Top Secret Tips to Become a Web App Developer

We all know that a web app developer’s job is pretty cool (even if some us can’t figure out exactly how they do what they do). They get to build all the cool stuff that makes the web the interesting, versatile and ever-changing place it has become.

But as well as being a sweet job to have, web app developers are also never short of spare change. With as little as 5 years of experience under their belt, web app developers can earn big bucks. The starting salary is generally around the $35,000 mark, but within 10 years (or less) that can easily rise to $80,000 and more.

So how does one become a web app developer? Well, obviously you’ll need to have an aptitude for coding and an interest in the web – that’s pretty much a vital requirement. But on top of that, what else do you need to know? These 6 ‘secret’ tips should help you make the journey a little bit faster, but remember; nothing beats practice, practice, practice.

Become an OOP Master

This isn’t really much of a secret, but web app development relies heavily on object oriented programming. OOP is a programming model that is based on objects and data rather than logic and protocols. Programmers define the data type of a data structure as well as the types of functions that can be applied to it. Basically it’s less restrictive and a little easier to learn/use. This is good news, because as a web app developer you’ll need to know this type of programming inside and out. Focus on learning HTML, JavaScript and CSS for the real web stuff, SQL to gain an understanding of databases (an often overlooked aspect of web app development) and a server-side language like PHP, Perl or Ruby for a functioning behind-the-scenes framework.

Never Stop Learning

Nobody ever became a successful web app developer by hoping for the best once they graduated from college. Any good career requires lifelong learning, so always keep your eyes and ears open and actively seek out new ways to hone your skills. Web app development requires a working knowledge of much more than just code; UI/UX, web design, and business and web economics are just some of the other areas involved. You don’t by any means need to be an expert in these other areas – that’s what UI/UX developers, web designers, and project managers are for – but it definitely helps to have at least a general understanding. In other words, always keep the big picture (i.e. the overall website and business) in mind.

Think Scalability

Scalability is a hugely important factor in web app development. For big name companies in particular it’s vital that all aspects of their online operation can scale up or down to cope with demand. Any aspiring web app developer should accept this fact from the very beginning, and code for scalability at all times no matter how small or insignificant the project may seem. If you know how to build a functioning, scalable web app you have a much better shot at an exciting career as a developer. Trust us on this one!

Don’t Stop at Writing Code

We don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble here, but knowing how to write code alone isn’t really good enough for web app development. You need to be as good at reading it as you are at writing it. And there’s only one way to get good at both; practice, practice and more practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. Spend as much time as you can reading other people’s coding work on sites like GitHub. It also never hurts to upload your own code so others can see proof of your credentials – just be sure to annotate and comment as necessary.

Go Open-Source

In addition to reading other people’s code, it’s an excellent idea to actually get involved in some open source projects. These are projects found on GitHub, Code for America and similar sites that need a helping hand from developers with spare time on their hands. It’s a great way to meet fellow developers, learn how to work on projects in an (almost) working environment, and gain some very valuable real-world coding experience. And best of all, open source projects provide an excellent opportunity for networking, which could land you a much coveted developer job before you know it.

Skills First, Job Second

If your heart is set on the goal of becoming a web app developer, then the most important thing to remember is to hone your skills first, and find a job second. Only when you’re confident in your practical skills and theoretical knowledge should you think about what career path you’d like to take. And that’s where things get more complicated. Do you want to be a freelancer, consultant, or full-time employee? Do you want to work at a start-up, big company or in a partnership? There are lots of decisions to be made, and it’s impossible to make them without knowing your code first.  So get your skills up to speed first, then decide on the rest afterwards!

We all know that a web app developer’s job is pretty cool (even if some us can’t figure out exactly how they do what they do). They get to build all the cool stuff that makes the web the interesting, versatile and ever-changing place it has become.

But as well as being a sweet job to have, web app developers are also never short of spare change. With as little as 5 years of experience under their belt, web app developers can earn big bucks. The starting salary is generally around the $35,000 mark, but within 10 years (or less) that can easily rise to $80,000 and more.

So how does one become a web app developer? Well, obviously you’ll need to have an aptitude for coding and an interest in the web – that’s pretty much a vital requirement. But on top of that, what else do you need to know? These 6 ‘secret’ tips should help you make the journey a little bit faster, but remember; nothing beats practice, practice, practice.

Become an OOP Master

This isn’t really much of a secret, but web app development relies heavily on object oriented programming. OOP is a programming model that is based on objects and data rather than logic and protocols. Programmers define the data type of a data structure as well as the types of functions that can be applied to it. Basically it’s less restrictive and a little easier to learn/use. This is good news, because as a web app developer you’ll need to know this type of programming inside and out. Focus on learning HTML, JavaScript and CSS for the real web stuff, SQL to gain an understanding of databases (an often overlooked aspect of web app development) and a server-side language like PHP, Perl or Ruby for a functioning behind-the-scenes framework.

Never Stop Learning

Nobody ever became a successful web app developer by hoping for the best once they graduated from college. Any good career requires lifelong learning, so always keep your eyes and ears open and actively seek out new ways to hone your skills. Web app development requires a working knowledge of much more than just code; UI/UX, web design, and business and web economics are just some of the other areas involved. You don’t by any means need to be an expert in these other areas – that’s what UI/UX developers, web designers, and project managers are for – but it definitely helps to have at least a general understanding. In other words, always keep the big picture (i.e. the overall website and business) in mind.

Think Scalability

Scalability is a hugely important factor in web app development. For big name companies in particular it’s vital that all aspects of their online operation can scale up or down to cope with demand. Any aspiring web app developer should accept this fact from the very beginning, and code for scalability at all times no matter how small or insignificant the project may seem. If you know how to build a functioning, scalable web app you have a much better shot at an exciting career as a developer. Trust us on this one!

Don’t Stop at Writing Code

We don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble here, but knowing how to write code alone isn’t really good enough for web app development. You need to be as good at reading it as you are at writing it. And there’s only one way to get good at both; practice, practice and more practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. Spend as much time as you can reading other people’s coding work on sites like GitHub. It also never hurts to upload your own code so others can see proof of your credentials – just be sure to annotate and comment as necessary.

Go Open-Source

In addition to reading other people’s code, it’s an excellent idea to actually get involved in some open source projects. These are projects found on GitHub, Code for America and similar sites that need a helping hand from developers with spare time on their hands. It’s a great way to meet fellow developers, learn how to work on projects in an (almost) working environment, and gain some very valuable real-world coding experience. And best of all, open source projects provide an excellent opportunity for networking, which could land you a much coveted developer job before you know it.

Skills First, Job Second

If your heart is set on the goal of becoming a web app developer, then the most important thing to remember is to hone your skills first, and find a job second. Only when you’re confident in your practical skills and theoretical knowledge should you think about what career path you’d like to take. And that’s where things get more complicated. Do you want to be a freelancer, consultant, or full-time employee? Do you want to work at a start-up, big company or in a partnership? There are lots of decisions to be made, and it’s impossible to make them without knowing your code first.  So get your skills up to speed first, then decide on the rest afterwards!

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