Tales of a Web Designer-Developer and Graphic Artist
I’m back on the web dev path – with a renewed sense of direction and inspiration.
This may seem strange to say considering that I’ve been employed full-time as a junior and now “regular” web developer for almost a year now with a local SEO/Digital Marketing company. But it’s like my eyes were finally opened and I’d like to share what helped me have such an epiphany and what I see for myself going forward.
First though, let’s go back in time and set the scene.
When I first started (restarted) my web design/development path back in fall of 2015, I encountered a vagueness about terms like, “front-end”, “back-end”, “web designer”, “web developer” and the like. Eventually front vs. back end became pretty clear, but there was still this misunderstanding on my part about what the difference between a web developer and web designer – or even what being a “front-end web developer” really entailed.
Yet, I still had trouble finding anything that I qualified for (in my mind) because they all required knowledge of technologies and languages that I had little to no experience with (e.g. React, Angular, Git, Java) – or they required years of experience with stuff I did know.
Turns out, part of my problem was looking in the wrong place (Craigslist) and not understanding what types of jobs there were out there for a guy like me. Another part of the problem is that the course I was enrolled with at Portland Community College (PCC) didn’t really discuss what sort of career paths I could focus on, and I think it was really geared towards becoming a freelancer (which is fine) or the thought that I would need to get a 4-year degree in computer science in order to be employed as a “developer”.
Eventually I decided to look for something on Indeed, and found the awesome job that I’m currently at. I actually had the skills it required and was fortunate enough to get what I consider my “dream-job” designing and building websites.
Big Lesson Learned: Avoid Craigslist – check Indeed instead.
A couple weeks ago, a co-worker unintentionally inspired me to start listening to some podcasts. I stumbled across the ShopTalk Show with Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert. I fell in love with it instantly. Sure a lot of the terminology and concepts flew right over my head, but I soon began to see the outline of the larger web development world. (I also started building a list of terms to research/topics to learn about.)
In particular there was a series of episodes entitled “How to Think Like a Front End Developer with…” that taught me that the confusion I had, wasn’t wrong. “Web Developer” was and is a term that can vary in meaning and cause a sense of frustration.
But the big moment was in hearing about an article that Chris Coyier wrote following that series called “The Great Divide”. I read it immediately after hearing about it in one of the podcasts and then I finally understood.
I also learned:
Okay, I lied. There’s probably a bunch of other coins and sides of each coin – for example: WordPress developers who actually write complete themes and plugins. I’d probably group them along with number 2 (above) though.
Well, “duh”, you might say. Sure, I could’ve learned this much earlier by going to a meetup, or just taking more of an interest/initiative in discovering the cause of my confusion and just learning more on my own. I kind of touched on that earlier.
But with being a dad, working full time, dealing with LIFE etc. the time and motivation just wasn’t there – (plus I thought I already kinda knew). I was just taking a class or two at a time and trying to slowly pursue this goal of being a web developer. But now with these amazing, inspiring podcasts – well, I could listen and learn while driving to the grocery store, while doing the dishes, etc.
I had done the very same thing in learning Spanish, and while (currently) learning Japanese, of course I could do the same and learn more about the Web Development World!
With that, let me end this (Part 1) with just a big THANK YOU to podcasts in general and to the ShopTalk show specifically, and in Part 2 I’ll continue with what this all means for me going forward.
Until next time,