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Jeff Puls
Jeff Puls

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I Need Your Critique to Become a Better Developer!

Calling all web dev professionals and aficionados, I need your help!

As anyone in the tech space who has gone the self-taught route can tell you, there are several times when you hit a mental brick wall on your journey. I have once again unfortunately found myself slamming face-first into this proverbial mental blockade, but this time I'm trying a different approach to getting over it.

bang head gif

Being the only tech-minded one among my family and friends, I spend much of my time learning and processing things on my own. While as an introvert this seclusion can be nice, I've come to realize that it has severely crippled my opportunity to advance to the next stage in my quest for knowledge. For the past few years, I have very much had only myself (with the exception of one semester with a very poor community college professor) to provide any sort of feedback on the work I have done up to this point.

My Ask

What I need from the wonderful DEV community is some constructive, creative criticism and critique of what I have done thus far. Without any outside review, I'm afraid I have no idea where my time is best spent improving.

If you can spare a few moments, I would greatly appreciate anyone who is willing to take a look at my work from both an overall conceptual design standpoint, as well as a more technical "behind the scenes" perspective focusing on things like performance and code cleanliness. Am I doing something consistently right? Wrong? Absolutely unheard of?

You can view the major projects I've done / am currently working on at my website, as well as everything on my GitHub. (Try to keep chronology in mind, as these things span back to the beginning of my journey.)

Please leave any feedback you have (positive or negative, I'm not looking for only sugarcoated praise, although that's always appreciated 😉) in the comments here, at the email listed on my GitHub, or through the contact form on my website.

pretty please gif

Help me DEV.to, you're my only hope!

Discussion (27)

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

I'm just going to list these things out in order of my thoughts - and how I'd decide to hire you or not (because that's how I'd think about it first)

  • I like that I know your name. It's big. It's Jeff.
  • I'll check it out at 320px (iPhone 5) - kinda too big! - consider using clamp() for the heading
  • no idea what those icons at the top do.
  • I'm pretty bored with the 'typeing in' type animation that 'coders' seem to be doing
  • "I build cool stuff for the web" Who said? That's subjective... you've got a little window to tell me who you are - and this is too vague: check thisjonathanstark.com/daily/20170911-s... out
  • I don't feel compelled to push the learn more button
  • I'm generally worried by developers who prioritize 'dark' mode.
  • I'm going to scroll...
  • portrait is all stretched out
  • The spacing and alignment and type is pretty off / "web" is on a line by itself - and some space that probably needed to be used at this size
  • "I enjoy bla bla bla (vague again)" and then doubling down on dark mode? Wow. Why? I think you mean you like "theming" and "CSS" and - well, you can tell that story in a much more compelling way. Those things are important. dark-mode gets hard really fast - when the site gets bigger. Why not have more 'modes'? Now I want to know if you used 'prefers' or localStorage or both
  • things are animating in and out as I scroll - but not in a good way. It's hard to really tell how fast people will scroll. Designers like to pretend that people will scroll all slow and make the animations work all buttery and perfect - but they never do.
  • padding on the textarea for the form is a red-flag for attention to details.
  • social icons aren't aligned in the footer
  • not sure whey the projects are grouped by "react" (a JS library) and "typescript" (arguably a subset of JS) and Python... when people really want to know "what" and "why" and "how" - when they get to the project.
  • I'm not enticed to click on the projects - and I'm still not totally sure what you do. What are your specialties?
  • I'm feeling "boot camp" vibes
  • Just now noticing the menu icon animation on scroll pretty cool!
  • ok - back to the computer browser
  • I'd run a lighthouse: 50/100 performance
  • no errors in the console
  • All of the HTML is terrifying - but I see #root - so, it's react probably... so, MAYBE the inline CSS is a good thing?
  • no semantic headers or sections
  • The snow is fun - but I don't care for the other animations. just feel broken. not specifically yours - but just the scrolling i mentioned. Feels more clunky than 'smooth'
  • I'm 10x more interested in your blog posts. The thumbnails are cool - and I can actually tell what they are about by their titles. I want to go look at those. Cool! Hearing your thought process is much more impressive than the portfolio site.
  • I don't know why this website isn't written in super clean HTML and killer CSS since you love theming
  • I have to go eat dinner now - but I can give you some advice if you like. Code-wise, I don't think there's a point picking at it if it's React. It's more about your developer experience and the code is going to be trash when it compiles anyway.
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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Let me just start off by saying holy crap, thank you! This response is a treasure trove of feedback and exactly what I'm looking for.

The two glaring things that stood out to me from reading this were honestly things I guess I'm already aware of and have been trying to ignore.

The first of which being I haven't really grasped the conversion between desktop and mobile design... it's tough! Not to mention accounting for multiple screen sizes within the two designs.

The second, and it doesn't just pertain solely to my portfolio, being that I struggle to describe myself. I can go on and on about the intricacies behind a project I'm working on or a topic I care about, but when I need to boil down to a few sentences about who I am and what I do, I draw a complete blank. I definitely need to sit down and figure this out.

I really do appreciate the time you put into this and the honest feedback, I don't take it lightly!

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

I can help you sort that all out. The responsive stuff is pretty simple - it just requires a little mental shift.

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek • Edited on

That all being said: it's just as good as everyone else's portfolio for the most part!

A few tune-ups will go a long way. Then you can totally start getting jobs.

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

I will definitely be taking everything you've shared into consideration and going back over the whole thing.

As a quick aside, you're spot on. It is React, made with a framework I'm working on utilizing inline styling, with some server-side CSS optimization. So that's where the inspector ugliness comes from (and probably the performance hit, although mobile lighthouse reads in the mid-to-upper 70s on my machine).

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

I'm in a one-off chrome incognito window and I got 50 the first time and 25/100 when I tested again. Strange

lighthouse

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Definitely curious. I just ran it myself several times on both Brave and Chrome incognito tabs, both giving no lower than 66 on Mobile, and 95 on Desktop. I'm hosted via Netlify so I wonder if it's an issue with the server you're being connected to

screenshot

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

Consider building it with regular HTML so people can see some proof you can write it. There are thousands and thousands of "React" devs that can't.

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

RE: score: weird! It's not always consistent - but our numbers are really off!

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Rewriting is vanilla HTML/CSS has been at the back of my mind for a while (especially now that I've gained a lot more experience with designing for multiple themes). When I started off making this iteration, it was more of a proof-of-concept for the framework I was designing, and it just sort of got to the point of "holy crap this would be a lot of work to do again"

But I agree, in its current form, React is overkill for this and probably doing more harm than good

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek

It'll be great practice. You can even keep both and compare and write an article. As I said, I'd be happy to help you. 🤠

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

That would be fantastic. If you don't mind, I might PM you here in a little while to pick your brain on some things. I'm elbows-deep in rewriting everything right now, so I'm sure I'll get stuck somewhere along the way.

Again, I appreciate all the insight you've given thus far!

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sheriffderek profile image
sheriffderek • Edited on

I'm elbows deep in rewriting...

Maybe you should wait until we talk... ; )

You can find me in the CSS Discord later this evening.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

I took a look at your portfolio you seem to know what you are doing. It has a light and dark theme which is cool. The design shows that you have some creativity. Your GitHub has a few nice projects. You look like an experienced developer or at least a developer who is improving 😎

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Thank you, I appreciate that!

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pjotre86 profile image
pjotre86

Why no learn on a job? Is it difficult to find something in NY these days?
That way the reviewer gets money for reviewing and you get money for learning. Nothing can replace the experience you get in real jobs IMHO.

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Well, that is more or less why I am looking for some quick community insight. Being that my entire learning experience has existed within a bubble including only myself, I'm trying to judge my "readiness" to begin applying what I've learned professionally.

Am I at a point where I could get hired? Is there something I should put a bit more time into before taking that next step? These are the questions I'm trying to answer for myself right now.

I appreciate the advice though and certainly agree that real-world experience is the next (and certainly biggest) step to tackle.

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pjotre86 profile image
pjotre86

Don't grind your head too much about it. You're ready! You cannot learn everything in advance. And noone expects that either. Especially when it's the first job. Just jump 😉
I know it's sounds scary, but there's nothing to be afraid of! After a couple of weeks you'll look back and think: I should've done it even earlier!

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

I really appreciate the vote of confidence!

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

As a quick aside, I live in the middle of nowhere in Upstate, New York, not the city, so job opportunities in the tech field aren't necessarily abundant.

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giorgosk profile image
Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀

Some things I noticed on your website in no particular order

  • you seem like you are fresh out of college/bootcamp as I see no work mentioned other than projects
  • perhaps you can even mention the bootcamp or college you attended (did not see it anywhere)
  • "I build cool stuff for the web" is a little vague it seems to fit better with your projects below
  • perhaps you can say something like "I am a creative react developer ... bla bla bla" perhaps you can even say that you are looking for a job ?!!!
  • in general your website looks cool for a junior but even if you are someone with industry experience
  • the colored dots falling down animation perhaps should start with dots already filling the whole viewport it looks weird when it starts and all dots are on the top window side, later on when the screen is full of them it looks GOOD
  • It is weird to press learn more just to scroll 500 or so pixels. I would take the button out they would scroll anyway. If it was leading to a new page it would make more sense.
  • The buttons on the menu are a very cool idea I might just STEAL IT
  • all other things seem to be appropriate (did not find something that bothered me)

I also took a look at ThoriumUI which seems like a cool project, it tells lots about you, and seems like a project an experienced developer would build, so KUDOS. You might want to focus a little bit on the styles of it though. Icons are not completely centered in their container can see it immediatelly on the burgerMenu. Some other elements seem to be sloppy or not well designed. Form elements in form component for example look like they don't have enough paddings margins to breathe. Perhaps improve on it as it very well can be a strong point on your first application for a job.

I say start sending application for react developer positions. Don't need to limit yourself to junior positions. Be bold and send to anything that says 1-5 years of experience. Years of experience is probably overrated as things change every year.
I believe you have an eye for frontend and web deveopment and can see that you are willing to improve. Explain to the interviewee that you are a junior but a fast learner and the reasons you would be an asset for them and try to relate to what they are doing (research the company). Showcase your website and the improved thoriumUI and I believe you will be just fine.

Unfortunatelly those are the two things I had the time to check out, perhaps that is all the time a prospective employer will give you, so focus on improving those minor details which actually make or break things.

Good luck

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Giorgos, thank you for taking the time to look through my work!

I did not attend school or a boot camp (aside from two semesters of community college), everything I know / have done have been self-study from various resources. That's a problem I've run into with describing myself (especially on a standard resume) as I don't have relevant credentials to fall back on or show off.

Thorium is definitely my most ambitious project to date, and I absolutely misjudged how much work it was going to be to flesh out when I began haha, but I wanted to use it to get experience working with components I wouldn't otherwise think to use/design in other projects. I lost interest in it for a while as it didn't really yield the performance boost I was hoping for over other development methods, but you're right, I should continue at least polishing what I have completed.

Again, I appreciate the feedback and welcome any more you can think of!

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giorgosk profile image
Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀

Jeff
perhaps you can mention that you are self-taught somewhere
and you might want to mention that these are practice projects until you have real projects to showcase.

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codeswaps profile image
Simon • Edited on

Hi Jeff, I won't go into all the specifics as that has already been covered well in this thread.

In general, I believe this website has the potential to be very cool, however it just misses the mark in a few areas.

My main observation is that it is not immediately clear what product and/or service you are offering or why I should want to contact you.

I suspect this site is falling into the common trap of trying to impress other developers rather than succeeding as a business tool for you, which basically is all a website really is - a marketing tool that needs to meet an objective.

Just my 2 cents :) Keep going I am sure you will nail it.

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Hey Simon, thanks for the insight.

I totally agree on all counts, what I'm presenting of myself is way too vague. I guess the main reason behind that is that I don't yet have any practical experience in a relevant field, which leads me to fall back to the very generalized "I make cool stuff for the web" tag line.

I don't want to pigeon-hole myself into a niche that I'm not sure really describes who I am and what I can do. I've looked at awesome examples of other dev's portfolios, and noticed they all have a pretty solid "I do X and Y for Z company in such and such role." I'm not really sure how to translate my personal learning experience into something tangible to represent myself in so few words.

I appreciate your taking the time to look it over!

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eulier profile image
Eulier Gonzalez • Edited on

The market shift in USA looking to outsourcing job labor is moving toward to reduce cost.
I'm from Venezuela and start my journey from 2017, i could migrate to Argentina in 2019 (not the best destiny but far more better from Venezuela).
So keep up the pace, make yourself accountable, take care of your health, talk/listen with friends about your projects and their aswell. Involve in a community (Discord), sleep, enjoy the process and patience.

Best of luck and success.

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jpuls profile image
Jeff Puls Author

Thank you for the advice and insight!