologies from Github like Electron, I can invest time into building cross-platform compatible applications for Mac, Windows and Linux. I did not know that when I first sat down to learn what jQuery was back in 2007. The world of web development and software development is opening up, and the primary reason I have been able to benefit is because I looked around at what was available almost 10 years ago, picked something that interested me and stuck with it.

If you are really lost as to where to go now, I highly recommend picking up JavaScript first simply because of its versatility (queue the collective groan from developers all over the place). Regardless, the language is versatile. You can be prim and proper or you can be messy and experimental. You can program behaviors for screens or you can make it go to work for you on machine learning tasks – with JavaScript, the world's your oyster. But the most relevant advice I have is to pick one, stick with it till you feel comfortable with it, and cut out all the white noise from the people who think they know better than you.

The truth is that they don't, even though some will huff and puff to get you to come to their side and see their version of the light. Don't. Stick with your own intuition, pick something and learn everything about it. Who knows what you'll be able to do in 10 years!


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