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Developers, Do You Use Google Too Much?

Published:
July 20, 2021
Updated:
September 7, 2021

One of the most common concerns that we hear from developers is over their excessive use of Google. Many developers feel as though they should be Googling less as they gain experience and build more projects over the years. They often worry that constantly looking stuff up makes it look as though they're not advancing in their career and that employers won't want to hire them for more senior roles. The good news is that tech's complexity and constantly evolving nature makes Googling and looking things up, much more commonplace than you'd think! Here's a few of reasons why Googling is so important!

Tech is Complex

Tech is a very complex space to be in. Learning just the basics of some technologies can take hundreds of hours and that's assuming the industry is standing still. Tech never stands still, it's always advancing and changing day after day. Just take a look at web development, when we started out ~6 years ago, jQuery was all the rage. It seemed like every time I looked anything up for JavaScript, all I could find were jQuery solutions, sometimes even when I specified that I wanted vanilla JS. Fast forward to today and jQuery is still very popular, but JavaScript itself has been upgraded with so many new features that many people are opting for vanilla JavaScript, or other newer solutions for their website and web app making needs. In just a few short years, the landscape of web development has shifted so much, and there's no real signs of it slowing down. New frameworks, plugins, and libraries come out pretty often and even popular frameworks by today's standards like VueJS are only ~7 years old. Due to all this, Googling and researching isn't just something that you should be doing, but it's actually a skill that you can (and should) get better at.

Many Moving Parts

Modern websites, and most tech in general, have a lot of moving parts. Most websites that people will ask you to build will involve more than just some HTML, CSS, and JS. Websites today are filled with frameworks that handle the frontend/UI side of things, another set of frameworks (and other tools) to handle the backend, and futhermore often rely on third-party services to get the job done. Even more contained systems like Webflow will be affected by things outside their control. For example, a couple of years ago, a client that I had built a Webflow site for was reporting issues embedding things into a richtext field. I thought maybe there was some sort of update that had been done and the procedure had changed, but upon examination and research it was found out that Webflow uses the third-party tool Embedly for their embedding capability, and they had an outage that they were working on. Needless to day, the situation was resolved and everything returned to normal, but the point I'm making here is that tech has a lot of moving parts, even just simple functions can fail with no warning, and more often these days these issues can be completely outside your control. This further solidifies the need for good Googling skills as there is no way you'd be aware of outages, or even know if a third-party was involved, without looking it up and finding out what is going on.

Googling Isn't Easy!

Sometimes we hear that people think looking everything up is the easy way out, or makes it so that anyone could do their job. Almost all of the time, this is not the case. When you're Googling tech-related issues and solutions, you're coming from a background that has expertise and experience with whatever you're Googling. This gives you an edge when reading all the different solutions out there, making it easy for you to filter out the resources that don't work for you. It's important to realize that most people, especially if they're not in tech, will have no idea how to read even basic solutions. Most people don't know what VueJS is, or what an img tag does, or how to make a link open a new tab. All of this base knowledge is crucial to reading your Google results and it's what separates a how a tech pro looks things up. Reading solutions, helpful to your current situation or not, will also spark other ideas to try, something that generally only tech professionals will experience. You're reading your Google results through the lenses of a tech professional, those lenses are what sets you apart from someone that doesn't work in the space, not just anyone can do your job.

Googling is a serious skill that you should be proud of, despite any of the negative things you may hear about it. There's no way you're going to be able to learn all the things you need to, while keeping up with all the updates that happen at random, at the same time as knowing what's going on in any third-party service you rely on. Remember that your technical expertise is not rated by how much you know right now in the moment, but how you solve problems. Your boss isn't going to ask you "how many Google searches did you do to fix that navbar?" Instead, your boss is just going to be happy that you fixed the navbar! Reading and sorting through all those Google results isn't easy either, and requires alot of experience to figure out what resources are good and which don't apply to your current situation. Develop your Googling skills, Google as much as you need to, and don't let it hold you back!

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