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Common Mistakes Made by Beginner Developers

Written By Preston Pierce on Mar 25, 2015 11:00:00 AM

developer-mistakes-01

Usually when you tell a developer they made a mistake or two here and there, they'll throw a paperweight at you and tell you their coding is perfect. The truth is that sometimes developers get understandably frustrated after hours and hours of using a complex coding or scripting language. This frustration in itself can become a hindrance to their work.

There are plenty of other considerations to take into account when it comes to a developer's work performance. Whether its C#, PHP, DotNet, or any other language, there are mistakes that are common across the board and to each individual language. In this post, we'll explore common mistakes made by beginner developers in the early stages of a web development career.

 

Lacking Self-Confidence

A new developer is usually a bit nervous about writing perfect codes. However, thinking that you are not good enough is a mistake that can become a serious issue later on. The coding languages are complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that programming is mostly a game of logic(s).

So, never put a stop to your coding. It’s those continuous hours of hard work and non-stop code-writing that will pay off and make the end result a success. Fear and self-doubt will only stop you from going further into your career.

“Forgetting” to Back Up

Yikes! This one can be a real bummer. Common to beginners, forgetting to back up your work is a mistake experts have learned the hard way not to make (except in rare cases). Use an automatic backup tool if you have to, but don’t “forget” to save or backup your hours and hours of hard work. Your client certainly won’t understand the excuse, because they will only care about the results.

Even if your computer shuts down, gets stolen, catches fire, or any another major disaster happens, all your work should still be safe if you have backed up frequently. You can use Dropbox or Github for safer, backed-up versions of your code.

Improper Code Formatting

Inappropriate indentation, blank spaces, and useless new lines are obvious giveaways of a beginner-level developer. This haphazard way of formatting is a mistake because the code does not follow a logical structure. While JavaScript will still run the code regardless of the structure, inappropriate formatting can lead to several other mistakes, such as declaring a function in the wrong scope. And apart from the obvious functionality implications, it is simply unprofessional.

Going All Out With The Commenting

It’s a good practice to include comments that define the variable, functions, and class names to communicate the meaning to other developers or yourself in the future. However, some new designers often make the mistake of explaining code rather than documenting it.

The purpose of comments is solely to document in the case that you need to go back and remember what you did. Only a developer will read it, so what’s the point in explaining? Your teacher may have asked you to do this while you were learning web development, but that was for your own learning. Plus, long or excessive comments only take up a lot of bytes, which is clearly not good for your site. Keep comments for documentation purposes only.

Ignoring Technical SEO

Many new developers think SEO is something best left to the marketers or content developers. However, SEO is something that should be embraced from the start for it to be effective. By “the start” I mean the moment you start developing the website.

SEO is not just about backlinks or content. It has a technical side as well that requires optimization and that can be executed by a developer. Keep your coding W3C verified, try to call separate files of CSS or Js, use a sitemap.xml, and make sure you’ve included meta viewport and other necessary meta tags. Learn best practices of technical SEO.

Ignoring Web Standards

Web standards are there to unify code and help you create device-independent apps. Web standards serve to help you, not make your life more difficult. A new developer might make the mistake of using inappropriate DOCTYPES (this includes transitional DOCTYPES), using HTML that doesn’t apply anymore (like center elements), not validating code, or ignoring the results. Pay attention to web standards and work around them to avoid mistakes and create a clean and error-free code.

Not Optimizing Load Time

Your internet works great, it’s super-speedy, and you’ve tested it all out. Good for you! However, think about what will happen when a user begins to view the website and gets stuck because of uncompressed or high-resolution images or simply due to slow internet connection. People don’t like to wait and expect a website to load within 2 to 10 seconds.

Learn to optimize bandwidth usage to keep a site visitor's attention and avoid setbacks. This can be achieved through minification of Javascript and CSS, optimizing image size and resolution, server side HTTP compressions and optimizing your website for mobile users as well.

Test on Major Browsers

Testing your program out in just one or two of your favorite browsers throughout the development process is another one of the common mistakes developers make in the beginning of the. To avoid surprises, test your program out in at least all the major browsers, whether it's Chrome, Firefox, or IE7 (even if you're not the biggest fan). Do not leave testing to the last minute.

You’ll find bugs in almost any browser, so testing them all out is a requirement! Making excuses such as “The browser has problems! Let me show you how it works fine on this one” is not something a professional would do or that a client will tolerate. Last minute, quick-fixes using browser sniffing and hacks is not a good option either.

Confidence Level Over 9000!

I chose this as my last, most common mistake because many developers do exactly the opposite of the first mistake mentioned in this article. And that is feeling like they are on top of the world with their coding because a project or two went well.

 

Remember that a human can never really be “perfect” as there is always a margin of error. We are always learning because there is simply too much to learn in the world, and the same goes for web development. A developer “develops” and continually evolves his coding with the passage of time. So, expert or not, learn from your mistakes. 

 

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Preston Pierce

Preston Pierce is a marketing professional and a regular blogger at Logo Ping. His focus is primarily on marketing, graphics and branding.

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