I've been a freelance web developer for about seven years now.
I started making websites when I was still in school - I used to do fun little sites for local bands, events and other things. At some point I decided to do it professionally, registered my business and had my first real clients.
I’ve learned a lot since then, and I still do now. At the beginning of 2017, I did some thinking about where I wanted things to go for me.
Why I love the web
I can still remember what it was like to build my first website. I had absolutely no clue how to do stuff, it was all trial and error. But going back and forth between blogs, tutorials and stack overflow, watching other people work, shamelessly copying bits and pieces - I improved.
The fact that I can just hit
view source on any website and see how it’s made still amazes me.
Altough I have a degree in web development now, I can honestly say that I learnt most of what I do by soaking up information available on the open web.
This is only made possible by lots of talented people who not only produce great work, but dedicate their time and energy to show others how to do it, too. I don’t know any other profession with such an open exchange of knowledge.
People from around the world actually work together on open-source projects, just to build something that others can use. Top developers in the field will share their latest findings publicly in carefully crafted tutorials and code examples on Github.
Think about how amazing that is - an entire industry where you can learn every last secret of the trade for free - all you need is dedication and an internet connection.
Coincidentally, this is also the only way people can keep up with all the new developments being made in this fast-paced industry. If we didn’t share, we’d stop moving.
I want to keep moving.
Goal #1: Get more involved in the Developer Community
Oddly enough, I’ve always felt that writing or speaking about the web was more difficult for me than to actually code or design things. It just doesn’t flow that well for me. However, I want to make en effort to change that.
👉 In 2017, I want to…
- write more and better blog posts
- speak at meetups or small conferences
- engage in more conversations on twitter
Sometimes it can be difficult to think of something worth sharing. There’s always a level of self-doubt involved.
"Somebody else has probably already written a better version of this anyway. Besides, you don't even really know what you're doing."
It’s easy to find reasons not to do it in the first place. But no matter what your skillset is, sharing your progress is always helpful. Even if you’re just starting out, a lot of beginners might look exactly for that first-steps perspective, where you can see questions that more experienced authors might not even consider.
But its not just giving back to the community. A much more selfish motivation (at least for me) is that by teaching others, you become a better developer yourself.
"If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough."
I think teaching / talking / writing about stuff forces you to organize your thoughts.
You need to research the whys behind any given topic to be able to explain it to somebody else - and that, in turn, improves your own understanding as well.
Goal #2: Do more interesting Projects
I’ve come to find that I learn best when I can apply new techniques to an actual real-life project. That’s why I try to include something new in everything I work on, to get myself out of the comfort zone.
Finding good, interesting work isn’t always easy though. This is still my job and I’ve got bills to pay, so there’s a business side to it. But at the same time, doing the same “standard” projects over and over again won’t push me forward, and is ultimately not why I’m in this career.
👉 In 2017, I want to…
- find work that lets me explore new directions
- find clients who do interesting things
- find good ideas to build as side projects
Goal #3: Work on the Basics
I’ve seen a lot of “technology fatigue” posts in the last year. And I get it - things are moving so damn fast that developers are tired of having to learn a shiny new framework every two months. People are annoyed that simple tasks can require 14 different tools now. They are also worried about being left behind.
Part of the beauty of web standards is that they never truly break. I could look at that first website I made back then in a modern browser today, and it would still work. I could still access all the content (although it would be laid out in
<TABLE>s and cluttered with janky GIFs).
A good knowledge of the fundamentals also makes it a lot easier to learn the new hot stuff, because that’s whats actually under the hood.
So if there’s any safe horse to bet on in terms of learning web technology, it’s the basics.
👉 That’s why in 2017, I want to…
- get better at vanilla JS and ES6.
- learn some of the newer CSS concepts like grid
- really focus on accessibility and performance
As with any type of resolution, accomplishing these goals will take some effort. I hope that by putting them up here, I’ll feel a little more motivation to actually follow through.
I have some changes coming up this year, and I’m excited to see where it will take me!