How to choose what to learn and focus on to get a future in web development

4th Jan 2023

This is a big question and the answer depends on many factors… that means if someone tries to give you a definite answer, you need to become suspicious and wary — because most of the time the answer is not going to help you.

But there are some principles you can consider to help you decide what’s best to focus on. In this article, I’m going to give you these principles which will allow you to come up with the answer yourself, for this year, next year, and beyond.

Instead of giving you these principles outright, I’m going to share them from a different angle that will help make a lot more sense for you.

I’m going to share with you the biggest mistakes people make when learning Web Development, because once you know the mistakes, you can reverse engineer the process, learn the principles, and use them for yourself in a much more effective way.

When you can avoid these mistakes, you get to focus on what actually works.

So without further ado, here are the four biggest mistakes people make when choosing what to learn in the Web Development industry.

  1. Not considering what they enjoy
  2. Skipping steps while learning
  3. Not knowing what’s valuable to the market
  4. Focusing too much on tech and neglecting other important areas

Let’s begin with the first one.

Not considering what they enjoy

Many developers choose to learn things based on what’s listed on the job boards.

Now, that’s smart because it’s important to learn things that others will pay you for. But there’s a huge problem if you focus on this approach and you don’t consider what you naturally enjoy. .

If you don’t enjoy what you’re learning, you won’t be able to push yourself to do the same thing every day. That means you’re fighting yourself when you learn. You end up becoming extremely tired. You slow down, and you learn like a snail.

You may even become depressed, and in the process, you may even begin to hate yourself for not having enough discipline.

But the fact is you have enough discipline — you can do something for hours if you enjoyed it. So why can’t you do that when you learn Web Development too?

The real problem isn’t with discipline. The real problem is with alignment.

Learning becomes effortless and fast when you find out what you like (and want). That’s because everything is in alignment.

So instead of learning React (or something on the job boards) that you don’t like, go and learn something you enjoy.

For example, if you like animations, go learn about CSS animations, JavaScript animations, and creative coding. You’ll love that and you’ll learn much faster as a result.

Oh, before I forget, here’s one secret that many people won’t tell you.

You’re going to excel at something that comes naturally to you.

For example, frontend development came to me a lot more naturally than design — so I’m much better at frontend development than design.

(Now, there’s a way to become great at topics that you aren’t good at initially, but that’s a topic for another day).

So Your first task for this year is to answer two questions:

  1. What do you enjoy (and like) about web development?
  2. What do you want to be able to do?

Truly sit down and ask yourself these questions, because the answers will not only show you what to focus on, they will also become your gateway to success in the industry.

I’ll reveal why these questions become your gateway to success later. So for now, let’s continue to talk about the other mistakes that people make.

Skipping steps while learning

Another big mistake many people make is to learn advanced skills like React/Vue/Svelte without learning the fundamentals like JavaScript.

If you do this, you end up getting confused because everything will go over your head. It’s like you’re driving an F1 race car but you don’t have a driver’s license… can you imagine how badly you’ll crash?

What ends up happening is you continue to read tutorials even though you have no idea what’s going on. Then you begin to doubt your abilities and wonder if you’re smart enough to be a Web Developer…

Now scratch that thought because you are good enough to become a Web Developer. I know because I’ve trained many people to become great developers through my courses.

What you need is to learn the fundamentals first before moving onto advanced skills.

You already know what the fundamentals are — HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Once you know them, you can move on to Sass, PostCSS, React, Vue, Svelte, or whatever you want, and you won’t encounter the problems you’ve faced.

Your focus then (if you don’t have a firm grasp of the fundamentals yet) is to get really good at HTML, CSS, and JavaScript before trying frameworks.

I promise you it’s going to be worth it.

Here’s a true story from one of my students. He managed to learn Vue in 1.5 days and ace an intermediate-level developer job interview after going through only half of my flagship JavaScript course.

This shows you how important fundamentals are and why when you master the fundamentals, learning advanced stuff becomes extremely easy.

Here’s another piece of good news. We’re releasing a new product called Magical Dev School that’s going to help you build excellent fundamentals in all three areas.

It’s almost ready so I’ll share more about it soon. (If you’re not on my email list, go to the bottom of this post and sign up if you’re interested to hear more).

Not considering what’s valuable to the market

Many developers go around learning programming languages, hoping that these languages will pad their resumes and make them seem like industry professionals.

Unfortunately, doing this will only show others that you have no idea what you’re doing. And it will reduce your chances of getting interviews and getting hired — especially if you’re a beginner.

That’s because you’re learning things that serve the same purpose. Instead of learning many of the same things, what you should do is go deep into one and figure it out because you’ll know and understand much more if you do this.

For example, backend languages like Node, Python, Ruby, PHP, Rust, Go, etc. all do the same thing for a Web Developer. They’re all server languages so what you need to do is to get good at one.

You also have to observe what people need help with in the line of work you want to do. When you know what people need help with, you can learn the necessary skills to provide value to these people.

(See the link to the questions I asked you earlier? This is one of the reasons why knowing what you like and want is the gateway to becoming successful as a Web Developer).

So observe and choose what to learn.

It’s better to spend some time observing for a week, then go deep into the things that matter, than to waste 6 months learning various languages and getting no results.

Now, you can’t really go wrong with any of your choices here. Web Development has evolved enough to be able to encompass all the popular things you’ve heard about. So just pick and go.

Don’t overthink.

You will have a great future no matter which combination you pick.

Focusing too much on tech and neglecting other important areas

Many developers choose to dedicate time learning about web technology, so much that they neglect other important things.

Examples of such things are:

  • Networking
  • Communicating with other developers
  • Figuring out how to actually get hired (instead of spamming resumes)

There are lots of softer skills you can learn to put yourself in a better position. I’m sure you’re smart enough and you’ve heard of some of them, but for some reason, you’ve been reluctant to learn them…

So consider this post a kick in the butt for you to move your ass towards a better future. :)

I may talk about this in more detail in a follow-up post, but to do that, I need you to ask me questions because I don’t know what you don’t know. Only if you tell me, then I know. So my email is open and my eyes and ears are open.

What to choose to focus on

Finally, we’re onto the main topic!

Unfortunately, as you can see from the mistakes I’ve written earlier, I cannot tell you what to focus on because it depends on many factors.

It will be irresponsible for me to point you in a direction without knowing about these factors and also your circumstances. Because just as the right advice is super beneficial, the wrong advice can become deadly.

The factors I’m talking about are:

  • What do you like
  • What do you want to work as
  • What’s your personality
  • Where would you like to work
  • What kind of companies would you want to work with
  • … and many more

If you want to get advice from anyone, make sure they’re paying attention to these factors before telling you what to do! (Don’t take advice blindly, especially if they don’t consider your situation!)

If you want to ask me for advice, the good news is I’m working on creating a community where we can hang out and you can ask me questions about web development, career, life and other topics you may be interested in.

I’ll be able to give you more specific advice if you’re in the community.

Now, the community is not ready yet so I’ll tell you about it when the time comes.

With this, let me wrap up the post!

Wrapping up

First, you have to become aware of the mistakes you may be making. If you’re making any one of these mistakes, stop and think about what I’ve just told you to do.

The four biggest mistakes are:

  1. Not considering what you like
  2. Skipping steps while learning
  3. Not knowing what’s valuable to the market
  4. Focusing too much on tech and neglecting other important areas

When you’re not making these mistakes, you will naturally begin to see where you should focus your energy.

If you cannot pinpoint the right direction, that’s ok too because it can be hard for beginners to know what’s going on, especially when we have so much information floating on the internet.

In that case, jumping into a community (like the one I’m creating in the future) or asking around will help — but make sure you pay attention to whether the advice you’re getting helps or harms you!

If you enjoyed this article, please support me by sharing this article Twitter or buying me a coffee 😉. If you spot a typo, I’d appreciate if you can correct it on GitHub. Thank you!

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