A fly-through guide to web development best practices.

Hack Reactor, 2020-04-30

(Except you)

You can read these slides directly at

Stuff Everybody Knows

Who is this jerk?

Laurie Voss

  • Web developer since 1996
  • Founded some companies
    • awe.sm, acquired 2014
    • npm, Inc., acquired, uh, last week
  • Currently at Netlify


What are we talking about?

I may also include sarcastic remarks down here.

  • Dunning-Kruger
  • Automate everything
  • JavaScript
  • UX
  • Databases
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Testing
  • Debugging
  • Architecture
  • Soft skills

Q: Who died and made you god of web development?

A: Twitter, America's most trusted source for real facts.

Dunning Kruger

Dunning Kruger Study

Dunning & Kruger won the Ig Nobel prize for psychology in 2000, but this is really useful stuff.

Top quartile

Impostor syndrome

"You're probably awesome" is my motivational poster.

Bottom quartile

Disaster area

Automate everything

Time saved by automation

Touch typing

Four-finger typing is not enough.

The command line

Real fact: this girl is 40 now.

Text editors

Vim is overrated. Don't @ me.

Learn one and stick to it.

Version control

git or GTFO

What is your job?

  • 50% understanding the problem

  • 50% building the solution

"How soon do you need it?" is always part of the problem.


All hail Sir Tim, the least problematic founder ever.


  1. You don't always need an app
  2. Consider progressive enhancement

You don't always need an app

Rich apps are fun to build, and that's the problem.

Progressive enhancement


is what a web app feels like, not what it looks like

URLs are part of UX

Most UX problems can be solved by modeling humans as monkeys of average intelligence.

Support deep links


is the same as


Beware the hashbang!

Solve the user's problems, not yours

Nobody uses carousels:

"Apple does it" is not a good enough reason.

Be predictable

Be fast

Performance is invisible UX.

Mobile first

Mobile + other Devices = 70%


is not optional


There is no one true database.


Best database ever.


It's a database, but in your browser!

npm install pouchdb


Memory shared between machines


I have to stop making fun of Mongo.

...or do I?


(by which we mean MariaDB)


Get somebody else to run it for you.


Mo' money, less problems.


Great for search. Not a database.

The file system

Slow as hell, scalable as hell

S3: get Jeff Bezos to do it for you.


A scaling strategy, not a backup strategy.


Are not real unless you test them.

Ask about our recent database deletion!


Because people are terrible sometimes.

3 principles of software security

  1. You can't add it later
  2. Never trust the user
  3. Defense in depth

Input validation

Regular expressions are really hard and really worthwhile.










Speed is the only thing that matters


is about cost, not performance

People are more expensive than hardware.


is another type of speed

This is where I make fun of Australia.

Moving closer in space

CDNs are magic, and magic is pricey.

Moving closer in time

Cram every damn thing into memory


TDD is a bad idea. Go on, @ me.

is a thing you do for your future self

Automate, automate, automate

Make the intern do it

Write evil tests

"What happens if I put emoji in here?"


Changing stuff at random is not debugging.

Be explorative

"What does this button do?"

Be deliberate

If you don't know how you fixed it,

you didn't really fix it.


Bad code everyone uses

is better than beautiful code nobody uses.

Frameworks are about people, not technology

A pretty good framework is better than an amazing snowflake

Modularity is a scaling tactic

Modules allow software to scale past the limit of our monkey brains.

13 functions, 78 interactions

13 functions, 16 interactions



Soft skills

is a bullshit term.

These are the hardest skills.

Don't be an asshole

"people will forget what you said, 

people will forget what you did, 

but people will never forget

 how you made them feel." 


Maya Angelou

Value yourself

Never work alone

"Hey, you guys need any Cold Fusion done?"

Keep learning

Share what you know

Pay it forward.


How to find and get a job (by @jewelia)


How to interview other people:


Fight Impostor Syndrome

by ganging up

Stuff I totally skipped

  • HTML & CSS
  • Databases
  • SQL
  • Authentication
  • Security exploits
  • Deployment
  • Source Control
  • Caching
  • Service-oriented architecture
  • Time zones
  • Distributed systems
  • Internationalization
  • Mobile
  • Offline-first
  • So. Much. Stuff.
  • Go explore!

It's finally over

Now would be good time to follow me on Twitter!

It seemed like he would never shut up

These slides are at:

Good questions get stickers!