8 Tips To Becoming A Better Developer


First of all - what does being a better developer mean to you? We know by now that the best developers can’t rest on the laurels of their talent or the number of hours spent at the screen.

As the adage ‘work smarter, not harder’ so rightly puts it, the key to becoming a better developer is to nurture your growth with clever and consistent everyday habits of excellence.

Experiment, Create, Iterate

Inspiration brings out the best in us. When you find a project you’re personally invested in, you’ll push yourself to deliver something you’re proud of. As you go, you’ll learn how to problem-solve on your own and stumble upon little moments of creative or innovative genius.

Focus on learning and iterating as you go. Set yourself a challenge—deadlines, accountability, parameters, etc—not a project you can conveniently forget about. The more fun and meaningful, the more practice you’ll get. It’s experience like this you can’t just replicate.

Read the docs

Nobody likes to read the manual, or in this case, the documentation. But, it does pay off. The knowledge you can gain can seriously set you apart from other developers. Instead of getting stuck and finding yourself lost in a rabbit warren of forums and help threads, dive into language and framework documentation first. Make it a proactive habit to read these docs before launching in to start with.

Code, code, and more code

This is a really obvious one: just write code. Does this need to be said? Yes absolutely. In the current developer communities that I'm a part of, one thing is for real - the amount of procrastination amongst developers who want to become better is no joke.

Instead of constantly asking the question "how can I be a better developer" - just write code. As with anything, and being a developer is no exception, practice makes perfect.

Here are a few ways you can write lots of code:

  • Create a personal portfolio
  • Contribute to open source
  • Create lots of side projects (and probably never finish one if you're anything like me)
  • Review your past code and improve it

Connect & collaborate

A bit of objectivity from your community will go a long way. Find the opportunities that work for you—like user groups, hackathons or pair programming. The intimidating part might be sharing your work, but the long-term benefits of listening and learning from others are exceptional. Take it to the next level and find yourself a mentor for technical and career guidance.

Help others

The best way to help yourself? Help others. Look for opportunities to lend a hand or offer advice on any obstacles your colleagues may be stuck with. Not only does this set up a great culture and team support, helping others solidifies what you’ve already learned because you have to:

  1. Recall or ideate a solution using your experience.
  2. Provide a strong case as to why your solution will work.
  3. Detail and advise on how best to action this solution.

A great way to build a name for yourself and help others at the same time is to answer questions on stackoverflow.com.

Learn from others

The dev industry is fast-moving. So, if you want to stay informed on the latest news, updates and innovations, find and follow some reliable sources. These sites not only offer up fresh and relevant insights, they also help you to save time, keep track of trends and join active online communities.

I recommend daily.dev and dev.to to get started, and find a few tech blogs you like, like mine?

Take breaks

What?! You have to look after yourself to become better at your career? Yes, it’s important to have goals and discipline. But remember, hyper-focusing on your career will always result in diminishing returns. Break up your routine with activities you enjoy.

Get outside, breathe fresh air, exercise, eat well. Keep tabs on your mental chatter and put your emotional wellbeing first. It’s not just for your health. You’ll find your work output improves dramatically, too.

Take notes

While taking notes by hand sounds a bit antiquated, there’s some serious science behind its ability to radically boost your memory. However, if putting pen to paper isn’t for you, taking digital notes is still powerful. I recommend taking notes while learning complex and detailed information. You may come back to your notes or you may not. The point is to actively process and imprint important points for significantly better memory recall down the track.

What's the common thread in all of these tips?

All these tips and tricks come back to being a great learner. So if this logic serves, as you become excellent at learning, you’ll become an excellent developer.

As you may recall from your school days, you need to figure out how you learn best. Because if you’re going to sustain a successful, meaningful and long-term career, you’re going to want to enjoy doing it.

What next?

I share lots of valuable content and write 2 blog posts a week on topics relating to dev and programming. I recommend subscribing to my newsletter at the bottom of this post, following me on Twitter and checking out the rest of my blog.