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9 Ways a Front-end Developer Can Improve Technical Skills
- Tatiane Aguirres Nogueira
Last week I did a presentation about career and front-end development in Europe for Faculdade Alfa, a University in Brazil. I talked about the skills needed to become a highly qualified front-end developer and how to improve and raise the level of those skills. But as this presentation is entirely in Brazilian Portuguese, I wrote this post in English with my best tips for you to improve your technical skills.
MDN Web Docs is the most complete source of documentation for web developers today. And they have an incredible learning space with a set of articles to provide knowledge of web development with everything you need to start coding websites.
MDN is not just for beginners, they have great content that should be considered the bedside material for every great developer.
Coding games are the most fun way to practice programming, in my opinion, because you practice and improve your skills while playing, this is incredible, isn't it?
I have three free and cool games to recommend to you:
- CSS Diner is a simple but fun way to learn CSS. There are 32 levels that will teach you the basics of how CSS selectors work.
- Flexbox Froggy has a simple interface that teaches you the basics of how things align in flexbox while you help Froggy and his friends.
- CheckIO and Empire of Code use a space setting and you learn TypeScript by defending your base and attacking others, while CheckIO lets you improve your skills by using others’ solutions.
Events from Front-end Community
Events have direct and indirect impacts on communities. They provide opportunities for participation, skills development, volunteering, and social, cultural economic, and environmental developments.
The easiest way to find front-end community events near you is to search for your region and event type on Eventbrite, Meetup, or Google Developers Group.
Videos that teach you how to do something are great for people who are visual learners. If you like watching YouTubers doing weird things or talking about series, you can take advantage of that and add some technical videos to your YouTube subscriptions.
I recommend four YouTube channels that I like the way they teach technical things:
- Academind is the channel of Maximilian, I love his Angular course at Udemy (which I also recommend), that I think it's the most complete Angular course in English. Whether you want to have look at Angular Tutorials or Guides, Vue.js, other Frontend Development Content or Data Science Topics, or anything else - you're probably right! Just watch Academind and take proof.
- Layout Land was created by Jen Simmons, and it’s been a while since she posted new videos, but I’m still sure the channel’s content is amazing, with videos about graphic design on the web — layout, CSS Grid, and more.
- AMI: Accessible Media Inc. is a YouTube channel to help viewers better understand how technology can assist in everyday life and how to make fully accessible content for Canadians of all abilities.
Podcasts are a great solution for developers to strengthen their skills and keep up with what's happening in the world of web development. As it's common to have a smartphone with us, enjoying podcasts is an easy way to consume this content basically from anywhere, especially when you are driving your car or traveling by train.
Here, I have four amazing technical podcasts to indicate to you:
- Developer Tea: A podcast for developers designed to fit inside your tea break (around 12 minutes). Hosted by Jonathan Cutrell.
- The Web Ahead: Conversations with world experts on changing technologies and the future of the web. The Web Ahead is your shortcut to keeping up. Hosted by Jen Simmons.
- Toolsday: A biweekly 20-min podcast about the latest in tech tools, tips, and tricks! Hosted by Una Kravets and Chris Dhanaraj.
- Shop Talk Show: A live podcast with Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert about web design, front-end development, and UX.
Developers can't imagine their lives without Stack Overflow. What makes Stack Overflow so valuable is its content. Almost everything you can think of is already there. You have a problem you can’t solve alone, you Google it. And there it is, the first link is a Stack Overflow question with the code you were looking for.
I strongly recommend you read the Stack Overflow Tour, which teaches you how to use this Q&A site correctly.
My tips for you to use the maximum that this site have to offer to you is:
- Don't forget to upvote the best answers, so you help other people find the best alternatives to problems.
- If you downvoted on any answer, write a comment to the user explaining why their answer is not correct, you will help someone who tried to help but made a mistake. And it's okay, after all, we're just human.
- Never be ashamed to ask, you will help others who will experience the same problem as you later.
- Don't be afraid to answer questions, the more you contribute by helping others the more votes you will receive. You can even unlock badges for special achievements and share your great Stack Overflow profile on social networks.
- Read top questions regularly and search for topics that interest you. That way you will keep up to date with the latest tools and technologies.
Open Source Projects
Contributing to open source can be a rewarding way to learn, teach, and build experience in just about any skill you can imagine. It's one of the best ways to improve your technical skills.
Want to contribute to open source? Open Source Guides have everything you need to know about making open source contributions, for first-timers and veterans.
Having a good portfolio on GitHub is essential for every front-end developer. Your GitHub will be your shop window, which will show companies and the community what skills, tools, and technologies you have a good knowledge of.
The best way to start a good portfolio is to first research what are the requirements of the vacancy of your dreams. Once you know what the most requested skills are, start working on projects that use these technologies and tools. You can try to recreate a famous social network, your country's main newspaper, or book e-commerce. Doing something you really enjoy is essential to the success of your application, so feel free to choose projects you like and start creating the repository on GitHub right now.
Consuming content from reference people in front-end development is the best way to keep up to date. Reading technical blog posts will help you learn good development practices, better tools, and news from the world of technology.
Medium and Dev.to are the most popular posting platforms, where you can search for topics of your interest or simply view the latest posts.
Bonus: Front-end Development Newsletter
I have a Newsletter in which, if you subscribe, I will send you only quality content about front-end development, such as blog posts, tutorials, news, community events, and tips. I don't spam, I promise. Sign up for my newsletter now!
Now tell me, which of these ways to improve your skills do you already use? Is there any other way that you recommend? Write here in the comments.