It’s easy for front-end developers to feel overwhelmed these days. What should you learn next? Which framework is going to take off? There are no absolute answers, of course, but if full-stack developer Wes Bos creates a course on a new technology, it’s safe to say it has matured enough for you to be able to pick it up and not waste your time on it. The latest one is CSS Grid, a free video course that more than 35,000 people signed up to in the first week alone.
This new course took Wes around two and a half months of full-time work to build, requiring a lot of upfront investment so he could understand and explain it comfortably.
To pay for this massive investment, Mozilla came on board as a sponsor and in exchange Wes used Firefox Devtools to demonstrate to viewers how they work and how effective they are when it comes to CSS Grid.
Clearly Wes’s courses are learning by doing at its best. Yet he says he’s actually a very slow learner himself.
“It might seem like I can just consume anything and understand it,” he laughs. “But the only thing I can attribute my understanding to is just pushing through those harder points and sheer time. I have a big chunk of my day dedicated to learning new skills, which is extremely lucky. That’s why it seems like I’m always a bit ahead of the curve.”
"I see that all the time. Often I get nasty emails from people, and a couple of hours later they apologise. You just get that rage blindness of how hard it is to learn. I hated it for a long time, and there was no ‘aha’ moment for me. I just kept at it and slowly but surely, over the course of three or four years, it started to get a little bit easier and I became more confident.”
His style of teaching has clearly tapped into a need. Around 220,000 people have taken at least one of Wes’s courses. Often they enjoy them so much that they're willing to pay for others – such as ES6 for Everyone, React for Beginners and Learn Node. And now he regularly receives emails from people telling him he changed their lives.
“It’s really weird, you don’t expect it,” he enthuses. “At the end of the day I’m just some guy recording my screen, but somebody emailed me recently saying they went through a bunch of my courses and got a C$15,000 raise from their boss [around £8,600], which is life-changing for a lot of people.
"Obviously, I’m not going to attribute just my courses to it – these people are self-starters – but they said that my courses played a large role in them either getting raises or jobs. They also said that I’ve reignited their love for web development. There’s a lot of burnout in our industry, people get sick of it after a while, and need to continually update their skills. I want my courses to be fun and remind people of that little spark they experienced when they first started learning and worked things out.”
“It will start you from the ground up and explain all the different React concepts,” Wes describes. “You’ll leave being able to build an application that fetches data from an API that is routed on the client side and pulls in your CSS.”
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