TL;DR: Always and never
There are a lot of definitions for “expert web developer.” All require a person to be constantly learning whether it is completing the 10,000 hour rule or being a jQuery core team member. Web technology changes at a crazy fast pace. One day you’re the top expert in the latest and greatest framework, the next you’re a relic of the past.
To avoid this pitfall, expert web developers must constantly be sharpening their skills. Jakob Jenkov does a great job in outlining a path to expertise that developers must follow:
- Learn it
- Do it
- Discuss it
- Teach it
Simple – only four steps. The key is not the number of steps, but rather that these steps are part of a cyclical process. Step four leads right back into step one; always be learning, improving and sharing your knowledge.
- HTML gives content on your web page meaning and structure
- CSS presents your content with a particular look and feel
Putting your newly minted skills to the test by building is absolutely essential to your learning. My experiences building interfaces for trading platforms and healthcare applications challenged what I knew and forced me to improve as new obstacles arose. Only by “Doing it” can you gain confidence in your skills and knowledge as a developer.
With this confidence, start to give back to the community that provided so much guidance. StackOverflow and Google Groups are a great way to offer your thoughts and improve the community. Identifying helpful resources will be key in teaching others and improving your own skills.
Being a teacher is not about having all the answers. You have to be able to troubleshoot a myriad of issues, recognize solution patterns and apply them in new instances. Teaching others is as much about helping others learn as it is about you being able to teach yourself.
Time to get back to becoming an Expert. Thanks for reading.