Avoid common mistakes as a web developer

Mistakes you must avoid as a full-stack web developer

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In this article, I will be talking about the mistakes that most people make in the process of developing web applications by handling both back-end and front-end at once and being a "full-stack" developer. Following the points mentioned in this article will help you be productive in your web development journey.

Most people don’t plan how to manage both front-end and back-end programming simultaneously and ultimately end up wasting a lot of time doing unwanted repetitive tasks.

The intellect is not about being able to know both sides of the technology, but it is about the way you manage your development task. It is about having a balanced and systematic approach for coordinating the frontend and backend tasks and getting rid of redundant and stressful tasks.

Design First 💡

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. -Abraham Lincoln

No matter how simple or complex your application is, single or multiple pages, always design the UI and interactions, and the high-level design of your application. This applies only when you are also handling front-end tasks. If you don’t prepare a design before development, you will find yourself confused and stuck in the colours or pixels of each UI component continuously until you feel it is good, and the fact is you would not be satisfied with your UI for a very long time. This will drastically reduce your speed of programming and also stress your mind doing redundant activities.

Use tools such as Adobe XD, Figma or Sketch for designing the UI. Prototype your design to understand the interactions between various UI components.

Ask ask ask!

Developing an application for a client? Have a thorough session with them, discuss their interests, plans, any design pattern that must be followed, existing branding campaigns and brand resources they already have, like logo or colour palette.

Try to understand the end user’s needs, and design a persona for the users.

Don't start front-end programming until the design is approved by your client!

Schedule your development plan accordingly and stick to it and also have constant communication with your client at some planned milestones.

Follow the incremental approach

Suppose you want to build a library management application on the web, then divide the main application into several sub-applications. Implement those sub-applications first, develop their UI, and backend implementation, and test it completely before moving it to the next sub-application.

Let's say login and signup is the first sub-application. First make a minimal front-end, without any CSS stylings, with all necessary HTML components like forms or input tags that are required for user inputs.

Now implement middleware or back-end functionalities and test the application for inputs and responses from databases.

Finally, style your UI components completely using simply CSS or some front-end framework.

Now repeat this task for each sub-application in a bottom-up manner(also take care of integrations of these sub-tasks) until you build a complete application.

Utilise the right tools 🔧

If you are building an API, use tools like Postman for checking the HTTP request/response and methods so that you can focus on validating your API first instead of other tasks.

If you are developing front end part first, then you can use some dummy texts like ‘lorem ipsum' for filling up dummy data in place of actual data, which will be later provided by the database when you start with the back-end. (For Sublime Text, typing lorem+TAB will automatically fill up dummy data).

If you have started web development and want to get some useful tips, tools and resources, do check this article - Web Development Tips and Resources. This article also lists some tools and software which are very useful and productive.

Got bored or stuck for a long? Switch! 💫

There may be times when you are working on the front end and feeling bored or stuck somewhere for too long. In such cases, you can switch to the backend and start developing the backend part of the application. This will make sure you are not blocked or your performance is not getting affected due to boredom working on one particular tech stack. After completing the backend part, you can resume your front-end work again. You will find yourself more productive this way and will be able to complete the project faster.

Focus on code maintainability and formatting

This is a no-brainer for any developer. The code needs to be maintainable and in the proper format as per the language standards. This may not seem important initially when the application is small but when the application scales and grows in size, the features in the applications also increase and the lines of code increase at a very rapid scale.

If the code is not maintained over time, it might lead to more confusion and can be disastrous for your development journey. If the project is growing rapidly, make sure you have blocked dedicated time just for refactoring code and removing the lines of code which are not being used anymore. Also, add proper comments and test cases wherever required. This will surely help you in long run, if at all not in the beginning.

Follow proper web standards and focus on optimisations 🌟

Check if the basic things like input validation, authentication, authorization, and error handling are in place.

Make sure that the website you are building is compatible with different browsers which are common nowadays, like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.

The website should also be developed with responsive design in mind so that it works and provides a consistent experience on different device sizes.

The application should be made in a way that will help in building the credibility of the website and also have good rankings in search engines. Try implementing various SEO techniques on the websites, for example: providing a readable slug for various pages, and having a valid tag for different content types like titles, headings, etc.

Optimize images which are used in websites. If the images are large enough, this can cause slowness in the website and can directly affect its rankings and usability. Use compressed images wherever possible, use SVG or WebP instead of png or jpeg, etc.

Conclusion

Managing all the things end-to-end can be overwhelming and also frustrating if it is not managed in the right manner. Hence avoiding some most common mistakes while developing web applications is a must and this article covers the steps you can follow to be better at developing web applications.

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