by Charles Freeborn

Staying Effective As A Web Developer and Lifelong Learner

How can the individual, especially the individual who is putting knowledge to work, become effective and how can such a person remain effective over long periods of years, over periods of change, over years of work and over years of living?- Peter Drucker, Management Revised Edition

Have you ever had this overwhelming feeling as a web developer, of the amount of technologies (programming languages, frameworks, APIs, tools, you add yours) that you need to learn and use? Then the opening question from Peter Drucker is applicable to you. Brace yourself, you are not alone, I struggle with this from time to time but I have managed to find a way to work around this. Being a web developer and a knowledge worker, it is my candid opinion, that this profession is a dedication to lifelong learning; there will always be new technologies to learn, use and catch up with.

So how do we stay effective as web developers and lifelong learners? To address this challenge, I will borrow a leaf from Mark Zuckerberg. During a town hall Q and As session he had with some select Nigerian entrepreneurs and developers, while on a visit to Nigeria, in August of 2016, he answered a question on his transition from being a software developer to running a company thus:

Engineering comes down to two real principles. The first one is that you think of every problem as a system and every system can be better. No matter how good or bad it is, you can make every system better. The second part about being an engineer is that you break down problems from the bigger stage into smaller pieces that you can then solve - Mark Zuckberberg

So how do I apply these principles to being effective as a web developer, in the midst of these overwhelming technologies?

Principle Number One: “Thinking of every problem as a system”.

For me, the problem that I see is that of having to deal with these technologies, learning them and applying them in my work. Since my top priority is to be an effective web developer and lifelong learner, I take it that “web development” is the system. But web development can also be broken down into front-end development and back-end development, which leads to principle number two.

Principle Number Two: “Breaking down problems from a bigger stage into smaller pieces that you can then solve”

For a case in point, I will pick front-end development. At its core, front-end development is made up of three distinct technologies; HTML5, CSS and Javascript. Do you realize that if you try to learn these three distinct yet inter-related technologies at the same time, you will truly be overwhelmed? How do I approach this then? I simply, break down the learning into a distinct piece and learn it one after the other.

These simple principles have been the most effective way in which I stay effective. I pick the technology that I need to solve a particular problem and not try to cram every technology that is being released all at the same time.

Conclusion

I have come to realize that the earlier, you settle it within yourself that you just have to pick the technology that you will use to solve your web development challenges and commit to that decision, the better it is for you. When you break things down, you realize that learning and applying the knowledge becomes interesting.

Thanks for reading! You can give this article some claps and share it, so others can see. I am available for hire — front-end development, technical writing, or editing. Send me an email: charles.eteure [at] gmail [dot] com