My Web Development Journey So Far

my web development journey so far

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As a young man I was always interested in computers. We never really had a proper computer in the family home growing up. The nearest I got to one before the age of 14/15 was a Commodore 64. I had a non-technical family so it was up to me to figure out how to use the C64. Although I was only a 6/7 year old lad at the time I can remember using run commands to get the games going, but also playing around with printing my name out etc. I guess this was the start of my web development journey.

Jump forward a few years and I get a hand me down HP computer from my Uncle running Windows 95 Windows 3.1 (cheers Wiki for allowing me to jog my memory). It wasn’t a machine I knew how to use, let alone write code on. I remember deleting some key system files whilst trying to make enough space to install The Sims, and having to call my cousin to restore the operating system so I could get it operational again.

A False Start

At the age of 18, I complete some A-Levels and decided to do a media and communication degree at The University of Central Lancashire. This had been an arbitrary decision. I had no real idea of what I wanted to do or be. I just thought that going to University was the thing to do as my friends were all doing it. This turned out to be a wrong move for me. while I enjoyed the freedom and the parties the lack of any clear direction meant that my time at Uni was doomed to failure, and after a year or so I returned home back to Coventry.

More flirtations with higher education would come and pass before I focussed on progressing my career in retail. I quickly became a food store manager, and 10 years came and went and I finally figured out what I wanted to do. Write code.

Life happened and over those 10 years I’d acquired a mortgage and a couple of children. It isn’t easy to change careers at any time, let alone with the hundredweight adulting responsibilities I’d collected.

The Web Development Journey Truly Begins

I dabbled in some online tutorials, relearning some of the HTML and CSS skills I’d picked up in-between snakebite hangovers at university.

Codecademy and W3Schools were my resources for learning bits and pieces in those formative study periods. I realised I needed to be able to commit more time to the process of learning web development.

So at age 30 with the support of my Wife I left the responsibilty of managing a shop behind and enrolled on a 6 year part-time Computing and IT Degree course with The Open University.

I was working 4 nights a week, studying and looking after my young children during weekdays so my Wife could go to work. It was tough mentally and physically but I had reached an age where I loved the learning part.

I supplemented the study by listening to the Code Newbie podcast, and listening to inspiring stories of people that had successfully transitioned into careers in technology.

Knowing others had been successful in their web development journeys was a huge motivation for me. Especially as a lot of people on the Code Newbie podcast came from backgrounds similar to mine. Working class people. Code is not only for computer science grads from the top universities.

Indeed I know great developers with no degrees.

Building Stuff Is Good For You

Tutorial hell is real. After a year or so of study I needed to get some more experience in building web development projects. I took the opportunity to build a web app for my son’s football club to expand on my skills.

The research involved in putting together this app taught me so much and I’d encourage anyone to think of some projects that they can build. Tutorials are great, but in your web development jobs you will hit brick walls that you need to find a way to get past.

It will put you in a much better place once you know that you can google/stack overflow/github your way through those brick walls.

First Break In Tech

After 3 years of study, I landed a job at Countrywide Tax and Trust Corporation Ltd as a software administrator. This job included learning how to use a proprietary coding system built with C# by the lead developer and use HTML, XML and CSS to create legal documents. I worked in an amazing team, and will be forever grateful for the opportunity. I wanted to work in a more web development oriented role however so after a year and half started to look for other opportunities.

Web Developer Achievement Unlocked!

Soon after, I landed a job as a web developer for a company called Sixty Stores Ltd. My first task was to redesign the company website, a daunting first task but hugely enjoyable and for me it was an introduction to WordPress custom theme development. I would also work on several Magento 2 projects, including, and My role on these tasks was to create the custom themes for the sites using the Magento 2 framework and also extend some of the functionality. It definitely helped expand on my PHP and Javascript skills.

Working on these ecommerce websites has certainly improved my design skills over time. As with anything, practice makes perfect and repetition reaps benefits when it comes to designing web pages. I can highly recommend using sites like dribbble to keep a your finger on the pulse of the latest design trends. Also a simple google of related sites can help identify common patterns in page design/layout for whatever it is you are building.

Going My Own Way

After a couple of years of working at Sixty I find myself going my own way. Last November I had just finished my Open University Degree in which I achieved a 2:1 which I was delighted with. With the cost of living rising and a sizable daily commute though I was finding the option of working for myself more and more appealing.

If I’m honest I didn’t expect to be at this stage of my web development journey quite so quickly, even though the end game for me had always been having the autonomy of working for myself doing something I truly enjoy. Web development.

So I find myself in the present. I’ve produced a couple of projects as a solo entity. TTYarncraft, an ecommerce project that I am offering ongoing support on, and a brochure website with some SEO work in Simple Planning Solutions.

I will go into more depth on certain subjects covered here in future blog posts, including my recent projects and how I have gone about building them etc.

For now though you are pretty much up to date on my web development journey. If you need a website, please contact me and we can schedule a call to discuss your requirements.

Take care

Chris ✌

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