What to Consider When Becoming a Full Stack Web Developer or Web Designer

Who counts as a full stack web developer? I’ve always had this concept in my head. What if I could wake up one day and think…”We need a better project management app…I’m going to build it.” or “I have this great idea that I know my friends would use, I want to see how it goes.” and actually do it…make it happen?

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A project that used semantic HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript to create a fast and intelligent user-interface, be able to setup the best server for my ideas needs: maybe a LAMP stack? A virtual machine on my local computer which pushed shippable code to my server on commit, synced databases, continuous integration, and the whole shebang. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Sure, you may need help with some of the more specific details, some sysadmin input, some software architecture or database design. Maybe an SEO expert to help with schema’s or updated Google Page Rank scoring. Never the less, if you had a great grasp and besides from launching a platform like Facebook you had a workable SaaS (Software as a Service) in the bag, ready for testing or venture capital? If that sounds like the way you think, then this article is for you.

I’ll be honest, that’s my goal. Without a doubt it is a ridiculous amount to a) learn and b) gain experience in. You also can’t be super talented and innovative at all of it. But for the most part, you could see your vision unfold in front of your eyes with you as the main component allowing it to happen. A Dr Frankenstein type relationship if you were to label it that way. What a sense of accomplishment it would be. So let’s get it started and make the first step of the journey becoming a full stack web developer.

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1. Full Stack Web Developers are In-Demand

First off, Full Stack Web Developers are in HIGH demand. Developers that can code programmatically and have a great understanding of front-end code are diamonds in the rough. However, my concept of being an evangelist adds one more layer on top of that. As much as you have the code solidified and working, you want to still be able to make the entire system look unique and polished from a visual point of view but also from a psychological perspective. How users use your application, what features you improve and how the application works for them all filters down to each individual line of HTML, CSS or PHP. Possessing this kind of skill makes you almost invaluable as you can relate to Back-End Developers, Front-End Developers, and UX Designers but even more importantly, it allows you to really get to grips with how each discipline effects the other.

2. Full Stack Web Developers Stick to a Stack

Choosing your stack is super important. You need to decide what languages you are most comfortable with. Aside from UX Design which is mainly theory and implementation. A solid grip of HTML, CSS and Javascript is a must. When it comes to the backend, although there seems to be plenty of debate about what language to use for whatever application you’re building, PHP seems the most logical to me. It’s easy to understand, open source with a huge community, and is used in the build process of some of the biggest web services we know today.

What I have described above is your basic LAMP stack – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.

When we start getting into the L and A side of things we begin looking a sysadmin role. Running shell scripts through Terminal or Putty, installing virtual machines, adding virtual host files and editing Apache’s default settings and routes. You don’t need to be a qualified sysadmin, but a good understanding and hands on experience would definitely help a ton.

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3. Be a Creative Programmer

Every developer I’ve met has their own style of development. From favourites with regards to code editors, workflows, naming conventions and more. Being creative in this process makes the process itself more unique and more creative. Whether it’s how you layout your Photoshop layers, name your CSS classes, tab your HTML or camelCase your Javascript make sure its unique to you. Even when it comes down to the way your programming logic is layed-out, whether you use PHP includes to structure file directories or a specific Class naming convention it’s important that it makes sense to you, innovates and inspires others. Who said programming couldn’t be creative?

4. Full Stack Web Developer 101: Be Mindful Of Trends, then Re-Invent

Trends are here to inspire us, to gain traction. But we should never blatantly duplicate them. It’s best to borrow. Maybe your app is really clean and minimal, maybe it draws inspiration from flat design. Most importantly, whatever you design must a) be code-able b) work for the user, not against them. Always make sure the each experience you develop is “user-centric” and not anything else. Even if you get excited about some feature that you could code up that “you” think is cool, if it doesn’t work for the average internet user, well…you have a problem and your hard-work will be for nothing.

Most importantly, your idea is what will shape your entire experience. If it excites you it will give you the motivation to carry on. Always give it some attention and it will take care of you in return. Lastly, make sure that you have a really great understanding of your technology stack. Its essentially your tool belt. See what others are saying on the net. Make sure you speak to developers that are authorities in niche fields, so things like Database Management, PHP / AJAX, WordPress, SEO etc. They will give you a months worth of learning in a few hours. So, do you want to become a full stack web developer?

This is a repost of this article with the permission of the blogger. Daine Mawer is a Web Developer, Blogger, WordPresser who likes to make cool stuffs for a living.

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6 Responses to “What to Consider When Becoming a Full Stack Web Developer or Web Designer”

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