Designer Looking to get deeper into coding as Frontend-Dev

over 6 years ago from , Founder | Designer

I normally am a Designer and switched in the last years to Frontend-Dev. Now I'm thinking about founding my own startup and want to learn Backend-Development. Do you have any suggestions how to start this? I heard about Ruby on Rails and Python and all the possibilities but where I should start? Is plain PHP the best start to learn?

The startup idea isn't clear yet and that's why I struggle what to learn because it always depends on what you wanna build.

Thank you for your answers!


  • Jimmy Koli, over 6 years ago

    If you are interested in Startup, I think the most important thing you should learn is Marketing and sales. The thing with back end development is you can always outsource it, but you can't outsource sales. Just my 2 cents.

    4 points
    • , over 6 years ago

      Yeah that's a good point. How would you start building a prototype wihtout a budget? Learn by yourself or find an cofounder?

      0 points
      • Ege GörgülüEge Görgülü, over 6 years ago

        Just my 2 cents, you don't necessarily need to learn a whole language before building a prototype.

        In fact, it is almost certainly better to try validating your idea before building anything. That's the basic idea behind Lean startups.

        That said, I do see where you're coming from and if it comes down to it I'd suggest starting with a simpler back-end service/API such as Firebase to build prototypes first. It has a free plan, can scale without problems if you decide to stick to it, and it will be relatively much more secure than anything you can write yourself as a starting backend engineer.

        0 points
    • joe andersonjoe anderson, over 6 years ago

      I think you ultimately need to learn all, and it's worth the investment. Projects/startups require a lot of iteration. You're also in it for the long haul, so spending a few years learning all of these skills is worth it. The best way to learn is by building tiny projects and getting them out there. Then you'll start to meet other like minded people to team up with.

      0 points
  • Jack HallahanJack Hallahan, over 6 years ago

    Not a back-end dev but I always learn best by trying to build things.

    In terms of language, Python and Ruby are both pretty safe choices I think but if you're a front-end dev already then why not Nodejs? Javascript everywhere.

    3 points
    • , over 6 years ago

      Also thought about that but struggled to choose which framework. Reactjs or angular and so on. Pretty difficult to fix to one if there is so much options.

      0 points
      • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, over 6 years ago

        I would second the Node.js recommendation if you're already pretty comfortable with Javascript. If you're building APIs to feed data to your front-end (no matter which framework you choose: Vue.js, React, Angular, etc.), then Express is a great place to start.

        Vue.js (and others) are now starting to offer server-side rendering, where you can essentially use the same exact front-end code for your components as you are on the back-end for initial rendering. In other words: no need for Jade/Pug or other templating engines when you can simply use Vue/React/Angular's templating engine interchangeably on the front and back-ends.

        2 points
      • Alec LomasAlec Lomas, over 6 years ago

        Next.js is a good option for creating server-rendered sites in React.

        0 points
      • joe andersonjoe anderson, over 6 years ago

        You just have to choose 1 and stick with it. Later on it will be easy to switch. Personally I would choose the one with the most momentum/community behind it these days. So that's ReactJS (but this is still frontend). As far as backend goes, NodeJS/Ruby on rails is up to you. I started with Ruby on rails, if I had to do it again today alone, I'd probably go with NodeJS.

        0 points
  • Peter Vogt, over 6 years ago

    I have worked in many startups and worked as a designer/advisor for a pretty big VC. I've seen startups succeed, but more often (and more spectacularly) fail. So there are my credentials, should you choose to acknowledge them.

    In my opinion, you are starting backward. You need to figure out what you want to build first, and let the rest come later. In my opinion, you should find a partner who is a back-end developer to join forces with. It's so important when building a startup to find people who offset the things you are not good at. That isn't to say you can't become good at something new - but it sounds like you started as a designer and moved to front-end development over the last few years. Well, that's a really rock solid foundation for a design/front-end founder. You can partner with someone rock solid on the important backend development pieces like API work, payment processing, etc. It's better for you to find a killer idea that you are passionate about building and then figure out the skills. Maybe your back-end partner is a RoR person with years worth of chops that they can teach you as you build together. And in the end, the customer benefits from having experienced people on both the client and server sides of your software.

    My two cents.

    1 point
  • Andrew Valish, over 6 years ago

    I went through a similar situation ~5 years ago; I've started out as a designer and visual-layer frontend dev then needed to transition into backend work after not finding a (cheap-enough) programmer when building my first startup. Not only is it helpful from a prototype-development perspective to learn some backend yourself, it's also a good idea to get some sense of what's involved to have better language when coordinating with your dedicated backend devs when the time comes.

    I knew a lot of css and some javascript at the time, so I dedicated myself to learning a frontend framework (backbone at the time, I'd probably learn React or Ember nowadays) and used dummy data that imitated a backend, then moved onto Ruby on Rails.

    I recommend Ruby on Rails not only for its robustness and community, but mostly since I believe it's a good primer for a lot of modern web-based backend work, including building and communicating with databases and working in the terminal and command line. Rails is applicable to most startup scenarios, way better than any PHP framework (that I've used, Laravel might be helpful to look at if considering PHP) and has a better web ecosystem than Python frameworks (Flask is nice, but is not as streamlined).

    I leveraged Lynda tutorials and CodeSchool's Rails for Zombies course for getting past the learning curve, and RailsCasts for specific scenarios. I took a lot of hand-written notes and really tried understanding the concept of MVC frameworks, but after about ~6-8 months I had a solid enough understanding to drive the first iteration of our product.

    1 point
  • Samantha ZhangSamantha Zhang, over 6 years ago

    If you have experience in Javascript, I think Javascript backend libraries could be the best place to start.

    Personally I really like Parse.js and Backbone.js. It's very easy to learn and get started. Perfect for prototyping and validating your startup ideas. I got very excited when I found Parse.js and wrote an entire tutorial for it: https://code.tutsplus.com/series/building-your-blog-with-parsejs--cms-651

    And this is an MVP stage product I made with Parse: http://premade.io/#/new

    If you want to be more future-proof, Node.js could also be great. But fair warning, the MERN stack learning curve is steep.

    0 points
  • Tony Jones, over 6 years ago

    Ruby on Rails my top recommendation by far for startups. You can build anything. (chat apps, airbnb, search engines, uber, APIs, etc). Once whatever you build is done, I'd change out the front-end using ReactJS. So Rails for the Models and Controllers and react for the Views. It's very opinionated way to code, so it also takes out the decision fatigue that comes with a newer frameworks.

    0 points
  • Tyler RenfroTyler Renfro, over 6 years ago

    Definitely interested in this. I feel the same being a designer/front-end dev wanting to jump into back-end.

    0 points