Episode #22 - Matt Studdert, founder of Frontend Mentor, shares his passion for helping others to learn

Matt tells us how he made the switch from fitness and personal training into founding one of the most popular front end development resources out there today!

In this Episode

After being recommended as a guest to the show by several twitter peeps, we’re so pleased to welcome Matt Studdert. Matt is a fellow UK developer and founder of the hugely popular Frontend Mentor, a coding skills levelling up platform used by close to 100,000 people to hone their skills in front end development.

Matt hails from a background in fitness and personal training and made the leap to dev life, and shares a passion for helping others get into development. He’s going to share his story and give us some tips on how and where to start with learning to be a developer.

Listen now


Want to sponsor the show? Head on over to [the sponsorship page] (/sponsorship) to take advantage of early sponsorship!


We mention a few different resources in the show and you can find them here:

You can find out more about me, Rob Kendal, on my personal website, or follow me on Twitter.


[00:00:00] Rob Kendal: [00:00:00] So welcome to episode, checks notes, two. I reached out, I needed like a counter next to me. That shows what episode I’m on episode two of season three. And we’re joined today by Matt Studdert it after being recommended as a guest to show by several Twitter peeps where we’re very pleased. Welcome Mr. Matt. He’s a fellow UK developer and founder of the hugely popular.

[00:00:17] Front-end mentor. According skills leveling up platform used by close to a hundred thousand people. That’s amazing to hone their skills in front end development. Matt hails from a background in fitness and personal training and made the leap to dev life, and shares a passion for helping others get into development.

[00:00:33] He’s going to share a story and give some tips on how you can start learning to be a developer. So huge. Welcome to the show, Matt. Thanks for Kevin to the social peer pressure and a polite request to go on the show. How’s it all going?

[00:00:45] Matt Studdert: [00:00:45] Yeah, it’s a, this is actually my first podcast ever. So I’m, so I’m excited to be a guest. Yeah. It’s it’s something that I’ve kind of wanted to do and always had a goal to do at some point. But just, this is, this is the first one, so excited and looking forward to [00:01:00] it.

[00:01:00] Rob Kendal: [00:01:00] Doubly on it, then the nice process, I think from a, I’ve been a guest on, on a few, and it’s a much bad process. Cause you kind of just, you say things for awhile and you just say bye-bye and leave. And then all the editing and faff that goes about behind the scenes. You’re like, you just leave all that, just like light the fire and then go out and see ya.

[00:01:18] It’s job done. So no, that’s brilliant. I’m surprised you’re not being asked on tomorrow actually. Cause it’s, it’s one of those, it’s a really popular platform. And I mean the Twitter account alone is, you know, what you up to about 12,000 days. So it’s, you know, it’s really popular,

[00:01:31] Matt Studdert: [00:01:31] Yeah. It’s yeah, 12, 12,000 was 30 now. And the, yeah, the platforms been kind of growing growing gradually. And I mean, I it’s, it’s also me. I’ve I’ve not been very proactive kind of. Asking and getting my name out there. I’m, I’m awful at social media myself. So I’m like very, very bad at kind of putting my thoughts out into the world.

[00:01:52] Not that anyone would really be interested in what I have to think, but at the same time it’s yeah, it’s one of those ones, but it’s probably on me not [00:02:00] asking people and kind of making the right connections and stuff like that, too.

[00:02:05] Rob Kendal: [00:02:05] I think, I think people underestimate how relentless social media is though. I mean, I, I go in these, like, I should smooth my curve out a bit, but I find that I go in these massive peaks of like loads of activity and then kind of non, and I mean, not the minute, I don’t know if it’s just a bit of January blues.

[00:02:19] I just, I just don’t have the energy, but you kind of, I, yeah, I was really aggressive with it last year and I grew my account to just over 2000 that’s sort of been, but like now I’m just about cost of every day, but that’s kind of automated, but yeah. The rest of it’s really flat. And I think people underestimate just how active you’ve got to be.

[00:02:33] Just like, you know, it’s like little and often it’s not like hours and hours, but it’s regular. And if you haven’t kind of got that mental commitment, it’s it really difficult.

[00:02:41] Matt Studdert: [00:02:41] Yeah, exactly. I’m really bad at context switching as well. So I prefer to just like code and just keep on and also with the community as well. I’m sort of very internally focused at the moment, but I need to be more externally focused as well as the, as the platform grows even more. It’s kind of just getting, getting [00:03:00] the word out there and everything is going to become more and more and more important.

[00:03:04] Rob Kendal: [00:03:04] Yeah, the context switching is definitely, I mean, I, again, I think it’s just to develop the mindset. I swept that, you know, you’d be like couple of hours there and then someone would just destroy it by coming over and said up, sending you an email. You’re like, ah, flips table goes up. Now we’re going to talk about front end mentor because it’s awesome.

[00:03:19] But I mean, I’m going to jump right in and ask about your development Stokes. It sounds really interesting. I’ve mentioned this many times, but mine is so plain vanilla when don’t want to go university want to do computers. Did computers, did development, any aroma developer while other people were like, Oh, I used to Ray.

[00:03:33] I used to be a ferret breeder or, you know, I was in the circus for three years and then I would just, and yet you always are similar. So you started out in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. How do you come to sort of migrate away from that and into, into development?

[00:03:47] Matt Studdert: [00:03:47] Yeah. So yeah, I suppose science background and then personal training as a, as a business kind of set up my own. Home personal training business. It was very much kind of me and my car driving around to different people’s [00:04:00] homes and getting all the equipment out and bringing it into their homes, helping them out, like exercise and everything.

[00:04:05] And then moving on to the next plan. And I loved it. I absolutely absolutely loved it. I’ve always been really in sport kind of growing up. And it was, it was a really great job, but I just had to. Kind of niggling feeling that it wasn’t the right thing for me, like the exact right thing. And I was also having a bit of a hard time pushing onto the next level with my business as it was because I had.

[00:04:27] I was pretty booked for clients and everything. And I would then any overspill like new clients to other personal trainers. But the problem is I didn’t have like my own GM or anything like that. So it would actually end up with. Them, obviously these personal trainers strike up a personal relationship with these clients that I’ve given them.

[00:04:49] And then within three to six months, they would just run off with those clients and set up a personal training business as well, like themselves. So I was kind of hitting a ceiling. And I didn’t want

[00:05:00] to buy a gym or like a kind of a studio or anything, because then you go overheads and you’re in a whole different ball game.

[00:05:05] So I, as soon as that switch had been flipped in my mind, I started to think of new ideas and what could, what I could potentially do that. Might still be in the fitness realm, but but not just personal training. And the thing that I always kept on coming back to was potentially building like an application or a web application or something like this.

[00:05:28] But the only problem is that all of the ideas I was having, I had absolutely no way of executing them myself and I had no way of building it. So. And I also didn’t have tens of thousands of pounds to give to any developer to try and like experiment with things that would be a very expensive lesson.

[00:05:49] I’m sure. But I, then, as soon as that had like that realization hit, I just decided to stop sort of learning to code [00:06:00] really. I got a job. I actually moved kind of originally from London, kind of first of all, but then moved to Cambridge when I was like six or so. And then I stayed in Cambridge for my personal training business and I actually made the switch to move back to London.

[00:06:14] And took up took up a job that was a company kind of setting motorized. It was like motorized protein powder mixes. His company called pro mix and it’s like a lazy, lazy man set shaking bottle kind of thing, like protein shaker. And it was, and that was, that was great. Like that was me just trying to sort of find it.

[00:06:36] Potential new career, but then just figuring a few things out with the direction I wanted to go in. And that only like what guy was doing there. I was inputting stuff on the content management system and playing around with the website a little bit. And with that, I, that was the final thing that clicked, whereas I okay.

[00:06:56] I really do want to build my own business again. I’m actually quite [00:07:00] interested in this web development thing, just as a, as a science thing. Anyway as part of my new job that I had at the time when I like decided sold off all of my clients at that time. And then I just thought I need to start learning it myself.

[00:07:13] And so I dived in and it was. Very much me with it was Linda linda.com back then. So it was like learning things like Ruby on rails and stuff like that on Linda just self self-teaching and then very quickly got a, kind of, was watching a YouTube video, had this pre-roll ad for YouTube come in or.

[00:07:35] For general assembly on YouTube. And I suddenly looked up this company called general assembly and realized that they do coding bootcamps. And I realized that there was a bootcamp starting kind of a month from that day in London. So I just thought like the stars were aligning and I just decided to go for it and quit, quit the job and everything as well, and just went [00:08:00] full time on that immersive bootcamp at general assembly.

[00:08:04] Rob Kendal: [00:08:04] Oh, wow. That’s amazing. I mean, have you always been, I mean, I presume if you’re doing Ruby and rails and stuff like that, it was, it was a fairly kind of full stack ish. Kind of boot camp, which is, which is pretty good, I think because it gives people a general flavor and it, it makes you quite a good generalist, which I know people seem to dislike, but I think there’s nothing wrong with being a bit, you know, I’ve been a bit of exposure to a lot of things.

[00:08:23] Did you have a leaning more towards the front end side of things? I was, I kind of naturally progressed that way.

[00:08:29] Matt Studdert: [00:08:29] Yeah, no. The, yeah, so the. The bootcamp was very much full stack. Focus on Ruby, Ruby on rails, a bit of Sinatra and then hasty mountain CSS was a little bit, it wasn’t really an afterthought, but it was very much, it was more backend focused. And the instructors that we had at the time were very much more backend developers.

[00:08:51] So they kind of said, Oh yeah, we’ve got these like bootstrap and stuff like that for the front end kind of thing. And And, but I actually, even though it was [00:09:00] a full stack course, but then more actually focused towards backend. I definitely just found the front end side. First of all, a bit more comfortable.

[00:09:08] It was a bit, I, I naturally found HTML, CSS and even JavaScript a little bit more intuitive as languages versus backend on the backend side. But then also. I just found it so much more rewarding building out these UIs and like just typing away on your computer and just having this thing grow and build in front of you.

[00:09:29] And so I just had this natural inclination towards the front end side of things. So as soon as I came out of the bootcamp, I was very much putting myself out into the world as a front end developer, as opposed to a full stack developer, which a lot of the general assembly grads were, were doing at the time.

[00:09:45] Rob Kendal: [00:09:45] The, the front end mentor gig you know, I, I noticed you’d been a lead instructor at general assembly. So what was that like going you know, you started out that with the boot camp and then it’s all just come full circle and be like the lead instructors. How did that go?

[00:09:58] Matt Studdert: [00:09:58] Yeah, it was it [00:10:00] was amazing actually. So I, after the general assembly bootcamp I actually, I got hired kind of eight days out of the bootcamp. So it was no, no, no small amount of imposter syndrome on my first day, kind of three months. And eight days later, I would, I’d gone from being kind of.

[00:10:17] Personal trainer or at the time like working at this other company for the sports ball, it was like mix of bottles, but I, and then I was just straight into full-time work as a, as a developer. So it was an amazing turnaround and an incredible experience. And then, because I hadn’t touched a line of code until I was 28 years old, like that was when I started co coding and found general assembly was when I was 28.

[00:10:40] And I just, there was very much a, a sense where I had some time that I needed to make up. And I was trying to find all of the ways that I could possibly Kind of use all of the avenues I could potentially use in order to learn more, learn faster, learn things at a deeper level. And one of these things was [00:11:00] to come back into the general assembly community, but as an instructor and they had some openings for the part-time courses, like the front end development 10 week part-time course, for instance, as a teaching assistant, And they obviously knew me because I had been on in the massive course.

[00:11:19] And so I applied for a role as a teaching assistant. And then did, I think it was three or four cohorts as a, as a teaching assistant. During that I also then started being the lead instructor for a couple of their one-off workshops. Like. A two hour workshop called understanding the stack for instance, which is all very high-level stuff.

[00:11:37] But it’s just giving people an understanding of the technology stack and a lot of people like product managers or new new employees for tech companies come in, come in and take that workshop. So I was doing a little bit of teaching work, like actual actually being the instructor on these short form, like one evening workshops.

[00:11:56] But then I was doing teaching assistant work on these 10 week ones. And [00:12:00] after a few of the 10 week ones and a couple of workshops I suddenly realized like, actually I could probably teach this thing now. So so yeah, I applied for a role as the lead instructor for for the course and. They yeah, they gave me the position.

[00:12:14] So I think now I’ve gone through, I think, eight or nine cohorts as the, as the lead instructor on the, on the front end dev part-time course. So so yeah, it was, it was a great way to. Like deepen my own knowledge by helping her this. But then also I’ve always had a bit of a fear of, I mean, so many people have this, but like public speaking and speaking in front of people.

[00:12:36] So so it’s one of those things I kind of wanted to do it as well, so that I could get a bit more confident with talking in front of people and especially classrooms with people as well. So it was, it definitely helped with that, which was, which was great.

[00:12:49] Rob Kendal: [00:12:49] Yeah. That’s that’s yeah, that’s incredible. Especially the pressure is magnified, like doing something cold and you’ve got to type something in everybody’s watching. You’ve got like however many, however, big the cohorts, all at all those eyes looking at you [00:13:00] going, he spelled that variable wrong, but he’s

[00:13:01] missed a semi-colon.

[00:13:03] Don’t tell him do you still keep your hand in that? Well as I noticed, I said I think I’ve seen that you’ve transitioned full-time to frontend mentor. Do you still keep your hand in general assembly? I was that kind of, is that out there now?

[00:13:14] Matt Studdert: [00:13:14] Yeah. So so I still, I’m still teaching, like if there’s, for instance, last Wednesday I taught a two hour workshop in the evening. One of these understanding the stack, one’s actually in a couple of weeks, I’m doing a weekend bootcamp for them. But now if it’s, if it would be a contract that would take up my time Monday to Friday nine to five kind of thing I’m now saying no to them.

[00:13:38] So I’m kind of, full-time on front-end mentor. As of, as of this month, really. I kind of put my, put my stake in the ground with it like mid mid December, but this is my first sort of full months being actually full-time on front-end mentor now, which is very exciting.

[00:13:55] Rob Kendal: [00:13:55] Amazing. And then some kind of just to point out, we do recall these with a hell of a time lapse [00:14:00] because I’m a single man and I like to get a lot of edit in, in the bag. So when we talk about this month is January, 2021. Whenever this comes out, which will probably be March Matt will be be several months into it and be hugely, hugely well.

[00:14:12] Now on the meat and potatoes, speaking of front and mentor, it’s a, it’s a wonderful platform and I see it recommended. Almost daily by people on Twitter people. I mentor directly discard channels. I mean, there’s like no scalp in it and rightly so, it’s a great idea. So, but for anyone who hasn’t discovered it yet, can you give us the pitch?

[00:14:30] What is frontend mender? A front end mentor. And why should you be using

[00:14:35] Matt Studdert: [00:14:35] sure. So yeah, frontend mentor is it’s an online learning community. But instead of giving people theory and how to videos and tutorials and things. Instead we provide professional designs kind of responsive design as well, mobile desktop layouts and things. And it’s very much professional designs, realistic projects, and you get all of the raw materials.

[00:14:57] So as part of the downloads for these projects, [00:15:00] You get all of the assets, pre optimized, a front end style guide with colors and fonts and all this kind of stuff, and a very basic brief of what needs to be done in the project. And then you’re very much kind of out on your own. So it’s, I’m sort of learning by doing you would have to have a bit of a basic understanding of at least HTML and CSS to start out.

[00:15:21] But as long as you’ve got that, you can start on our newbie projects and we’ve got a Slack community now as well, which is kind of as of today, over 34,000 people in the Slack community as well. And so like if you have, if you get stuck on the challenge or anything like that, You can just jump into the Slack, there’s a help channel and you can ask questions and all this kind of stuff.

[00:15:43] And then just everyone pitches in and helps each other out as much as possible. Really. So, so yeah, it’s just sort of learning by doing and learning by building projects. And also with anything that you built, you can also put it in your portfolio as well. So a number of like a number of people now have got [00:16:00] jobs off the back of.

[00:16:01] Their portfolio and their portfolio has been solely made up of frontend mentor challenges, which is just incredible to hear.

[00:16:09] Rob Kendal: [00:16:09] That’s gotta be so rewarding to see that he really has, and it’s such a, I mean, it conforms really nicely to what I’ve been always recommending to people, because they’d say, you know, how do I get better at this? And it’s like, well, you can learn through bootcamps and you can do courses and all the tutorials and it’s all grass, but at some point you need to physically do the thing.

[00:16:28] So my recommendation was a bit more Because we like go to somewhere like ThemeForest where there’s just billions of themes. Grab one that you’ll look up and just copy it effectively, mean don’t resell it or anything, you know, awful like that. Don’t pay don’t pirate it, but just get it, do it yeah.

[00:16:42] On your own local server and either like pick a part of it. If it’s a complex theme or maybe just, you know, do the whole one the whole page or whatever, and just do that and then yeah. Get feedback on it. So. To be able to have professional designs for people to take apart and build it really is the best way, you know, that’s how I learned guitar and I’m not a guitar legend, but like, that’s [00:17:00] how I started.

[00:17:00] It was like, I took a guns and roses song along to an instructor and he was like, right, well, we will teach you the theory behind it, but then you go and you practice it and people point out, you know, why it’s, why it’s bad and how you can improve, I suppose. You know, rather than just, you know, we like it or we don’t, it’s all feedback.

[00:17:14] So that’s great.

[00:17:15] Matt Studdert: [00:17:15] Like that was actually the reason why I started in front of mentor in the first place was because my, my advice when I was teaching at general assembly was the students would come out and say, okay, I’ve got all of this knowledge now, where can I go? And practice? And my advice to them was always just.

[00:17:32] Build like build whatever you can, like carry on building your portfolio site, build, carry on building your final project that you are building during the course, go to dribble and try and recreate some dribble shots and like all of this kind of stuff. But then after a while I kind of thought, actually, this, this isn’t a realistic workflow of a, of a front end developer.

[00:17:52] Like you’re not gonna expect a front end developer to. Like come up with a project idea, do the UI design and then implement it in [00:18:00] code. Like if you’re, if it’s a front end developer on a job, they’re going to be getting designs, they’re going to be getting design specs and all of this kind of stuff.

[00:18:07] And then they’re gonna just have to take care of the bills. So actually that was, it was very similar advice that, that I was giving and I had just given it so many times that I was like, actually, There’s nothing like this, that exists in the world. So maybe I should just put it out there and see, see if other people enjoy it.

[00:18:24] And like it.

[00:18:25] Rob Kendal: [00:18:25] And this still isn’t really, I mean, I know it’s not been around for sort of long enough for people to kind of, it’s not great. Success is not been around long enough for people that go, who will copy that, but it really is the first of its kind and I think done so well. And it’s as complex as I’m sure with the underpinnings of it are the.

[00:18:41] The premise is so simple, you know, you go off you, like you said, you get the packaged assets and laser brief and then people in the community, you can kind of comment on it and stuff. Cause again, you mentioned about the portfolio, you know, I think that is something. That separates a lot of people, you know, they learn stuff and they’re like, right, I’ve got X, Y, and Zed knowledge.

[00:18:59] And [00:19:00] now I want to know, I want a junior job. And you, you kind of come into it fresh. You know, I I’ve been doing it. You know, whether I’m a good or bad developers, irrelevant, I’ve got Axios experience. So people can look at that and there’s a history and I can talk about stuff I may or may at mailman not have done in my baby’s job, but when you’re fresh to it, all you’ve got is some kind of examples and demos and, and the better the whole portfolio can be.

[00:19:20] And I like that. More realistic, you know, rather than just our med, this thing, I’ve got what I went through this process, and I know how that works. And it is a very realistic process. And that is literally what might some of my jobs where you work with a designer, Oh, he’s a PSD. It has to look like this.

[00:19:35] It can’t be these 10 pixels off I’ll, you know, we’ll, we’ll castrate you. And every year. And so, you know, you’d get a brief, you get a design and you kind of met for an end thing and then people would criticize it and you didn’t have it. Obli change the color of something who was slightly rolling off your feedback and off you go.

[00:19:48] So

[00:19:48] Matt Studdert: [00:19:48] Make the logo bigger is always the one as well.

[00:19:50] Rob Kendal: [00:19:50] Make the logo bigger. If I had a pound for every person, he said, make my logo bigger. I’ll tell you all. So it, so yeah, I think that kind of thing, you know, really is the best way [00:20:00] to grow and learn as a front end dev. What sort of projects do you have on there for people to, to kind of practice with it?

[00:20:04] Matt Studdert: [00:20:04] So we’ve got five different levels kind of newbie, like it goes from newbie, junior, intermediate advanced, and then guru. We don’t actually have any guru challenges yet out there. I think I’ve kind of cornered myself a little bit with that one because I was thinking like, We’ll have for the guru challenge, we’ll have like an open API that like build do an application and all of this kind of stuff, but actually it’s a lot of work to get that set up.

[00:20:30] And there’s so many other things that I’ve been focusing on that, like, I just haven’t got round to it. So. I’m at the moment exploring like headless CMS is like sanity and story block and Keystone and stuff like that, that I could potentially do a co build out a custom API with that, and then add our first ever guru level challenge.

[00:20:48] But But we’ve got all different types of projects. So we’ve got components, like small components. We’ve got newbie challenges, which has like just HTML and CSS and we’ve like, it could be a pricing

[00:21:00] component for instance. Or we’ve got. Smaller landing pages like coming soon pages and stuff like this with one form input that you’ll need to add a bit of client side validation for and then getting on towards the intermediate challenges.

[00:21:14] It’s more landing pages as well. Kind of a good like four or five sections or something like this. Maybe with the carousel in there as well, and mobile navigation and all of these different types of sort of. UI challenges and UI tests sort of just baked into the design. And then we’ve got a number of them as well, hook into third-party API.

[00:21:37] So we’ve got like a rest countries, API challenge where you can just plug into the rest countries, API and list out all the different countries and with the flags and all this kind of stuff. So it gets people, anyone can plug in. Like any JavaScript framework or they could go vanilla JavaScript or anything like that, but it just helps them plug into [00:22:00] a third party API practice there react or view or spelt or anything like that, or angular or anything that they want to practice.

[00:22:07] And we, for all of these challenges, we leave them very much open. So there’s literally no technological constraints on them whatsoever. So. If you want to practice bootstrap or tailwind, or you want to go vanilla and just do like plain HTML, CSS and Java script, then it’s literally completely open. You can, you just use them to practice whatever you want to practice.

[00:22:32] And then you could add in little questions and say, this is my. First time using SAS for instance, or something like this. Is there anyone here that knows SAS and could help me out with my file architecture or am I using nesting or mix-ins in the right way and all this kind of stuff. So it’s all, it’s kind of a, like your own adventure, like plan your own adventure kind of thing based on what your, what you’re learning at the time.

[00:22:57] There’s no, there’s no, like you have to use [00:23:00] Gatsby on this on this challenge, for instance,

[00:23:03] Rob Kendal: [00:23:03] Plan your on front end adventure. I love it. I like, I love the community oriented aspect as well. I think that adds another flavor to it. Cause you know, doing what, what we both originally suggested to like get design and make a thing, you know, you end up with something, but where do you get the feedback from?

[00:23:18] You’ve got to go and find people, you know, and you can say, you can talk to your sister or something, but you know your dad, but there w what are they? They’re not developers. They’re just all going to go. It looks nice. Ah, so you’ve got to go on these people. I’ll be a member of like a discard or something like that.

[00:23:30] So the, the feedback that they get is up pretty much entirely community based. Or do you have like in-house experts for want of a better word? You know, professionals providing advice and notes.

[00:23:41] Matt Studdert: [00:23:41] Entirely community community-based. I try and go in there as much as I can and kind of give feedback as well, but there’s no one sort of in house, like, well, it’s just me, me and my, my friend Mike works on it as well, but he he’s a full-time developer at future lens. So so he’s, and he’s very much a backend developer, [00:24:00] so he’s kind of doesn’t, it doesn’t feel confident and like diving in on the on the front end side too much.

[00:24:04] But but I’ll, I’ll try and give feedback wherever I can. But then we’ve also got just as we’ve grown we’ve there’s some amazing people that have just joined the community of all different levels and starting to kind of give feedback to people as well. And also I’m gonna. I’m going to be reworking the well, just evolving the platform to try and make it so that it’s fun and as easy as possible for people to give meaningful feedback to each other and fun as well.

[00:24:35] And also we’re going to try and automate as many things as possible to make it as easy as possible to people, for people to see like, High-level stats, for instance, there’s an open package. Open source package called CSS stats. I don’t know if you’ve seen that before. But like they essentially, you can run your CSS through the MPM package and it will give you like all of the different selectors that you’re using and the specificities and all of this kind of thing.

[00:24:59] And [00:25:00] we can just. Like the plan will be at some point this year, it’s kind of on the, on the roadmap. The never ending like an ever-growing roadmap. But you’d be able to have a dashboard essentially for your project that would show you these high-level stats and specificity graphs and all of this kind of stuff for your selectors.

[00:25:18] So you can at a glance get a really good understanding of. The quality of your code and this kind of thing. So it’s very much community led like the feedback. And we also try and emphasize it as much as possible because giving feedback to other people is actually an unbelievably good way to learn more yourself as well.

[00:25:38] So if you’ve taken two or three or four challenges, you’re actually in a really good position to go back. And if someone’s brand new to the platform just started out submitting their first challenge, like. To round out your own learning experience is actually unbelievably beneficial to go back and not just focus on submitting challenges and submitting [00:26:00] solutions, but have a mixture of submitting solutions, but then also giving feedback to others because you’re having to.

[00:26:06] Go into their code base, your thinking critically about their code. Like what have they done? Well, what have they done poorly? What could be improved, but then you’re obviously having to then convey that and give constructive criticism and talk about code with another person. And this is always another person that you’ve never met as well.

[00:26:26] So it gives you unbelievably good skills as a developer. Especially as a junior developer, which a lot of these people are like, not even in their first junior development role, if you can go to a hiring manager and say, here’s a portfolio of projects that I’ve built, like using a design. Oh. And his like hundreds of comments that I’ve made on other people’s code, demonstrating my knowledge and helping them out.

[00:26:51] Then that’s just going to be an unbelievably powerful thing to to help you put yourself to the top of the pile for any recruiter really.

[00:26:59] Rob Kendal: [00:26:59] That’s [00:27:00] absolute gold. You know, I’ve never thought about that til you said it, but it is such a, I mean, it does make up an unbelievable proportion of your job. You know what I mean? No, very few people are lucky enough to just start with a complete blank Greenfield development. You’re always starting right.

[00:27:15] With someone else’s court, no matter how good or bad it is. So having that skill to be able to go in and kind of look at it and understand it and work with it. And then, you know, every job you do, you’re going to be doing either some pair programming or code reviews at whatever level you’re in there. So yeah, that’s, I’d never thought about that before, but that is such a great argument.

[00:27:33] You know, to a point that you wouldn’t think of, but especially again, any little thing like that, that gives you the edge when it comes to being hired, you know, look, I’m already kind of production ready and

[00:27:42] Matt Studdert: [00:27:42] There’s people, there’s people in the community that have recently got hired and they’ve said like the boss and client for instance, are just unbelievably shocked at how good that. How good they are at taking a design and then building [00:28:00] out the design in kind of a good a good way.

[00:28:02] We have high quality code and everything, and that just through, through repetition and practice, but then also talking to other people and helping other people out. And I mean, the, the one, the thing that I would love is for more people. Of like with more experience in development to come onto the platform and just dive in and get involved, whether that’s taking challenges and showing how like a senior developer would approach the problem on one of these challenges and like showing that code or how like diving in and actually giving feedback is one thing at the moment.

[00:28:37] It is very much a lot of. New and junior developers on the, on the platform. And it’s great, like giving them that opportunity to talk about code and all that kind of stuff, hopefully over time. And this is something that I I’m planning to do is to just try and get more and more experienced and professional developers on the platform as well.

[00:28:58] Just everyone, [00:29:00] everyone helping each other, basically just everyone helping each other improve and get better.

[00:29:03] Rob Kendal: [00:29:03] I think I’m going to be off the back of this. I’m going to have to start coming in and throw in a few opinion, grenades

[00:29:08] Matt Studdert: [00:29:08] Amazing

[00:29:11] Rob Kendal: [00:29:11] for what my opinion’s worth. Here you go. I’ll try and get on that. I’m certainly going to be using it a lot more. I’m going to, I’m going to ditch my theme, forest recommendations. Just start going go. You’ve got to front and mental on a, you might say me on that. Now I think for the, for the for the third act, I’m going to try and pick your brain a little bit for some advice.

[00:29:28] So. A lot of people I come across, you know, are usually doing nothing coding related at all. Maybe they’re a bit older or they have like a non traditional educational background, but they want to switch careers and learn to be a developer. And I think you’re a great person to give those aspiring dabs and depths and training some advice because you were in a, you know, a completely unrelated field, did it cost, got the knowledge and made it happen?

[00:29:50] So what sort of advice would you give to people starting out to maybe don’t have the resources for university or the coming at things from like a diagonal approach and yeah. I just want to know.

[00:29:59] Matt Studdert: [00:29:59] Yeah. [00:30:00] So, I mean, if, depending on resources, like that’s, that’s a big one. So if you can, if you can’t afford it, then a bootcamp is, I mean, I’m very bad. Cause that’s the route that I went down, but it was an unbelievable experience for me. And it gives you your star in the tech world that gives you your initial network within the tech world.

[00:30:22] So a bootcamp is a very, very good option, but obviously it’s not cheap. So that’s, that’s a big one that could be a big sticking point, but then you’ve also got. Are there other boot camps out there and now we’ve deferred payments and things like Lambda school and stuff like that. I don’t have any personal experience with Lambda school myself, but kind of I’ve heard, I’ve heard good things and like that could, that could definitely be an option as well, but as far as self-teaching, so if you, if you were going down a getting taught route, then.

[00:30:54] Bootcamp would be an amazing investment. Like if you choose the right boot camp, [00:31:00] find the right boot camp for you, then that would be an incredible investment. You get to ask questions to teach teacher, you get your peers like working with you and helping move each other forward, which is just brilliant.

[00:31:11] So that if you can that would be an amazing route if you can’t and you’re going to self-taught route. Then actually I’ve got on front and mentor. There’s a list of resources on the resources page that I kind of recommend that a lot of my students have a general assembly kind of found useful.

[00:31:27] And I have also personally found useful. And the biggest one. As far as a website where the curriculum goes is free code camp. I mean, free code camp itself is just an absolutely unbelievable resource and there’s just so much value in that platform and you don’t have to pay a penny. So so that’s, that would be, if you’re going down a self-taught route and you want a structured curriculum, then a free code camp is just incredible.

[00:31:56] But then I would also say. As soon as you can [00:32:00] just start building projects as well. So, so free code camp with front-end mentor on the side, like getting your theory from free code camp and then going into front of mentor to, with the free challenges to build out your skills and kind of get that muscle memory going and everything.

[00:32:17] Like that’s, that’s a really, really good combination. And then. If you’re a, if you’re a front end developer, as soon as your confident, and as soon as you’re getting pretty comfortable with the HTML CSS and maybe Java script as well, but you really want to take it up a notch. I mean the platform that I always recommend, if you can afford a monthly payment to, to learn front end code is front-end masters.

[00:32:44] Like the quality of content on frontend masters is just. Like unparalleled, in my opinion, as far as as far as online learning goes the, you know, the workshops that they do on a range of subjects, it just so in-depth and just. [00:33:00] They blow my mind. Every time I go through one of their courses, I learned so much.

[00:33:02] So so yeah, those are, those are my recommendations. Like bootcamp. If you can just to get the support network, get your own little mini network with all of your classmates and things in tech, like I’m still in touch with a number of my classmates. And It’s just great to be able to call them and chat about code and all this kind of stuff.

[00:33:21] And to have that from day one is, is really, really invaluable. But if you’re going self-taught route, like you really can’t go wrong with free code camp and then mixing in front of mentor to, to build out. And then if you can do the monthly subscription fee on the learning side, then front end masters workshops are absolutely incredible as well.

[00:33:42] Rob Kendal: [00:33:42] Absolute golden nuggets of advice, peppered with just enough shameless plugs in there. That’s what we like to see. I love it. That’s how you, that’s, how you do the promotional material. I think people, I get really mixed feedback about boot camps, but I, I think they’re a great idea, but I don’t know if they’re one of those.

[00:34:00] [00:34:00] They’re they’re absolutely rubbish if you do nothing with them. I think because they are quite expensive because of the intensity of them. But like, if you’re not trying to leverage building a network, I’m not talking about just getting a black book of people you can use. But I mean, you know, you, so many opportunities I’ve had have been through knowing people and just being sort of very amiable and affable with people and you kind of build a network.

[00:34:21] I have a lot of people on LinkedIn just through, you know, just talking to them, every recruit that comes along. I don’t shun them. I just have a chat or I’m not looking right now, but let’s have a chat legend. Yeah. You know, I think when you asked that now, and it’s from an unrelated field, that networking aspect as well is so vital.

[00:34:36] And if you can, you know, if you’re paying for something like a boot camp, you might as well make a lot of connections while you’re there. And it’s great to hear that you’ve done one on this, you know, so many years on, you’re still kind of in touch with people from that that’s amazing. So I think. Yeah, for me from, from what I’ve seen of them and, and people on sec, check Twitter, I’ve come across.

[00:34:53] I think if you do nothing with them, they are a terrible investment, but then that’s the same with anything. If you buy Ferrari and just pocket and you guide, you never [00:35:00] use it, it’s going to be the worst car in the world. So, so yeah, that’s, Grund,

[00:35:03] Matt Studdert: [00:35:03] And also, I mean, there are, there are definitely, I mean, there was a proliferation of bootcamps, so there are, there will obviously be some boot camps where they’re kind of winging it and the curriculum isn’t quite up to scratch or anything like that. But if you go, if you do go with someone a company who’s.

[00:35:20] Been around, they’ve gone through a number of iterations of their, their curriculum and all this kind of stuff. You, you get out of it, what you put in. So if you’re going there with a very specific civic goal of becoming a developer, and then once you’re there, you’re working as hard as you can. You’re asking as many questions as you can.

[00:35:38] You’re getting as much support from the instructors and your peers and everyone as you can. And then you’re making use of like general assembly pride themselves on that. Hiring stats kind of after the course. And that’s because they, they want to help you get a job. And there’s a lot of people that don’t make use of the outcomes team.

[00:35:57] And, but they still want a job and it’s [00:36:00] like, well, you need to really be proactive with it. And obviously the outcomes team can only. Help you buy so much you have to want it yourself. So I completely agree that you, yeah, you sort of get out of it. What you put in and bootcamps can be an amazing mechanism to massively reduce the learning time.

[00:36:22] I mean, the fact that I went from hardly any code to a full-time developer in about four months, time was just reduced. Yes.

[00:36:33] Rob Kendal: [00:36:33] I think that speaks volumes as well about, you know, I mean, obviously a large part is in, in your approach and you’re all right to towards it. But I think you can’t overstate the importance of like a structured learning path. You know, I think it’s very easy to just go and get like 20 $10 Udemy courses and just have loads of like random web development things, you know, flung at you and see what sticks where that’s, why I was like about rightly what you said about free code camp, where it is a [00:37:00] very structured, you know, Do you want me to build by teachers, right.

[00:37:02] But that, you know, like a traditional structured curriculum where it takes you through things that build on top of each other. Cause you know, it makes sense to learn HTML first and then to style like HTML with the CSS and then to sprinkle the behavior in with JavaScript rather than just going, I’m going to learn, react as like your first thing as if it’s like the silver bullet.

[00:37:20] So, you know, having that structured approach that you get with three code camp or boot camp, you can’t, you can’t overstate the importance of it enough. I don’t think So we have come to the point in the show where anything else to plug any questions I haven’t asked that you have answers to.

[00:37:34] Matt Studdert: [00:37:34] I mean the, the big plug, it will be a massive shameless plug is for front end mentor pro, which is the pro subscription. So fundamental as a community, it’s a, it’s a freemium model basically, whereby like you can, you can come in and take the free challenges, anything like this, the free challenges.

[00:37:49] Come with JPEGs for the designs. But then if you’re really serious about things and you really want to see the detail and you want to build a unbelievable showstopper [00:38:00] portfolio, then you can take our premium challenges, which are like, some of them are four or five, six page websites with like a design system included in the download and all of this kind of stuff.

[00:38:11] And it’s. Basically as professional project as you’re ever going to get without it actually being a professional project. So yeah, fundamental pro if you want to build an unbelievable showstopper portfolio to impress the hiring managers, then that’s definitely a big shameless plug on my side. Yeah. So it’s 12, $12, $12 a month or $96 for a whole year.

[00:38:36] Rob Kendal: [00:38:36] cool. And for the English folk

[00:38:37] Matt Studdert: [00:38:37] Yeah, so it is same, same. So it’s 12, 12 pounds and then 96 pounds. Yeah. So 12 pounds per month or nine, six pounds.

[00:38:48] Rob Kendal: [00:38:48] For what you get. I mean, I, I’m not being paid a cent on this, so why don’t we keep talking to American country? I’m not being paid a penny for for, you know, for any of this. It was, it was a great [00:39:00] opportunity to have Matt on. He was kind of recommended by the community who obviously value what you do immensely.

[00:39:05] Just seeing how popular it is. It is a fantastic resource. And I just like to shout about stuff. That’s amazing, you know, regardless of any. Backhanders or otherwise yeah, I’m, I’m not, I’m not being paid a penny a recommended. It truly is a great resource and I’m going to be sending everyone there. You know, it is completely free for an amazing resource.

[00:39:22] So for the sake of, you know, 12 quid a month is nothing for the quality of what you get that kind of real world experience without actually having to. Flood your soul as an intern, you know, getting paid nothing or doing like volunteer stuff, which is what I did when I started, I wanted to get into it.

[00:39:36] I was good with it, but I had no qualification. So I went and just volunteered in a school for a bit. And then that got me a job. So, you know, without having to do that. So you’re still a part of it. It’s just like, is that near, near tutorial credit month it’s as near as damn it, you’re going to get to like a real genuine project.

[00:39:51] And I can attest to that. Having done enough of those, you get dumped a brief and a bunch of design things in the go. Here you go, monkey, make that into a front [00:40:00] end thing. So that’s amazing. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s been awesome to learn about that and what you, what you’re up to. I will put all the information in the show notes, links to front and mentor.

[00:40:08] You can find Matt at underscore, Matt Studdert on Twitter, do give them a follow up and follow front and mentor, which is, is that just at front-end mentor? Nice. There you go. Go and give it a shout and a follow up and excellent.

[00:40:21] Matt Studdert: [00:40:21] Thank you

Podcast microphone icon

About The Front End

The Front End Podcast explores the in's and out's of life as a developer. Covering topics such as modern-day development, learning and professional growth, frameworks, tools, techniques, UX/UI, and careers.

Created by Rob Kendal, a UI developer from Yorkshire.