The minute you stay still in your career as a software or web developer you’ll be left behind and the wave of improvements, new technologies, and trends will wash right past you. Staying on the cutting edge of this evolution and finding ways to keep learning and developing your development skills should be considered part of your job. The world of development is incredibly dynamic, so if it’s your chosen profession, you should have a few great ways to keep up to date with these advancements and industry trends. Here are some of our favorite ways to do so.
Maintain a Personal Network
As web developers, we spend almost all of our working hours online because it is the very nature of our business. With all the communication tools available today, you have no reason not to build and maintain a personal network of professionals and friends in the industry and help keep each other up to date. It’s a symbiotic relationship that will benefit you and those you choose to connect with.
Whether you’re scheduling time to chat with one another on a Slack group maintained for the purpose, or you’re having ad hoc conversations on WhatsApp, every interaction with your personal network of web developers is an opportunity to learn and grow your skills. If you get stuck in your work or a specific task, this network will be beneficial too, because they will likely be able to assist you with a particularly difficult or unfamiliar coding task.
Online Resources and Websites
It’s very likely that you already subscribe to – or often visit – some of the big technical and web development websites and news resources on the web. Sites like TechCrunch, Ars Technica, and Smashing Magazine are all excellent resources to keep you up to date with design trends and changes and advancements in online and web-centric technologies.
You’re often expected to wear multiple hats as a web developer, or at least have a working knowledge of all of the aspects of web design. Areas like user interface design and database design and management are all parts of the web development process and having familiarity or working knowledge of these and other aspects will come in handy. Here, websites like Codeacademy can be very useful.
Forums and Online Groups
There are a plethora of online groups, forums, and websites that can quickly become an incredibly useful and indispensable resource for your development work, as well as a place you can go to keep up with these trends. Specialist web development forums and collaboration spaces like Stack Overflow provide this platform. Combined with powerful search tools, it’s a veritable dictionary of code snippets and on tap assistance from other software and web developers.
Other forums like Reddit provides a more community-focused alternative to Stack Overflow, with many subreddits offering specific specializations. You’ll find subreddits for almost any language or web development pursuit and most of them are very active, full of people ready and willing to help. Lending a hand to others will also let you flex your skills.
Attending Conferences and Events
Every industry has a thriving conference, seminar, and events calendar. Attending these, whether in person or virtually, provides almost a holistic combination of many of the suggestions listed here. It allows you to network with your peers, attend lectures, talks, and focus groups tailored for your industry. These conferences and events can be incredibly specific, like the CSSConf Europe, focusing solely on the pursuit of the art of CSS, or broader like the incredibly popular Forward conference.
You’ll find these conferences held by third party event planning companies or you might find them held by first-party companies too. Apple’s WWDC or Facebook’s F8 Developer Conferences are both excellent examples of targeted events where you can learn from the creators of the platforms, as well as keep up to date on expected and planned changes to their platforms.
Study with Online Courses
Online courses and learning resources are growing in popularity by the day. Many developers might have got their start with Harvard’s immensely popular CS50 online course, which offers an introduction to many of the theories and ideas that constitute computer science theory. They claim that more than 2 million users have enrolled in this online course, which shows you how popular this learning medium has become. These courses are offered by learning institutions directly – like the Harvard CS50, but companies like Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning provide structured video courses anyone can take for an almost negligible monthly fee.
These MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are gaining popularity and companies might often even offer a subscription to them to their employees because they are an amazing way to keep up to date and constantly learn about the world of web development and acquire new skills or pick up new coding languages.
Subscribe to Some Podcasts
A commute without listening to a podcast is a commute wasted. Think of a topic or subject and do a quick search and you’re likely to find at least a handful of podcasts dedicated to the topic. They might focus on a specific area or offer a roundup of changes and innovations in the space. You’ll find podcasts for anything you might want, and the audio nature of the format means you can consume them in many different ways. Whether you listen to them during your daily commute, at the gym, or even while working, there’s never a moment where you have an excuse not to improve your knowledge and stay up to date.
A gentle introduction to the format can be found from podcasts like Syntax and CodePen Radio, both excellent development focused podcasts that not only focus on software development but include some more soft skills and business-orientated content too.
Read Company and Personal Blogs
Perhaps one of the more nuanced suggestions for keeping up to date with tech and web development news is to keep an eye on company blogs, and those of industry people you respect and admire. If you find yourself working on a particular platform often, it might pay off to follow blogs that relate to it.
Developers and those involved in the development process might gain valuable insight and knowledge from following these often-informative blog posts. QA engineers might, for example, find value in Global App Testing’s list of QA focused blogs hosted on globalapptesting.com. As a leader in the field of quality assurance, you’re sure to find something useful in their list. Global App testing is trusted by top app teams around the world.
There you have it. Seven sure-fire ways to not only increase your knowledge and technical capabilities but to make friends and industry contacts while you do. Being proficient in many different technologies and staying up to date with changes to the ones you are familiar with will increase your value to your employer or as a freelance web developer. Software development and the pursuit of new knowledge requires nothing more than your computer, your time, and your attention. Even if you can’t practice your craft on your own computer, renting a virtual environment or cloud computing service will enable you to do so with little cost. Putting your new knowledge into practice is easy as a web developer. Never stop learning!
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