4 Must-Have Skills to Become a Web Developer

Introduction

In order to become successful in any industry in the world, a person should, above all else, invest a lot of effort in both personal and professional skill set development. The technical knowledge required to do the job goes without saying, but it can develop over time through practice and experience. When it comes to industries like web development, whether we’re talking about back end or front end developer skills, personal traits play a significant role, almost as much as technical knowledge or the ability to advertise yourself. As the public interest for web development increases, due to the prospect of large salary, flexible work hours, and ability to scale from freelance developer to CEO in a short time frame, we decided to create an article that will let you in on what it takes to become a web developer that actually works and makes more than just a living out of it.

Communication skills

The internet allows us to communicate and work with people from all over the globe, which brings more chances for work, expands our market, and facilitates information traffic. However, not all clients are able to communicate well in languages other than their native tongue, therefore, it’s necessary to put a lot of work in developing communication skills for numerous reasons.

You should always be able to articulate your thoughts in a manner that the other side will understand clearly. If you try to communicate using technical expressions with a person that doesn’t even understand the difference between JavaScript and HTML you won’t get too far in explaining yourself to the client. Furthermore, if you aren’t able to understand your client’s requirements, you might get into a situation where you spend a lot of hours working on a project that’s far from what was actually expected.

 

Time management

To be honest, any job skills list should include time management as one of the most important assets. When it comes to web development, the ability to prioritize and create a schedule that would provide enough time to complete all of your projects before the deadline comes knocking and leave you with enough space to have a life is of paramount importance.

It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to understand the value of time in an industry that basically creates online business space. As opposed to college where if you weren’t able to produce an essay in time – you could always buy essay on time, if you don’t make the deadline as a web developer it’s not only your business that’s in trouble but also your client’s as well as any other business that depends on your clients ability to launch their web service as planned.

It’s not unusual to encounter issues that will put your progress to a halt for a time, which is another good reason why you need to be good at organizing your days, weeks, and even months in some occasions. If your schedule is too tight, even a minor setback could mean breaching the deadline, thus losing your rating and potentially a client. There’s an old saying that “Time is money”, and with back end and front end technologies, this statement is true to a fault.

 

Deep understanding of UX

For web developers, one of the most useful skills to learn is certainly the ability to create the vision of how users want to use a piece of software and what that piece of software should look like. When you design a web application, you do more than just placing together pieces of code in order to create a coherent working product. You create an extension of your user that allows seamless and intuitive utilization of your product. User experience is the key aspect that determines how successful your product will be in the future, however, to be able to design user-oriented apps you have to educate yourself on various aspects of UX design like creating user personas, conducting analysis and surveys, design patterns and styles – it’s not easy but it’s worth it.

 

Ability to adopt new industry trends

Over time, web developers manage to come up with their own style and way of doing things to get the job done. Although authenticity is an important aspect of any business, more so when it comes to creative fields like the one we are discussing, it’s important to keep up with the trends. Remember how Nokia failed to understand that Android is the key to survival in smartphone manufacturing? The Finnish mobile phone producer was the ultimate brand in its day, but when the industry moved forward they’ve decided to stay and that’s why everyone carries Samsung and other brands that couldn’t touch Nokia before.

 

Conclusion

There are many other useful skills that you can adopt or enhance in order to become successful in web development; however, we decided to go with the most essential ones. After all, it’s important to build the foundation of your success, the rest will follow. Stay creative, stay true to yourself, work on self-improvement, and always keep an eye open for new trends and techniques.

How To Sell UX Design To Skeptical Ecommerce Merchants

With its thin profit margins and heated competition, getting ahead in the online selling world takes a tight grip on spending. Many merchants get started as solo entrepreneurs, and some stick with that approach in perpetuity — as long as they can handle their daily tasks, it’s a great way to save money and make life easier.

Supposing you’re a UX designer, though, this can make it a major challenge to sell your services. Your skills need compensation, but digital entrepreneurs are inclined to be skeptical in general, and UX can easily sound like it pales in significance when compared to something easier for the average seller to comprehend (search rankings, for instance).

You need a smart plan of attack to break down that skepticism and convincingly advance the notion that your design service is the key to spending less and selling more. You’ll need a great portfolio to showcase your skills, of course — but past that starting point, here are some tips that you should definitely follow:

Ask them about how they shop online

The main reason why people doubt the value of UX is not that they believe it doesn’t matter how much someone likes a website: it’s that they don’t really understand what UX means. Sure, they might know that it stands for “user experience”, but that isn’t the same as knowing how it factors into someone’s online activity.

To address this, I suggest starting the discussion with a prospective client by asking them about how they shop online. What are their favorite stores? Why do they prefer visiting them? And when they buy from them, what do they like about the process? Do they enjoy the copy, the visuals, the functions?

This will be beneficial to you in two ways:

  • Firstly, it will give you some insight into how they think and what they care about. This will make it easier to sell them on particular elements.
  • Secondly, it will help them understand why UX matters so much. Talking about their favorite store elements will make it clear that they like those stores for UX-related reasons, which will show them that UX alone can make a huge difference.

After going through their personal buying experiences, you can expect to find them a lot more receptive to whatever else you have to say. Make it count.

Explain how it can cut back on support time

One of the biggest challenges with advancing UX design is explaining the ROI. It can certainly be done using metrics such as conversion rate, but unless you have a particular UX ROI case study under your belt (or think you can get somewhere pointing to general stats), that approach might not have the impact you’re looking for.

But you don’t need case studies or stats to show the value of a lightened support workload, nor do you need to get deep into UX specifics to explain why improvements can lead to fewer queries. You need only point to the questions they already receive, and note how much more time they’d have to work on other things if their system worked better and didn’t confuse people.

Sellers already know the importance of investing in the right platforms. They’ll even be willing to migrate their stores if it’s needed to get the performance and support levels they’re looking for, and you can exploit that existing conviction. For instance, if someone would migrate to Shopify (with its widely-praised 24/7 service) to improve support for their Magento enterprise store, they’d surely be open to a similar argument in favor of some UX customization.

And if they worry that the time spent discussing UX will soak up the saved time, reassure them that modern collaboration tools such as Invision or Figma make it simple to get through proposed changes without needing lengthy meetings or even calls.

Use their competitors for leverage

Argue that someone should spend money for you to help them in a way their still find unclear, and you won’t get very far. Point out to them that all their top competitors are investing heavily in UX, however, and you’ll suddenly be making a lot more headway. Sellers will stubbornly cling to the status quo until industry moves around them and they have no choice but to adapt, so make it clear that they’re being left behind and they’ll hasten to catch up.

How you go about this specifically is up to you. If you can point to stated UX budgets from competitors (they may have announced online how they’re investing their money) then that will work best, but if you’re not privy to such figures, you can simply visit their websites and explain all the UX work that has gone into them (using a tool like Wayback Machine will help you clearly display how those websites have changed over the months and years).

Furthermore, once you’ve been through competitors, you can allude to the changes you’d make to their site to outperform those competitors. Faced with the prospect of not only catching up to their rivals but also moving past them, they’ll have all the reason in the world to find the money to discover exactly what you can do for them.

 

UX design can sound somewhat abstract to the less tech-savvy among us, and ecommerce merchants don’t necessarily know much about tech — today, they can rely on simple tools and SaaS companies to get by. To convince them to invest in it, you’ll need to make the practical benefits so much clearer. These tips should help.

How Basic Bootstrap Structure Works

Bootstrap is an open source as well as the most popular CSS framework. A bootstrap structure; which can be installed through downloading a free/premium bootstrap admin template after selecting from the best bootstrap admin templates; is mainly divided into three categories namely: header, main and footer. If for instance we were to create two new files namely: footer.php and header.php, file index.php previously created will take care of the main part. Code duplication is avoided by such a structure. If the footer and the header are spitted apart a lot of code and time saving occurs. It is worth noting that the footer and the header remains the same regardless of the website’s ‘middle’ part.

BOOTSTRAP’S HTML STRUCTURE

A web page using twitter bootstrap has a basic html structure which should start from type of document declaration, navigation and container in body, adding style sheets, java scripts declaration and Meta tags in header.

For uniform rendering of its components and controls across all browsers, a HTML 5 doctype is needed by twitter bootstrap. This is due to the fact that HTML 5 elements are understood by the bootstrap which makes it necessary to include an appropriate doctype tag to the web page.

 

HTML HEADER

In order for a responsive working of the bootstrap with mobile devices and latest browsers, the minimum requirements in the html header part should be to include a bootstrap style sheet and declare a viewport meta tag; which is crucial for a mobile device and bootstrap to be able to respond in accordance with the zoom level and the width of display. Adjusting viewport’s width enables browsers to appropriately respond for the display size.

During the earlier versions of bootstrap, a separate style sheet referred to as bootstrap-responsive existed. Later , an inbuilt responsive in nature base style sheet known as bootstrap.css which is a single style sheet that handles web page responsiveness was developed. This bootstrap.css proves to be very useful for debugging during development.

 

HTML BODY

Before you close the body tag in the html body, the bootstrap java script file and jQuery file must be included. The bootstrap java script file should be rendered after the jQuery file.

 

Layouts

 

Fluid layout: No extra style sheet or additional step is required to obtain a responsive fluid layout in the bootstrap version 3.0.0. It is designed to implement the responsive layout by default. This layout is highly recommended for public websites.

 

Fixed layout: Creating a website with a fixed layout is not generally recommended. This is mainly due to the increasing amount of internet website traffic that is arising from small devices such as smart phones and tablets.  A fixed layout is however needed in some cases such as intranet applications. If this is the case, steps followed to disable the fluid responsiveness of the layout include:

  • Removing viewport mega tag
  • Override width property to a fixed size
  • If you are using NavBar, get rid of expanding and collapsing behavior.
  • Instead of .col-md-* and .col-lg-*., use col-xs-* class in grid layouts.

Bootstrap happens to be a mobile- first framework, therefore anything you create or design guarantees mobile compatibility and responsiveness which honestly is more than amazing.

An inbuilt new website design for bootstrap uses the bootstrap framework’s latest version. In getting started a precompiled bootstrap version can be included using a CDN. You can also download the file. The next step is to unzip the archive file, after which lots of folders and files, which we will ignore, for now appear. Instead head directly to the ‘dist’ directory and transfer all the folders by copying to a new destination; this now becomes your project home. The best thing with bootstrap’s latest version is that it is more modular than previous versions. So assuming that what you need is the CSS reset, all you need to do is to use bootstrap-reboot.css. To use the grid, you similarly include bootstrap-grid.css in the project. When deploying an application online a minified version of bootstrap.css is needed.

Proceeding to the Js files, four folders namely: bootstrap .bundle. js, bootstrap. Bundle. min.js, bootstrap.js, and bootstrap. min.js appear. A bootstrap main java scripts libraries is contained in all these files. Things contained in these libraries include drop down menus, carousels, search auto suggests including other numerous strong java script functionalities. The minified version is used when the application can finally be deployed.

Having adequately covered on the basic structure, I will proceed on adding various components to a web page. Every single day we enter a website; these components are the things that we will always encounter which makes them a very important part of a web site. For the sake of a better understanding, the page can be divided into various parts namely:

 

Menu section: In bootstrap, to design a menu is the easiest thing to do in the web designing world. This is because it is designed to be responsive by default and even has the ability to get new appearances in smaller devices.

 

Header area: Jumbotron, which can display large headers and contents is a highly usable class offered by bootstrap. It is largely utilized by product based websites.

 

The content area: This content should be divided into three equal parts placed side by side. With the bootstrap’s flex box-based grid, doing this is one easy and fast task. A12-column grid system is provided thus dividing the screen into equal parts and all one needs to do is to specify which HTML is occupied by each part.

 

Footer area: Footer area uses the same principle as the content area.

 

CONCLUSION

The above article has therefore explained how the basic bootstrap structure works from selecting the bootstrap admin templates to end. Now you are aware about how easy it is to use even if one has no coding experience.

How to Start Making Money with Code Before You Quit Your Job

By Ryan Robinson, Skillcrush

A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.

 

No matter how rewarding a full-time job in tech may be, for plenty of entrepreneurial spirits out there, there’s one thing that’s even more meaningful than great pay and solid benefits: working for yourself.

Choosing the path of entrepreneurship is without a doubt riskier than holding a 9-5 job, and requires way more sacrifice. However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits of being your own boss and making significantly more money than you ever could at your day job, the hard work will all have been worth it.

The question I’m asked the most (by far) when I meet and speak with fellow tech entrepreneurs is, “How do I know which business I should start?” This is always quickly followed by, “How do I start it while I’m still working my full-time job?”

This makes perfect sense. With how many apps, online tools, and businesses that already exist, it can be difficult to come up with the right idea you should be spending your time on. The majority of us don’t have the luxury of being able to quit our day jobs to pursue starting a business today, without having to worry about how we’re going to meet our financial obligations moving forward with no immediate income.

And if you’re new to tech, you’re probably a little unsure about exactly what business you as a beginner can start. Well, it turns out that lots of tech companies were launched by total beginners. In reality, you’ll learn best by doing. But it’s still understandable if you’re nervous about putting your life and income on the line for a brand new business venture.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate of always starting a business while working full-time, so that you can test your way into your new product or service, get feedback, validate the business idea, and start generating income before you quit your job.

When I set out to start a new business, I always make sure it aligns with both my core competencies and my passions. In other words, I need to be good at it, and love doing it. It’s how I make sure I’ll be engaged, even when the going gets rough.

With that in mind, I put together this list of 14 Businesses You Can Start with Your New Tech Skills to help give you some starting points on proven business ideas that can be executed on. All of these can also be pulled off while you still keep your day job—and primary source of income. And the good news is that a lot of these businesses are actually excellent for honing your tech skills and transforming you from a beginner to an expert.

If I missed any good ones, please share your best ideas for tech-related side businesses in the comments below! If you’re ready to get started on a business while you’re still working, join my course on launching while working.

1. Web Design

Web designers are incredibly valuable for technology companies. Web design is all about mastering the art of creating a beautiful, value-driven experience for the people using a website or app. There are always new websites popping up in need of professional web design, and Skillcrush offers a very in-depth Web Designer Blueprint you can complete in just 3 months, to build your foundation as a web designer.

2. Online Courses

If you’re an expert at something, there’s going to be an audience of people online who would be willing to pay to become self-sufficient in your field. If you do development work for a client who’d like to learn how to cover the basics on her own, so they can stop paying you for ongoing work, why not embrace that reality and offer her access to a set of online courses that’ll teach them the basics of what they want to accomplish? Even if you just have a client you’d like to start lessening your workload with, offer to put together a customized package of content for them to learn how to satisfy their own needs after you’re gone and place a premium value on that content.

A great concrete example of how to do this is to create a guide for your clients on how to use and update the WordPress site you built. Then you can sell that package as an online course or resource!

3. eBooks

Packaging your new skills and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to those seeking to learn in your field, advance in their careers, or start their own businesses, makes for a strong value proposition if you target the right audience. Check out Leslie Samuel’s great guide to selling eBooks online and start building your strategy.

4. Freelance WordPress Developer

Countless small businesses start out their web presence using a WordPress hosted website before needing to upgrade to other solutions for various reasons. Many of them will pay several thousands of dollars for someone to get them set up online, especially if they need customized features outside the scope of a limited template. You’ll be able to set your own hours, select the clients you want to work with, and work remotely from wherever you choose. Enroll in the Skillcrush WordPress Developer Blueprint and to get the skills you need to make it happen.

5. Online Coaching

As with online coaching and selling eBooks, when you have something you’re skilled at and very passionate about, you can turn that winning combination into offering your services with one-on-one online coaching. Regina Anaejionu will give you a step-by-step plan for putting your skills and experience to work by developing an online coaching business. Check out her content for a jump start on this career.

6. Web Development

As a web developer, you’ll have incredibly valuable skills that are in extremely high demand. Once you command a knowledge of HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript, you can start taking on freelance projects to build your portfolio while you still hold your full-time job. In the Skillcrush Web Development Blueprint, you’ll learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, and even get a start on the much-loved Ruby programming language.

7. Podcasting

If you can create a regular audience for your podcast that teaches others how to advance their tech skills, this is a great way to get sponsors. At CreativeLive, I regularly pay $50-$250 (or more depending on audience size) per episode for a 30 second advertisement on relevant podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, the #1 business podcast right now.

Naturally, it helps if you already have an online audience you can tap for listening to your regular podcast, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from building successful businesses on the back of podcasting and offering free content on specific topics. Listen to this great episode of the Conscious Millionaire podcast for an interview with John Lee Dumas on how to make money podcasting.

8. Affiliate Sales and Marketing

If you already have a website that’s driving in targeted traffic, a great way to make passive income from the content you’re already creating is through affiliate marketing.

Perhaps your blog content is geared toward teaching others how to build their own WordPress websites or create custom plugins, or you offer free tutorials on building a mobile app. You can monetize the traffic to your website using ClickbankSkimlinks, and Rakuten—all great affiliate marketing tools and networks that can help you make money from the content you already produce.

9. Tech Blogging

Think blogging is no longer a viable source of income? Think again. Thousands of bloggers creating content around the applications of tech skills are launching self-employed careers thanks to a combination of collecting blog subscribers, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and other revenue streams. Start with Amy Andrews’ ultimate free Guide to Making Money Blogging.

10. Landing Page Specialist

If you have a way with words and know how to make the keyword-friendly, beautifully designed, SEO-optimized landing pages, why not charge others for your services? Even a short, customized landing page is worth a couple hundred dollars or more in most cases. Just check out what Freelance Copywriter Mike is up to for some inspiration.

11. Develop an App

Sometimes it seems like there’s an app for everything. Yet somehow, new ones keep popping up and selling for lots of money, all the time. If you spot a niche that hasn’t been filled to its potential just yet, and you can learn the coding skills, you could be onto something. Just make sure you validate your app idea before jumping too far in.

12. Copywriting for Websites

It’s not for everyone, but if your tech skills can get you through the door for doing work with a client, and you also have a knack for writing compelling copy, this is a great add-on service. With experience and a great portfolio, you can charge just as much for your copywriting services as you can for your time developing. Pick up this free guide to launching a freelance writing career.

13. Start a YouTube Channel

If you can create value-driven, entertaining video content around tutorials and actionable tips and tricks, people will be happily subscribe to your regular free content. If you can grow your subscriber base to a few thousand subscribers, your videos can start generating pretty substantial income from ads being displayed on them. Many YouTube users make well into the millions each year.

14. Online Subcontracting

Once you’ve established yourself as a freelancer, subcontracting your jobs out to other freelancers can help you significantly grow your client list and revenue generating possibilities.

15. What Did I Miss

Share in the comments if I’m missing any great business ideas that you can start with your tech skills. Bonus points if you’ve already gotten started on it, and share the link to your website.

 

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How to Fake It Till You Make It in Tech

By Scott Morris, Skillcrush

A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.

One minute you’re chatting confidently with your coworkers—throwing around jargon left and right—and the next, you feel like you’ve jumped into the deep end of the proverbial pool. Sheer panic. But don’t worry: It’s okay not to know everything, and—in fact—knowing what you don’t know is crucial for success in a tech career. So how can you navigate conversations about new tech or industry changes without sounding like you’re totally out of the loop—or pulling our editor’s move of hearing unfamiliar terms in meetings and frantically googling them on her phone?

I asked four tech professionals to weigh in on faking it, making it, and how the two relate in a professional setting—and right from the jump, one thing’s clear: whether you’re a bootstrapping entrepreneur or working your way up the ranks of an established company, everyone has moments at work when they feel like they’re totally pulling things out of thin air. But it turns out, faking it can be traded in for making it with just a little bit of outlook adjustment.

Mark Cook, Director of Marketing at ApplinSkinner, says that some of the most skilled tech professionals he knows still suffer from imposter syndrome. Since tech has so many specialized fields, even if you’re an expert in one field (or many), it’s a given that you’ll find yourself out of your depth at some point, he says. A UX designer doesn’t necessarily know the same things a front end developer does, and vice versa.

Cook’s advice in these situations is to be proactive and treat them as learning experiences. If you find yourself in a meeting or conversation that’s straying into unknown territory, be up front about it and move into question mode. “[People are talking to you] for a reason,” says Cook. “You’re there…because you [do] know about something.” No matter how out of place or unprepared you might feel, you’re still being asked to participate in that meeting,. interview, or chat. Lean on your own expertise in the conversation.

One way in is to ask about the comparative pros and cons between the new tech being discussed and the tech you’re already comfortable with. That way, you can get information about what they’re talking about while still contributing your own knowledge. It’s also a way to be honest—asking questions instead of pretending to be an expert avoids the risk of coming off as disingenuous, Cook says.

Ask away, and remember that engaging in these conversations is also a career win. You’ll always be learning, especially in the tech industry, and the sooner you become comfortable with that, the more successful you’ll be.

Lest you think that this feeling only happens to beginners, Ellen Butler, UX Director at Happy Boards, says that sometimes it’s career success itself—and the changes that come with it—that brings on those creeping feelings of faking it. At a past job, Butler found herself moving from Account Manager to a member of the UX team overnight. Because of her sudden position change and feelings of insecurity in a new field, Butler says she found client interactions particularly terrifying—it’s hard enough to be in a new environment and feeling like an imposter among colleagues, but those feeling are more magnified and intimidating when you’re expected to deliver for a customer.

Eventually, Butler says, being open with her team and trusting them allowed her to realize it was okay to tell clients, “Let me check on that and get back to you.” Butler credits her co-workers with accommodating her newness to the field, and says they had no problem jumping in to answer questions until she got her bearings. In fact, Butler says it might be better to skip the notion of faking it all together. “Honesty is refreshing,” says Butler. “So many of us in the tech world are entering from all kinds of different places: different backgrounds, different career paths, different educations. To assume we all know the same things is frustrating and short-sighted. The only way we’ll all learn from our communal knowledge is by being unafraid to ask questions.”

If asking questions doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, you can try the approach that Jan Bednar, CEO of ShipMonk, takes. He does what you might call a strategic form of winging it. Take, for example, a moment when a client asked about his company’s ability to integrate with the client’s platform. “I knew that we could integrate with the platform, but I honestly didn’t understand the mechanism that allowed [us to do it].” At a loss, Bednar started drawing a diagram on a whiteboard to walk his client through the process, and by the end, Bednar was able to articulate the mystery integration mechanism. The lesson here, says Bednar, is to recognize and accept those moments when you don’t know something, and allow the things you do know to help fill in the gaps. Your path to understanding may be half-built, but it’s also all you need.

Fake? You’re as real as it gets, so if you’re ready to put your hopefully newfound confidence to the test and hit the job search, download our free Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Resume. Just remember: Take a breath, don’t be afraid to be honest, ask questions, or rely on the knowledge you already have to wing it.

 

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The Best Sites to Find Pre-Written Code Snippets

A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.

If you’re thinking about learning to code or you’re new to the programming scene, one of the most intimidating parts of getting started is the sheer enormity of it all—unlike building things in the physical world where you don’t usually produce basic building components yourself, building a website is an exercise in creating something out of nothing using only coding language. Where do you even begin and how can you possibly get it all done in a reasonable amount of time?

One secret of the programming trade is that building websites or other applications isn’t all that different from building in the real world—just like most contractors don’t manufacture their own bricks, or cabinet boxes, or flooring, coders don’t always need to build everything from scratch, either. The more you learn about coding, the more you’ll start to see that certain basic and repetitive functions—for instance building menus, tables, or forms on a website—don’t need to be reinvented each time you sit down at your computer. You’ll write code along the way that you’ll be able to call on again in the future (rather than rewriting it), but—on top of that—there will be times when you won’t even have to write the code yourself to begin with.

No, we’re not talking about plagiarism, we’re talking about the open source, collaborative nature of tech—the fact that websites and forums exist all over the internet where coders who’ve come before you share their solutions to coding problems in the form of short bits of code called code snippets. Other programmers are then able use those snippets themselves, possibly even adding to or improving on them.

In order to shed more light on the fact that you’re not alone, coding doesn’t always have to start from the ground up, and that there’s a whole world of resources out there ready to provide you with inspiration, guidance, and shortcuts, we’re giving you a roundup of four solid sites for finding code snippets. You can study these snippets, incorporate them into your own development projects, and eventually even start sharing snippets you’ve written with other coders.

1. Stack Overflow

If you’re looking for examples of code to help you puzzle through a dev problem or tackle a routine function that doesn’t need to be rebuilt from the ground up, Stack Overflow should be at the top of your resource list. Stack Overflow is an online forum for programmers built around a question and answer format—making it an ideal starting place for beginners, but it’s no less useful as you level-up your skills.

The Stack Overflow model is incredibly simple—users post questions and other users post answers. Popular answers are upvoted by users viewing the question, and the original poster can choose to check off the answer they find most helpful as “accepted.” The guidelines on Stack Overflow include limiting questions to specific programming problems, software algorithms, coding techniques, and software developer tools. Posters are also asked to try to find a solution themselves before posting a question, and to include examples of those attempts in their post.

Because many of the questions posted on Stack Overflow are specific to coding issues (and are publicly searchable), answers often take the form of sample code, making it a great repository for practical code snippets. In the case of reusing material from Stack Overflow, the site administrators ask that developers attribute their sources. Notes attributing code snippets to their original posters can be easily added to your own code with HTML comment tags (e.g. ).

Participating in a forum like Stack Overflow isn’t just a great launching pad for learning basic coding tricks and finding code snippets to use, it’ll also help you plug into the larger programming community, and that kind of active participation can be a helpful talking point when you’re networking or interviewing for jobs.

2. CodePen

CodePen is a favorite resource with our Skillcrush dev team, and for good reason—with a robust set of features and a community-based approach to sharing and presenting code, CodePen is a premiere site for picking up coding tips and tricks from other users, and returning the favor when you make your own programming breakthroughs.

“Pens” refer to sets of HTMLCSS, and JavaScript code that users upload to their CodePen profile, where they can receive feedback on their code and continue to edit it after it’s been posted. CodePen has a free to use, built-in text editor for creating Pens, which includes helpful, code-centric features like syntax highlighting (displaying text in different colors and fonts based on its coding categories), Emmet (a coding efficiency tool that autocompletes code and expands shorthand into full-fledged code), and find and replace (allowing you to zip through lines of code without struggling to keep or find your spot). CodePen’s editor also has a live preview area on-screen that updates and displays the results of your code as you edit it.

Publicly posted Pens can be searched and viewed by anyone, which means that if you come across a particularly helpful piece of code you can add it to your own toolkit—public pens are considered open source, so it’s perfectly legal (and ethical) to use them, share them, and alter them as you see fit. For instance, if you want to create a “swinging image” effect with CSS and need some inspiration or pointers to figure out how, it’s fine to incorporate this effect by Christopher Mlalazi into your own site, and to use it (or add your own tweaks to it) in future situations—that’s the spirit of open source. However, don’t forget to also be a good community member—CodePen allows you to “heart” Pens you find helpful, and their “fork” feature for copying code helps maintain a trail of borrowed code back to its original programmer. Be sure to use both of these features when you borrow code.

3. Code My UI

Whether you’re looking for inspiration to breathe life into a dull user interface or have an idea in mind for your site that you can’t quite pull off, Code My UI is a treasure trove of code snippets that can help take your design to the next level. Unlike CodePen or Stack Overflow, Code My UI isn’t a user community—you won’t find any social media features or community forums—but what it lacks in interaction, it makes up for in being a straightforward listing of practical code applications.

Code My UI’s snippets aren’t posted directly by users—instead they’re curated by the site’s admins from other code repository sites, But—unlike repository sites that involve wading through Q&A’s or forum posts—Code My UI’s snippets are presented in an easy-to-browse layout that lists the snippet’s name and description, a link to its original source, and—most helpfully—an example of the code in action.

Rather than presenting the description “Pure CSS Gradient Color Slide Puzzle Style Loading Animation” with no context other than the raw source code, you’ll see an image of the loading animation as it will appear on a site using the code. This can be particularly helpful if you’re still getting your tech legs underneath you and a description alone doesn’t automatically conjure an image of the finished product—and, even if you’re a seasoned vet, it’s still nice to be able to see a working example of the code you might be using.

Code My UI regularly adds new code snippets to its site, and has a search bar that helps you zero in on the topics and functions you’re looking for.

4. GenerateWP

If you’re working with WordPress—a widely used content management system that lets you write, edit, and publish content on the web—GenerateWP is a tool you need to get familiar with ASAP. GenerateWP is a website that generates code for WordPress site features—menus, toolbars, sidebars etc.—using online forms that give specifications for the feature you’re trying to build. Your completed forms produce code that meets the latest WordPress coding standards and that you can then cut and paste onto your own site.

In addition to using GenerateWP to generate WordPress code yourself, you can also browse code generated by other users—by clicking on the homepage’s “Snippets” menu you’ll be able to search all generated code or specify your search by subcategory. As part of GenerateWP’s terms of service, snippets produced by their generators are public (unless you want to make them private through GenerateWP’s premium service), meaning you can download them, copy them, improve them, or share them with your own developer community.

By eliminating the need to code simple menus or toolbars on your site, or coming up with code for upgrades to features you’ve already built, you’ll have more time to focus on your WordPress site’s overall content, layout, and functionality, and you’ll be able to complete WordPress projects quicker and more efficiently.

Tips for Becoming a Better Programmer

Finding a skilled programmer is among the toughest things for businesses to do. Tech wise, getting hold of a good developer with prowess and know-how on their individual tasks and work ethics isn’t easier too.

Currently, the demand for excellent developers is skyrocketing and doesn’t seem to slow any time soon.

Both newbies and pros often get stuck in the course of their tech journey due to the rapid technology changes. These dynamics need them to be at par and remain outstanding in their various fields. With this field being vastly expanding regularly, every programmer has his/her own difficulties to face. How one does it is what makes the difference.

Have a look at the top 10 tips for becoming a better programmer and stay relevant in your field.

1. Sharpen your interpersonal skills

Good programmers exist but the best ones are keen to ensure their relational skills are upbeat. Ensuring your communication skills are on point is among the main things that make you a better programmer. Do you really feel for others? Empathy is an attitude you need to embrace and live within your industry. Being able to deliver professionally yet humorously will take your programming skills to a higher level.

This being a complicated area for most people who are not well conversant with the tech world, you need to be likable and very charismatic. This attitude makes your ignorant prospective clients feel lighter about what you do and the service they intend to get from you.

2. Love coding and make it a practice

Investing in time to improve your skills in programming is vital. Learn how to use various programming tools and most importantly focus on how these tools work. Spending more time on learning how something works will broaden your mind on several concepts that seemed a hard nut to crack.

Take time to do some technical projects and exercises and let experts in programming rate your skills and review your code. This will help you improve where necessary.

3. Skillset diversification

Better programmers will tell you that knowing more than one programming language is vital in up-scaling your career in programming. You are eligible to be chosen first among your competitors and your earnings will shoot up. Wouldn’t you want that?

4. Community contribution is a bonus

You get empowered when you contribute to the open source community. The feedback you receive is important in ensuring you move a step ahead. Be open-minded to critics and have a positive reception of them.

You can also learn a lot from the professionals in this community by addressing conferences on programming, putting up insightful blog posts and involving yourself in mentorship programs. This will stir your passion and zeal to become a better programmer.

5. Take part in mentorship programs or user groups in your local area

Local user groups have categories like the junior and senior level where its users are mentored at no cost. Most of the times they are grouped as per languages they speak. Seniors help you grow and increase your abilities by offering help where necessary.

One on one meetings are encouraged. Here, you improve your interpersonal skills and get practical in group work. Learning from immediate feedback is better. It sticks.

6. Set aside an individual project

This could seem hectic and a scare to many. Taking up a project alongside your normal programming routine will not only be fun but make your learning experience something to always long for. For instance, why not build an app?

On GitHub, you can see what your colleagues are doing, create your own idea and if you have one in place, you can find out ways to improve it. That’s how becoming a better programmer starts.

7. Why not specialize?

Programming is very dynamic and multidimensional, thus remaining an unspecialized programmer in this field renders you irrelevant. Technology keeps getting better each day. Continuously assess your abilities and specialize in a specific section of technology that will see you climb higher with every innovation and advancement in the tech world.

8. Code review should be taken with utmost seriousness

Catching bugs isn’t the only use of code reviews. Pick up a discussion and be useful to team members by sharing knowledge. Taking criticism positively will add to your skills by improving where necessary and correcting existing mistakes spotted by members of your team.

9. Gain interest in the business side

Are you doing this for profit or charity? Nonetheless, your efforts are to eventually build a business out of the products you are developing. Be concerned about how much money your software is making for the company and knowing your competitors will help you make improvements that will ensure that the business side flourishes.

Interviewing seniors in the business departments while posing tough questions will help you realize how important it is to go global. One way of doing this is to localize your website into different languages. Your client pool will definitely broaden.

10. Love books, read books

Not everything you need to know in order to become a better programmer can be found in the college curriculum. It is your duty to explore new information regularly, by reading books and write-ups by renowned developers. Also, always stay updated on the latest design trends. This way, your journey in programming becomes much easier.

 

Rilind Elezaj is an experienced a Digital Marketing Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Rilind possesses a strong entrepreneurial mindset and has devoted his career to enhancing the sphere of digital marketing. In his methodological approach, Rilind integrates web development and other digital marketing solutions to create hybrid strategies that bring the best results.

 

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How To Get Freelance Clients Passively

If you’re trying to launch a freelancing design or web development career, having an effective strategy to find and retain clients is crucial. But how do you grow a client list when you’re so focused on projects for your existing clients?

In this article, Michael Houghton, a freelance web developer based in Ireland with over 15 years of experience in freelancing, shares some amazing tips to help anyone trying to launch a freelancing career get clients passively. Enjoy!

How to gain clients passively

With a new year, comes a fresh start.  Why not make 2018 the year that you make a start on gaining clients passively.  There is no better time to start thinking about getting your message out there, than today!

Most of the time when we hear the word ‘passive’, we think of passive income.  We know that if we can create passive income, we are doing something right!

But passive income isn’t the only thing businesses should be targeting.  Freelance designers and developers typically wear many hats – for many of them, doing the actual job – the writing, the programming, the designing etc, is only half the job.  The other half is spent on bookkeeping and finding new clients – making sure the business actually runs!

It is human nature for us to focus on the actual cost, but we rarely focus on opportunity cost.  By reducing the time needed to run your freelancing business, there is opportunity to take on more clients and to increase your income.

One of the biggest improvements that I made to my freelancing business that changed the way I operated was to adopt passive marketing.

 

Passive marketing

Passive marketing is simple – let clients come to you rather than you finding them!  The truth is, the best clients, the best opportunities aren’t advertised.  Clients actively go looking for those freelancers.  When clients find you, the ball is 100% in your court.  You’re able to dictate the working terms and rates.  The whole game changes.

I had a client contact me last year who needed a Laravel developer with experience leading teams but who also had a solid knowledge of accounting and finance.  It wasn’t a position worth advertising because so few developers would have the required skill set.  In fact, I suspected I was one of only a few people they could find with the right background for the role.  It is no surprise, then, that there was no negotiation needed when I presented my offer to work with them – they were happy to pay whatever I asked for because they knew I was the right fit and would deliver the results they needed.

This is the power of passive marketing.  But how should one go about implementing such a strategy?  Before I list the specific resources I use, the first thing you need to define is what message you want to put out there.

For passive marketing to be successful, you need to think about your ideal client.  Who are they and what sort of keywords or phrases are they going to be searching for to find you?  This largely comes back to knowing what your niche is and specializing as a freelance designer or web developer to find your target market.  For example, rather than simply be a writer, what if your skill set was writing about the stock market? I am a web developer, but I would get lost in a large ocean of web developers if I were to just brand myself as a web developer.  That’s why focus on being a ‘Laravel developer for startups’.  I put myself into a very specific niche so that the right type of client will contact me.  What good is it if a client contacts me to help them with a WordPress website, if I don’t know anything about WordPress?

So your messaging is important.  And even if you are still finding your niche or learning a new technology or skill so that you can move into a niche, remember you are writing your message for a future client.  So even if you don’t yet have the right level of experience or if you’re still upskilling,   don’t be afraid to target your message around who you want to be – even if you’re not quite there yet.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you should lie on your profile, but let your message also act as guidance for the type of client you want, while keeping you in check on your own goals.

For example, let’s say you’re a developer who wants to get into artificial intelligence.  Maybe you’re extremely interested in AI but you haven’t been given the opportunity yet.  But you’re learning, you’re reading all the time and working on your own projects.  That’s the kind of detail you should list in your message.  Don’t be afraid to target your message towards the market you want to move into – even if you aren’t quite there yet!

So you now have your message.  Let’s run through some strategies that I have implemented successfully:

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a hugely powerful way to connect with clients. It is by far the easiest way to gain an audience quickly, and when done right it can be a great source of leads.  At least half of my leads (and some of my biggest clients) have found me through LinkedIn.

The best part is that it’s super easy to set up a profile and get started.  The best advice I can provide about LinkedIn is:

  • Target your message towards your ideal future client.
  • Complete every single step that LinkedIn suggests when building your profile.
  • Have a very clear headshot for your profile image – ideally with you smiling!
  • Focus on your tagline and summary, as this is what clients will read first.  Remember to be specific in your tagline, e,g “Laravel developer for startups” rather than just “Software engineer”.

 

Personal website / branded website / portfolio

Forbes recently published an article which shows that freelancers with a website earn 65% more income than freelancers that don’t.

Yet so many of the freelancers I talk to don’t have their own website. Whether it is branded as a company or agency, or is simply your-name.com, the main priority is to get your message out there.

Of course, the real power of having your own website comes from the content that you write and the way you target your keywords.  I recently ran an experiment on my own website michaelhoughton.com.  I wanted to target keywords that were as niche as possible.  One easy way to do this, is to simply target location-based keywords.  In my case, I targeted the phrase “Laravel developer in Limerick, Ireland” and I set this as my main meta title on the home page.

Within three days, my Google ranking for “Laravel developer in Limerick” jumped to third.  My ranking for “Laravel developer in Ireland” jumped to seventh. I had changed nothing else, but by targeting a very specific niche, I was able to target my ideal client.

 

Blogging

Blogging is hard.  I enjoy writing, but I still struggle to find the time to blog.  I often feel as a freelancer there is this constant feeling that we should be blogging.  In my experience however, blogging will give you that extra 20% of client leads but it won’t make or break your success.

Get your message and initial content right first for your website – this is the priority.  From there, focus on writing blog articles that will do the following:

  • Target your ideal client.  Don’t just write about anything – target content that will show that you know your niche or will attract a client to you.
  • Focus on search engine optimisation – your article should be designed to improve your Google ranking on certain keywords.  Ensure your blog articles are consistent with the overall message of your website.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity.  You may hear messages like “you should be blogging every day” – the truth is, it is very difficult to maintain quality content when writing every day.  Aim to write when you feel inspired and take the time you need to get your article right.

 

Open source contributions

Github is a great way for clients to find you and writing open source contributions is a great way for clients to see your work in action.

The downside of open source contributions is that it can be time consuming.  Like blogging, it requires constant work, unlike LinkedIn and a website, which if done well the first time, will bring in leads for a long time.

My advice on open source work is to do it primarily because you enjoy it.  Open source is a lot of fun and is a great way to boost your profile, but your primary motive should be because you enjoy a particular project or want to make a difference.  Your motivation to write open source code to boost your profile may quickly falter, but if you are truly passionate about a project you will see it through.

Other than that – keep your open source contributions consistent with your niche.  For example, if you are a PHP developer, your contributions should be based around PHP ideally, so that your potential clients can see your PHP code before they work with you.

 

What about now?

All of these suggestions are designed to help you gain future clients, but what if you need clients right now?  What steps can you take today to gain clients quickly?

Websites such as UpWork and Freelancer.com are marketplaces that require you to submit proposals to gain work.  This is far from passive – in fact, the win rate through freelancer marketplaces can be very low.

Thankfully, there are a couple of freelancer marketplaces that actively do the searching for you.

 

Toptal

Toptal is likely the biggest freelancer network in the world, with more than 3,000 developers, designers and financial experts and a team that is growing fast.  I was fortunate enough to be a Toptal developer for three years, and while getting into Toptal is difficult, once you are in, recruiters will work hard to match you to the right client.

You can be based pretty much anywhere to be part of the Toptal network and the work is fully remote.  Feel free to read my article on the Toptal interview process for more information.

 

X Team

X Team is a company which targets the world’s top developers, much like Toptal.  While I haven’t worked with X Team specifically, the feedback I have received from other developers has been positive.

 

Developer Fair

Developer Fair is an Irish-based freelancer marketplace.  It’s still in the startup stage, but I have worked on a couple of projects for them and it was an enjoyable experience.  They target developers and designers.

 

Conclusion

If you are willing to invest your time now, you can set yourself up to have an extremely profitable freelance business in the long run.  There is no doubt that the most successful freelancers have implemented this strategy.

There is a quote by Mark I. McCallum which goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.  As freelancers, we all know that we should be working on our profile and message to future clients, yet we continually put it off. Let today be the time to start getting your message out to your ideal client.