To celebrate episode 100 of Jaymie Jones’ Coder Catchup podcast, Jaymie reached out to a handful of people and asked us 5 questions about web development, which he then read on the show.
I was honored to be on the show alongside such great web folks as Chris Coyier, Wes Bos, Adam Stacoviak, Sarah Allen, and more.
Since I wrote my answers to Jaymie in Markdown and shipped them off for him to read, I figured I’d also post them here as well.
But still, you should listen to his Episode 100 since there are many great answers to the questions below. Enjoy!
1. If you were starting fresh, what would you primarily focus on? (e.g. as a new web designer/developer)
Beginners shouldn’t focus much, I don’t think. This is why many 101 level courses are surveys of an entire field. It’s important to get the lay of the land before focusing in on one or a few things. How else can you get a sense of what’s worth focusing on?
In web development, I think that means learning how the web works as a system. Clients, servers, DNS, HTTP(s), and HTML are the underpinnings of the web that should be understood first. Then, I’d try to use that knowledge to publish a website, soup-to-nuts. Once you can do that on your own, the opportunities really open up for you.
2. What is one piece of advice you think is most important for web developers/designers going forward?
Generalize. Technologies come to fame then fall from favor faster than boy bands. If you gained expertise in Thing A by burying your head in it and ignoring Things B, C, and D, your skills may be quite marketable today and completely irrelevant tomorrow. On the other hand, if you keep your eyes on Things A through D while working with maybe B and C, you stand a much better chance of remaining valuable as things change.
If we look at our ongoing education in terms of breadth and depth, my advice (and practice) is to go for breadth habitually and go for depth when the need arises.
3. What would you do to get out of a slump or plateau with your web career?
This depends on what you mean by slump, but I’ll assume it means waning interest in the web and my work on it. In this case, I’ve found that side projects are great slump busters. Working on a side project that I care about energizes me and helps me power through times of low motivation, especially if they’re challenging and push me outside of my comfort zone. Frankly, that’s one of my favorite things about working on Changelog. Producing awesome content for developers is an entirely different challenge from writing software itself. Plus, it usually means hacking on a few things along the way!
4. What is 1 thing you would like to see web developers/designers doing more of?
I’d love to see web developers and designers focus more on the fundamentals and less on bleeding edge features and new techniques. Get the basics right: quality content, ease of use, and speed of delivery. The rest is just icing on the cake.
5. One piece of advice of your choosing
Listen to more podcasts. :)