Tips on being a productive Web Developer

Take long breaks, and work in sprints.

Breaks are necessary to allow our minds to rest and reset. Try taking a 15 minute break after 1 hour of productive, focused work. Extended periods of abstract thinking is exhausting, and when your mind is exhausted you tend to slowly write inelegant, non-robust code. It’s an issue of quality over quantity. Whatever you do, walk away from your computer, and give yourself a well deserved break.

Most developers know what it’s like to hit the proverbial wall when trying to resolve a bug – it’s usually 5 o’clock at the end of a work day, and your brain is exhausted. Don’t stay any longer wasting time. Leave the studio, come in the next morning, and resolve it within 5 minutes. I encounter this so many times, and like magic, I can usually resolve the issue in a matter of minutes the following morning.

It’s also just as important to let everyone in the office know when you are busy. Doing something as simple as wearing headphones – or as the movie ‘The Social Network’ calls it, being ‘wired in’ – is a subtle signal that you don’t want to be bothered.

As a developer, you don’t need to be sitting in front of a computer to be working. Our minds are solving problems in the background even when we aren’t actively thinking about them, so don’t feel bad if you’re shooting pool when you’re supposed to be “working”.


Don’t reinvent the wheel.

This seems like a no-brainer, but I still catch myself trying to create things that have already been created. More often than not, the solution is already out there somewhere, you just need to take the time to do a little research. Research specific code snipits, plugins, modules, or other tools to accomplish what you need. This can save you a ton of time and headache.

You can also use a library or framework. A common example is jQuery – a feature-rich JavaScript library. Imagine writing the same front-end web application with only JavaScript, having to account for browser compatibility issues, and such. This would greatly slow down production. For larger web applications consider using a server-side framework. I’m currently building an application with the PHP framework CodeIgniter. Most frameworks provide commonly used functions and conventions that help speed up development. Frameworks and libraries allow us to forget about the smaller, tedious aspects of coding, and let us focus on the bigger picture.


Save your code snippets, and create a resource.

Most of the time it’s necessary for us to write our own jQuery plugins, php classes, etc, especially if complex designs are involved, and the solution doesn’t already exist. Don’t just construct an elegant solution, implement, then forget about it. Throw your invention into version control. Create an account with GitHub, or Bitbucket, and store your masterpiece in a repository. Versioning your code will put everything in one place allowing you to easily revisit and download it later.



Take time to learn. Bookmark your favorite blogs. Take a moment out of your busy schedule to read them, and if you’re not already ahead of the curve, you’re sure to learn something new. This will help spur ideas for future development, or maybe even give guidence toward a current solution to a problem. Technology evolves quickly, and it’s imperative to keep an eye on the bleeding edge. Here are a few of my favorite blogs:


Photo Credit:  – POD – | Flickr