Henrik Larsson

How I improved as a front-end developer

Step outside your comfort zone and try things out, as long as you're patient and curious, you'll get rewarded.

Too long to read

  • Make sure you grasp the basics, and apply them
  • Be patient and stay curious
  • Step outside your comfort zone
  • Challenge yourself
  • Try things out
  • Be humble and learn from others

I’ve almost always felt like I’m behind when it comes to front-end development. New frameworks and techniques pops up while it feels like I'm standing still and sticking to the stuff I was comfortable with.

By doing so, you get things done, but you don't develop. I was never 100% satisfied with the things I produced, knowing things probably could be done better. This feeling persists unless you do something about it. Looking back now, I’ve tried to gather some things that helped me develop.

Make sure you grasp the basics, and apply them

To step outside your comfort zone, you need some sort of base to rely on. Make sure you know the basics of semantic HTML, how CSS really works (don't start out with frameworks like I did) and why accessibility matters. A CSS-related tip is to study a framework like Bootstrap of Foundation in detail to understand how it’s built and where everything originates from. To be able to lean on this knowledge is invaluable when exploring CSS further.

Be patient and stay curious

No matter the context, things take time, most of the time I haven't been patient enough, I haven't looked at my progress at a long term perspective. It's better to stay curious over time rather than super curious for short episodes.

Challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone

They may be cliches, but they worked for me. I've mostly played things safe, held on to my “go to” framework and standard approaches, got things done, but was never entirely satisfied. In 2020 I was given the opportunity to work on a React-based search application, a really good opportunity, being able to be kind of a sidekick and observe more experienced developers working.

Shortly after, I decided to buy a JavaScript course (https://www.udemy.com/course/the-complete-javascript-course) by Jonas Schmedtmann on Udemy . Things went slow in the beginning, but step by step, things started to get clearer, and I finally thought that JavaScript was fun, a milestone in my career.

Test and try things out

I had kept my eye on Gatsby for a while, it seemed really nice, but I hadn't tried it out. Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to try Gatsby out to see what it was like. In the beginning, I didn’t really had a clue what was going on, but along the way I started to understand React and how I could get things to behave like I wanted. A few months later, I’d implemented a headless CMS, produced custom animations with GSAP and learned a new CSS framework (Tailwind). Just by downloading Gatsby for test purposes, I’ve grown enormously without any prior experience of JavaScript and React.

Be humble and learn from others

Coming from a sports background, it has been obvious to learn from the best. Bend it like Beckham, dribble like Messi and finish like Ronaldo (both Ronaldos). Why haven't I had that mindset at work? There is so much talented people you can learn from, it’s literally just a Google search away.

If you have skilled colleagues or friends, ask them for feedback or how they would solve a challenge you currently have, they will surely help you out. Let go of the pride and prestige, it’ll make you grow both as a person and professional and to learn and develop new skills.