Are you just starting your career as a Web developer? Whether you were hired by the Web design firm of your dreams or you launched a side hustle to help companies build websites, this must be a very exciting time for you. You are probably ready to go full speed ahead and start building the code for all kinds of exciting websites. However, it is important that you are aware of some of the top mistakes that new Web developers make, so you can avoid them at all costs.
In my 20+ years of experience as a Web developer and as the co-founder of the Live Lingua online language school, I have seen new Web developers make some critical mistakes—these blunders caused them to miss important coding deadlines (which upset clients) and, in some cases, they needed to completely start over on a Web design project. That said, here are five of these often-overlooked mistakes to prevent in your own journey as a new web developer.
1. Not Commenting Code
All experienced Web developers know how important it is to comment code; that is, leaving small text notes next to code segments to describe what they will do for the website as a whole. These comments are paramount for when a programmer has to edit the code—if comments aren't included, the programmer won't know the reasoning for particular code segments, which can create a lot of back-and-forth discussions between the Web developer and the programmer. This, in turn, can stifle overall workflow and create major project delays, which can ultimately cause your workplace's leaders and clients to get frustrated.
Yes, I get it; it can be so easy to get caught up in writing the code and figuring out how to make everything work while creating the website, rather than spending time commenting and documenting all of the code. However, to optimize workflows and keep Web design projects on track to reach certain milestones by specified dates, make it a regular practice to comment ALL of your code. You won't regret taking this small, proactive measure.
2. Not Having Backups
Think of the times you wish you had a backup of your work. Maybe it was an unfortunate coffee spill all over your laptop in college that caused you to lose a final project (just me??), or the time your hard drive crashed before you could save a big datasheet in a previous job. Trust me when I say this: new programmers don't yet understand the pain of losing all of the coding they worked on for an entire day or days due to a power outage or a glitch. This situation causes SO much frustration and wasted time, as all the code that was lost has to be rewritten.
Therefore, make sure that you back up ALL of your work for every single project you work on, no matter how small it is. It is so much better to be safe than sorry! You can back up and easily access your work in a platform like Git.
3. Getting Attached to a Certain Coding Language
Certain coding languages will work much better for different projects, so learning a variety of these languages will help you excel in your coding career. For example, be open to learning Python if you need to process data and ASP if you are editing an older website. Becoming well versed in various programming languages will open up many more opportunities for you.
4. Working in a Silo
A lot of new Web developers make the mistake of creating a work silo, where they spend the whole day coding by themselves and don't make a concerted effort to get to know their coworkers. Many programmers are known to be introverted and avoid speaking to others on their team and throughout their company, but believe me when I say this: it can negatively impact your career growth if you also work in a silo and don't talk to others!
This is because you need to be able to speak to your company's customer support people to help fix bugs, or to the sales people to know what new features are being requested. You also might need to talk to the marketing team to see what to highlight on the homepage in light of a new campaign. It would also be in your best interest to get to know all the higher-ups in your department, to see if they need your assistance. This will help you both build the best websites possible and make invaluable connections that can help you land better projects and promotions. Thus, getting to know the people you work with can be the key to career success.
5) Assuming the User Is as Technical as They Are
In many instances, new programmers design their applications for themselves; they know the ins and outs of the website or software, build functions they themselves find useful, and know exactly how everything works. Unfortunately, most people are not as versed in technology as developers, which means they may not understand how the application works, even though it is obvious to the programmer. This can cause issues, as users will have a tough time finding the functionalities they need to use and struggle to figure out how it all works.
That all said, put yourself in the shoes of your average user and ensure that it would be easy to comprehend how your website works on the first try. Maybe you need to add easy-to-follow modules that explain all the functionalities? Or add an explainer video on the homepage about a certain software function? More questions and answers on the FAQ page? Whatever the case, do what you can to assure your users will have the best experience in using the website or software.
To Wrap It All Up
Are you ready to embark on your career as a Web developer? Awesome! To ensure the greatest career success, it is important to avoid the most common coding mistakes that plague new Web developers. These include not commenting code, not backing up all coding work, getting too attached to one coding language, and working in a silo. Also, many new Web developers make the mistake of assuming the average user of the software or website they are building is as technical as they are. Avoiding these common, easily preventable blunders will help you maximize success in your career journey. Now, go out there and be great!
Ray Blakney is the CEO and co-founder of the Live Lingua online language school.