Developers: 20 Ways to Challenge Yourself Come 2016

If you want to improve professionally in your career, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. The beginning of the New Year is an excellent time for setting new goals you want to accomplish in the near future. According to Forbes, there are only 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year resolutions.

You can be part of that 8% with the right set of resolutions, and if you are a front-end developer, this post is a great source for finding cool ideas for resolutions for the coming new year.

1. Attend a Conference

There are many great web development conferences around the globe that are worth attending. Conferences are not just about learning new things (which is an integral part but not the only one), you can meet new people from the industry, and expand your professional network by participating in them.

IMAGE: An Event Apart

2. Join a Code Contest

CodeVember, the month-long coding challenge of Codepen has been great fun for both the participants as well as wider audiences who checked out the amazing work of many talented developers. Joining a code contest or competition is an excellent idea not just to practice and test your knowledge, but also to take a peek at what your peers are up to as well as to get some new tips.

3. Learn a New Framework

Whether it’s a complex front-end framework such as Bootstrap or Foundation, or a JavaScript MVC framework such as AngularJS, BackboneJS, or Ember.JS, these days frameworks are everywhere on the web. In most cases you can achieve more things with them than without them, so it’s definitely worth to pick one, and embark on familiarizing yourself with it in the New Year.

4. Speed Up Your HTML and CSS Workflow

You can aim to speed up your HTML and CSS workflow, and free up valuable time this way. The stars of web dev tutorials are still the CSS preprocessors, namely LESS and SASS, but there are also great template engines such as HAML and Jade for preprocessing HTML, not to mention Emmet, a great HTML and CSS workflow improvement tool which provides you with a handy abbreviation syntax and cool optimization techniques.

5. Participate in a Hackathon

Hackathons, or codefests are events where programmers gather and collaborate on some kind of development project. Hackathons are somewhat similar to festivals, a lot of fun, you can easily find like-minded friends, and get a great learning opportunity. If you are lucky you can even land a cool new job there.

IMAGE: TechCrunch

6. Practice Writing Semantic Code

Do you pay attention to semantics when you write HTML? If not, the coming New Year is a great time to begin to practice it. This way you can produce better code quality by making it more accessible, which means search engines and clients will love you.

7. Add Accessibility to Your Code

Semantics and accessibility are both increasingly important in modern front-end development. If you add accessibility features to your code, you empower millions of people with different kinds of disabilities and sensory impairments to use your site or app without too much hassle.

IMAGE: All Things Ergo

8. Learn a New CSS Tool

The CSS ecosystem has been improving in an amazing speed. There are so many new tools out there that it’s hard to keep up. The latest cool guy is undoubtedly PostCSS, but there are also great optimizers, editors, and many other tools that are definitely worth to learn and start to use.

IMAGE: CSSLint

9. Join Online Groups

If you want to expand your professional network in the New Year, joining online groups can also be a brilliant idea. There are great groups on Linkedin, and Slack also has communities in front-end development like this, where you can ask your questions, and get new ideas and tips. If you can’t find a community that you like, you can even create your own group.

10. Participate in Open-Source

Participating in Open Source projects is not simply a noble deed, but can also tremendously help you build your online presence, and show your skills off to potential clients and employers. Many companies are looking for developers who are active in Open Source communities, as it also improves soft skills such as collaboration and communication that the tech industry desperately seeks.

11. Improve Your Time Management Practice

Time is money, and successful time management is an essential part of a productive professional life. Managing time is especially challenging for web developers, as we use internet as a working tool, and it’s much easier to end up with browsing distracting content instead of working. There are many great tools that can help you improve your time management practice in the future.

12. Go to a Professional Meetup

Since online collaboration became widespread, many people have preferred to build their network on the web. Having local, real-life professional relationships is still important though, as face to face human contact can give you different kinds of information and improve a separate skillset. There are UX- and frontend-related meetups in every bigger city, so why not attend one of them in the coming year?

13. Learn the New ECMAScript

ECMAScript is a scripting language specification that is used by client-side scripting lanugages such as JavaScript. Its latest version, ECMAScript 6 has been released this year, and it introduces a remarkable new syntax for writing complex client-side apps. If you want to be a better JS coder in the new year, it’s definitely worth to give the new syntax a try.

14. Start a Blog

Blogging is fun, by covering the latest topics you can learn a lot of new things, connect people and potential clients, and if you are good at it, you can even make a little money with it. If you don’t have enough time to manage your own blog, it can also be a good idea to share your expertise on a blog-publishing platform such as Medium.com.

15. Write Cleaner Code

The ability of writing clean code is its own form of art and an important skillset. It’s not a coincidence that the popular code sharing platform, Codepen checks your code against JSHint. It can be a great resolution to build a quality checking process into your workflow in the coming year. There are many cool quality checkers and validators for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, semantics, accessibility, and structured data.

16. Enrol an Online Course

Enrolling an online course is an excellent way to update your knowledge, which is crucial in the rapidly changing web development industry. Online courses enable you to choose when you want to learn, how fast you want to move on, and how much time you can spend on it.

17. Learn Typing Fluently

Typing fluently can incredibly speed up your workflow, and allow you to save time for other important things. You can say you type fluently if you use all of your fingers while typing without looking at the keyboard. There are great apps on the net that can help you learn this invaluable skill.

18. Get Rid of a Personal Flaw

Personal flaws don’t only have a negative impact on your private life, but they can be harmful for your professional development, too. Shortcomings such as procrastination, poor organizational skills, or low self-confidence can hold you back in your career, so why not pick the most annoying one, and try to get rid of it in the New Year?

19. Go on a Tech-Free Vacation

All of us need to spend some time disconnected from our devices to relax and recharge our batteries. People in the tech industry constantly tied to computers and other gadgets probably need this break more than others. Going on a tech-free vacation has many perks such as reducing stress, improving creativity, and upholding a healthy work-life balance.

20. Stick to Your Resolutions

It’s always nice to create New Year resolutions, but sticking to them is just as important if you want to accomplish your goals. You can facilitate this by keeping track of your progress in your calendar or in a resolution app. This way you will also be able to evaluate your success rate at the end of the year.