Running a web development agency isn't easy from both the technical and customer service side of things. Luckily, Matt and Mike have been running their web development agency for 7+ years, making plenty of mistakes, and claiming even more successes over the years. In this episode, they lay out the top 5 tips insider tips that have helped them maintain a successful business for all these years including: presenting technical solutions to non-technical customers, avoiding scope creep, pushing back on customer ideas that won't work, and more.
Almost everyone has a unique story on how they joined the field in which they eventually made a career, but many aren't as unique as Francesco Ciulla's. His development journey has lead him to work with the European Space Agency as a full-stack developer, developer relations at Daily.dev, become a Docker Captain, and most recently create a massive YouTube following in just a few short weeks. This week Matt and Mike had the pleasure of sitting down and discussing Francesco's unique developer journey at length discussing his previous jobs, education, passion for teaching and much more!
Web development, often hailed for its versatility, empowers us to create websites, progressive web apps (PWAs), mobile applications, and robust web-based tools. However, beneath the surface lies a complex landscape far from utopian. To make web development sustainable without the need for networking engineers, IT managers, and server admins - tools that go beyond the vanilla platform (HTML, CSS, JS) have become staples of the industry (NodeJS, Svelte/Kit, Angular, etc.). These tools provide web developers with the ability to perform complex and time-consuming tasks with relative ease and without having to touch the underlying layers of technology. The side effect is that many web developers are left learning an absolute ton of technology at a high-level, with very little expertise in one area versus another. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed the current mess that web development finds itself in as they converse about the sheer amount of material to learn, abstraction layers, and more.
Learn how to land a web development job with this week's guest, James Quick. James is a content creator that focuses on teaching web developers through his YouTube channel and podcast. Our discussion this week focused on landing and keeping a web developer role with our conversation focusing on what you should do before landing the job, immediately after getting into your role, and how to keep your career going into the future. First off, our conversation on what to do before getting a developer job focused on studying, coding practice, and standing out as an applicant. Second, we discussed what to do right after landing the role conversing about whether you should keep learning on/off work hours and whether you should make an effort to learn job-related tech or branch out. Lastly, we discussed what to do once you've had a developer job for a while, touching on whether you should bother having a side hustle, how much learning you should do, and if you should update your portfolio or not. At the end of the interview, we asked James to expand and explain Astro, a web framework for content-driven sites.
Back in the days of Internet Explorer web developers struggled with keeping their websites compatible across various versions. This problem exemplified as more modern browsers like Firefox and Chrome were added to the mix, forcing many web devs to create websites that could utilize modern features and fall back onto old ones for users still on IE. Today, these problems are largely solved, but not entirely. There is still some feature disparity between Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox...and even now some developers need to continue to support Internet Explorer. It's also widely known that as newer versions of these browsers seem to squash more of these differences, users won't always have the most up-to-date version of the browser due to update neglect, or system compatibility. In this episode, Matt and Mike focus on CSS feature disparity between browsers and how to handle site development when your user base doesn't all have the latest features that you're utilizing. When is it safe to use a new CSS feature on a production website?
React is a powerful tool that empowers web developers to create reactive websites and web apps. Unfortunately, sometimes projects built with React can struggle to reach their maximum performance potential. To solve this, Million 3 (million.js) steps in to help make your React project up to 70% faster. Million boasts a simple setup using an easy-to-use installer so that you don't need to spend hours installing and troubleshooting. In this interview episode, Matt and Mike discussed Million.js with Aiden and Tobiloba, exploring when Million should be used, when it should not be used, and what it helps with the most. With the release of Million 3 just this week, the guys learned about some cool new features that should help Million be even more useful than it already is.
When a junior developer is assigned to your team, it's easy to give them the "new guy" treatment. You might give them jobs you don't like to do or play some sort of harmless prank on them, but take it a step further and you're in danger of becoming a toxic workplace. Handing over jobs that are simply too difficult for a junior developer and ridiculing them when they inevitably fail is one large example of how a team joke can take a dark turn, forming a habit of treating junior developers poorly in the hopes that they'll "rise to the challenge." In reality, most teams would benefit from having another experienced developer, so why not help the newbie grow into someone you can trust? In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed how to challenge and mentor a junior developer by giving them achievable challenges, avoiding a "trial by fire" that they will inevitably fail.
Subscription fees are any household budget's worst nightmare, but they're not limited to just your favorite TV subscriptions. Web developers are also constantly bombarded by subscription fees for everything from development tools, analytics software, and WordPress plugins. Perpetual licenses (one-time fees) are almost a thing of the past and so everything you reach for at the paid tier ends up becoming a recurring cost that you'll need to make the most of to maximize value. Not only can these costs very quickly spiral out of control, but they're also a hard sell when dealing with a client. Every WordPress developer has surely come across a client that expects a feature-add for free, when the plugin to do so is behind a monthly subscription. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed the hidden costs of web development reviewing the dreaded ballooning monthly bill made up of premium WordPress plugins, SEO software, development tools, and more.
Three web development topics grace this episode's contents as Matt and Mike discussed the seemingly never ending tech layoffs that keep making headlines. The guys also discussed HTMX, a lightweight UI library that has taken off in popularity recently to the pleasure of some and dismay of others - is HTMX the "Tailwind CSS" of backend technology? Finally the guys discussed how to handle your family and friends approaching you with their ideas and wanting you to work on them. We've all been there, you're at a family gathering, and someone wants to work with you on their new idea that's sure to "take the world by storm" - or in a twist, sometimes they just want you to be their mentor...what do you do if you just don't have the time?
This week we revive an old episode format where Matt writes the show notes and interviews Mike without him knowing any of the questions or topics before recording. In this "blind episode" Matt and Mike explore building out your web developer portfolio versus a personal website that covers both your personal and professional life. The guys also discussed choosing your developer career path if you were starting out in 2024, what kind of project they would create if money were no object, and philosophically "look back" at their careers once they've come to a close.
It's a new year, maybe it's time for some new gear? If you're a web developer just getting started this year, or looking to maximize your productivity with the latest gadgets, this week's episode has got you covered. We broke up our gear selections into three budgets including minimum, moderate, and max. Matt and Mike discussed gear ranging from budget refurbished laptops that can help you get started on your web development journey, to fancy sets that can accommodate not only web development but gaming and content creation as well. Our gear guide is sure to help anyone out there wondering what they need to get started coding up websites in 2024.
Learn web development for free with learning resources from all over the web including courses, YouTube channels, and written guides.
The holidays are in full swing with many people spending their newfound free time trying their hand at learning web development for the first time. Some are even planning to learn coding as their new year's resolution so they can try their hand at a new career. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed a collection of free learning resources so that you can supercharge your learning without having to commit a small fortune to getting started.
AI tools have taken off over the past year touching almost every aspect of the internet, and web development is no exception. Chatbots like ChatGPT and Copilot (Bing Chat) can be used to help write code, troubleshoot, and learn web development in a way that is much more interactive than a traditional Google search. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed how they use these AI tools in both their learnings and production work. The duo covered how to approach these new AI chatbots as they're something that is well beyond the commonplace assistants that we have today like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri. Learn how to add AI to your web development toolkit and get work done faster.
There are a lot of courses and guides out there to help you start learning web development. Despite this abundance, it's unfortunately very easy to fall into a common learning pitfall, such as following a tutorial that's out-of-date, or taking a course that glosses over important parts of the process. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed commonly learning pitfalls and how to avoid them. They also discussed how to go beyond courses to ensure you're learning as much as you can before landing a job.
Web developers have a lot of tools to build websites with, but this vast selection opens the door for needless complexities. Needless complexities weigh projects down and can make troubleshooting problems a nightmare. Unforeseen issues arising from tangled webs of WordPress plugins, third-party services updating their endpoints unexpectedly, and installed-yet-forgotten features have taken down more websites than we can count. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed how and why you should avoid needless complexities in your projects and why some complexities are necessary evils.
AI has been taking the tech world by storm for the past year or so as new chatbots and tools are created seemingly every day. These tools can help revolutionize the every day workflow for a web developer and Mike has been embracing these changes with open arms. In this episode Matt and Mike discussed this "AI revolution" and how Mike uses these new tools to compliment and enhance his every day tasks on the job. The guys also discussed the massive shake up that OpenAI had with their CEO Sam Altman being fired then potentially landing a position at Microsoft. Please note this OpenAI news is developing quickly so our comments may be out of date by the time this episode is published- original recording date can be found in the show notes for context.
Are web developers required to do too much? Websites and web apps are getting more complex as some startups rely on web developers to deliver critical company infrastructure, marketing sites, and ecommerce stores. The problem with all these responsibilities is that the knowledge base for web developers has grown exponentially over the past decade, making it a struggle to keep up for existing developers and increasingly difficult for aspiring devs to break into the field. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed Matt's recent critique of the learning journey that web developers need to embark on to get job ready due to the vast amount of skills that are needed in the field.
When you deploy a website how long do you think it'll last before it needs some maintenance, or a design refresh? Will it keep running as long as the hosting bill is paid? This week, Matt and Mike discussed the longevity of a website and whether or not its realistic to assume that they'll run forever - eternally, if you will. Even though they're pieces of software, websites are susceptible to problems that require maintenance, and some websites need regular preventative maintenance to keep things running smoothly. Not to mention the need, or rather want, for design refreshes in order to keep up with the modern standard and competing websites. When clients ask for a website, but don't think they'll need to maintain it after deployment, are they running themselves into a risky situation? How do we keep website maintenance budget friendly?
Out of all the developer productivity tips, enhancing your focus is probably the most important because it can increase your work output, helps keeps you motivated, and can improve your quality of code. In this episode Matt and Mike discussed why focus and concentration is so important to developers and what you can do to help improve it through practice and habit forming.
Learning web development is difficult, even if you're already familiar with it and just looking to update your skills. In this episode, Matt and Mike discuss Matt's continued learning journey as he works towards understanding modern full-stack development through Svelte and SvelteKit. This time, Matt has taken a step back from his original project, a passive income tracker, and instead decided to change his approach. Instead of learning full-stack development, struggling through creating and deploying a web app, instead he's decided to break it up into three smaller projects. The first of which will be a modified to-do/grocery list app that will just be using Svelte. Followed by another project focused on backend technologies with SvelteKit. Finally, he'll return to his passive income tracker idea with all he's learned for the grand finale. With this new approach, Matt hopes that he'll retain more information and have a better understand of all the topics he covers, rather than struggling through each and every step of the passive income tracker.
In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed a collection of web development topics including git in school, what makes a good code review, and the return of PHP. Git for version control is a major part of most web developers' toolkits although there seems to be a lack of git training in schools, the place where learning git basics could help future graduates' resumes look a bit more favorable. Code reviews are commonplace in web development teams, but they're not all cut from the same cloth - what makes a code review good? PHP has been called dead by many web developers (even though WordPress uses PHP and is a major contributor to content on the web), but lately it seems like people are talking about it...is PHP back?
You can't get a job without experience and you can't get experience without a job - a classic problem for many beginners across several industries. This problem also plagues web developers as junior devs are left handing out hundreds of applications sometimes failing to get an interview let alone a job. For some, the opportunity to work for free will come up as a low barrier to entry to get some experience, but this move is controversial. Not only are you missing out on money, but you're also providing value to someone else's business for free. Working for free with nothing but experience is nothing new though, as unpaid internships are apart of some college and university programs across many different degrees. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed whether a junior developer should work for free to get work experience, or if they should wait until a paid opportunity arrives.
When you take your first job as a junior developer you may be nervous about what type of tasks you'll be assigned and the expected quality level of your deliverables. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed some of the types of tasks that you may be assigned as a junior developer. They walk through how and what a manager may ask you to do, and how much detail you're likely to receive before getting started. These tasks range from simple tests of your UI layout skills, through your ability to pull in information from an API and display it appropriately on the site. Every workplace is different and so Matt and Mike also covered some of the common struggles that junior developers may face in their new role including legacy codebases, lack of mentorship, and a toxic work environment.
Documentation helps web developers navigate CSS frameworks, WordPress plugins, and helpful npm packages. Without it, we're left doing trial-and-error for hours, or left to community support from potentially dated forums. When documentation is bad, it can cost the documentation owner customers and trust from the community, but when it's good, it can save developers time and drive trust in the product. In this episode, Matt and Mike discussed the price of bad documentation and what makes documentation good from the perspective of a web developer.