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New Poll: What one specific skill set are you most jealous of?

Published by Chris Coyier

Rather than ask you what you are already good at, I thought it would be interesting to ask you what do you wish you were good at.

I just picked ten skill sets that all have to do with the web/tech world:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Knowing / Practicing the Law
  • Back End Development
  • Front End Development
  • Video / Audio Production
  • Database Administration
  • Server Management
  • Writing / Copywriting
  • Visual / Interaction Design

If you had to just pick one of those that you most wish you were good at (and aren't now), what would it be? Which are you the most jealous of?

Vote in the poll widget in the sidebar (large screen) or further down the ol' tube (small screen).

If you have one that isn't on the list, feel free to share in the comments. But in the interest of a fair data set, we'll leave the poll how it is.


  1. Permalink to comment#

    Social skills is what I’d pick. Not directly related to web or tech, but it would help me a lot with networking and such (meeting people, doing talks, etc.)

  2. Halley Carleton
    Permalink to comment#

    My number one desired skill would be “Soft Skills”, or general communication, relationship building, etc… skills. I work by myself too much, so I’m not socialized in a work setting.

    On the poll I chose Management.

    • Masked Coder
      Permalink to comment#

      +1 (For both you and Senff)

      Soft skills are extremely important, especially for introverted computer guys. Further, I have heard it reported [citation needed, I know] that a lack of soft skills is the #1 reason that people get fired in the general workforce.

      Arguably, a novice who is willing to learn and has soft skills is far more employable than a genius with years of experience but is a jerk. (To be accurate, the genius might get hired, but the novice will stay hired)

      Of course, the reason Chris didn’t include soft skills is that he assumes we already have them ; )

  3. The big one that’s missing for me is client/account management. I’ve been lucky enough to work with folks who are truly gifted in that regard, and I’m always envious!

    • For voting, I’d just go with “management”. I was thinking “hmmm project management, product management… I’ll just put management since they are different but related.”

  4. Permalink to comment#

    typig, I wish i could type accurately and fast.

    and what has law go to do with anything? Never worry about that.

    • Christopher
      Permalink to comment#

      Law has a quite varied scope in web-dev, I took over from a guy who didn’t seem to understand copyright ownership of images for use on a commercial site. We have also had to clearly explain to some companies we work with directly on projects, especially those in neighboring countries, that we can’t obtain and retain any amount of information we want to on customers, even if they consent. There are strict laws pertaining to data, specifically personal data, in place throughout the globe.

      But you were probably just being sarcastic :)

  5. Zeke Y
    Permalink to comment#

    Definitely back-end development.

  6. Wilhelm Wanecek
    Permalink to comment#

    Even though it’s not really web related, (realistic) 3d and motion graphics would be so cool to know. :)

  7. Eloise
    Permalink to comment#

    I know I’ll never be a marketing person and don’t really want to be. I have an interest in Video production but no skills so that’s what I picked. But the group I work with, if my partner got arrested (he recently had fantasies about killing his mother) all the work would dry up because he’s the conduit to the clients because he has much better skills for relating to clients than me. (I’ve been known to be overtly sarcastic to them.)

    So social skills, client wrangling skills, not tech skills would really be where I’d go too.

    • Permalink to comment#

      No offence intended with this Eloise, but am I the only one here who finds this ironic? The person you’re relying on to be good with clients is also someone you’re worried about going to jail because he fantasizes about killing his mother?

      At any rate you’re not alone there; at least not on the being sarcastic to clients. It’s only ok when the client isn’t smart enough to pick up on it though ;-)

  8. Permalink to comment#

    I selected marketing but really sales is the skill best desired. Being able to sell stuff to people is a must if you want to run your own business.

    • Same for me. I have trouble selling warm beef with gravy to a hungry dog.

      Even if I’m not trying to run my own business, job hunting in any field is a sales job. Gotta know how to sell!

  9. Want to select all of them.

  10. Doesn’t “back-end” encompass several of these?

    • I think of back-end as a server-side language coder. You might write code that interacts with a database but you’re not exactly a database administrator. Perhaps it’s confusing to some, but in my experiences there are lots of folks who just straight up write a bunch of rails/python/php/node whatever all day and consider themselves “back-end devs”

    • Bradley Staples
      Permalink to comment#

      It does.

      But it’s the same as how Chris has ‘Front End’ listed, when that can be: layout (responsive design, progressive enhancement, etc), performance, heavy app-like JS, JS games & animations, unit testing & feature testing via things like headless webkit, etc. Nearly everyone who works in the Front End has at least one spot in that list they aren’t good at (and could choose for a poll like this).

      I’ve known some people who could only do basic layout and were called Front End, but the ones I’ve worked with personally (and how I identify myself) have had to do pretty much everything I listed above except animation.

  11. Bradley Staples
    Permalink to comment#

    Almost wish this poll was two parts – one to select what your primary roll is, and the second to vote on what you’d like to become.

    I can easily see more traditional CS guys wanting to do Front End/Design, and more Designers/Front End guys wanting to go Back End (which for startups, especially, can include the Database and Servers/DevOps teams)

  12. Shefali
    Permalink to comment#

    Writing – it is a skill that can be used in any industry.

  13. alaa
    Permalink to comment#

    i wish i have the skill of management. i really need it.

  14. David
    Permalink to comment#

    I wish I could write better. I admire people who can write clever, witty, copy. I always over think it.

  15. What i find interesting is that I’d bet most readers here are ‘front end’ guys. If you were to ask this same question to a group of ‘back end’ guys, it would probably be the complete opposite of results……maybe?!

    I guess my observation is that grass is always greener on the other side, or don’t take what you are good at for granted, as someone else is looking at you jealous.

    I do think these things are very specific to what we do (as front-end-ish web nerds)….Personally I’d pick some broader skills like ‘inspiring’, ‘motivating’, ‘influential’. I find it easy to be nerdy, techie, etc., but much more difficult to use that to inspire…

    • I’m not so sure about that, Zeek. I don’t really know any back-enders that have much interest in design. The ones I do know get as much satisfaction out of debugging their code until it operates flawlessly as I do when I create something that’s visually appealing. Their minds work differently than mine, and although I’ll always be a front-ender, I do feel a little envious when I’m left feeling sorta clueless concerning what they do.

    • This discussion interests me, since I’m neither front nor back end, but came to the web in the 90s when there wasn’t much distinction, but now for a good future career, it does matter. As a “physicist/artist” with a lot of SW experience, I suppose I already have one foot in each camp. I need to get two feet in one camp. What motiviates others, how their minds work… I see myself as more Front End now.

  16. Mikołaj
    Permalink to comment#

    So many wannabe backend developers! Actually I’m more backend than frontend guy and what brought me to css-tricks is will to get better at design and frontend related stuff :)

    • Awesome point! It would be neat to see a breakdown of FE vs BE folks who are responding to the survey.

    • Aside from who is wanting to be BE, just why is it so appealing? What do people have in mind when they say they want to learn back end? What is keeping them from juming in?

  17. Permalink to comment#

    Visual / Interaction Design

  18. Permalink to comment#

    I’ll go with “Writing / Copywriting”

    Not exactly interested in audio/visual production.

  19. Video/Audio Production was my first thought, always wanted to learn about those things, but I decided to focus on Web Design.

    So I picked Back End Development, you guys amaze me with that awesome Voodoo stuff you do, lol.

  20. Permalink to comment#


  21. __
    Permalink to comment#

    Too bad it’s not a poll about which skill set I wish I didn’t have to worry about. Marketing, all the way.

  22. Permalink to comment#

    I voted for “Visual/Interaction Design”. I know a little about what it takes to design something, and it is what I’m currently going to school for, but I’d always like to aspire to be a better and better designer. Sometimes I look at what other people are designing, and am just like “Wow, maybe I’ll never be that good.” But hey, that’s the drive to keep getting better, right?

  23. Permalink to comment#

    Marketing, marketing, marketing. After nearly 20 years of marketing some days I still feel like I’m rubbish at it. And of course when you have your own companies that is the one skill you need to be good at. Even if you hire, you’ve still got to start the marketing and have the ideas. You’ve got to do this before you hire so you can AFFORD to hire.

  24. Danny
    Permalink to comment#

    Saw the headline and couldn’t wait to say “Bash and Vim!” (I’m ok, but the guys who rock it make me feel like a total n00b)

    Guessing the appropriate bucket is Server Mgmt, though I feel its a level-up skill in many of the categories.

    P.S. There’s a lot of ground covered in these choices! I believe in a specialized skillset. If you are setting out to be a full-stack dev, a marketing guy and in-house legal council, you’ll most likely be below average (at best) at any one of those jobs.

    Exception: early startups where everyone is responsible for everything.

    > “Marketing? We don’t need no stinking marketing!”

  25. I am both amazed and saddened by how few people chose marketing. Marketing is, eventually, what makes you money.

    I see a lot of highly skillful programmers who never succeed because they can’t market themselves, and that includes employees, freelancers or business owners.

    The ability to market yourself is invaluable, more so than any technical skill in my opinion.

  26. Eloise
    Permalink to comment#

    The thing that would go with this vote of course would be how many of the skills do you think you’ve already got and how many aren’t you interested in?

    For example, I didn’t vote for writing and copywriting because I already write pretty well. There are certainly people who write better and make a living solely from that skill but it’s something I can do OK.

  27. Paul Lambert
    Permalink to comment#


  28. Permalink to comment#

    Management , Server Management, and Writing / Copywriting … I wish I could perfect those

  29. Homam
    Permalink to comment#

    I wish I was good at marketing. Any other thing comes after this. Managemnet, Design, Development, …
    Every day I see people that just jumped in this industry and LoL got a big score on a job or just made big names around using stolen templates and just even cant tell what is HTML, CSS or Javascript.

  30. Permalink to comment#

    As someone who’s a front-end developer, I wish I knew more about back-end development. I am getting there however! Other than that I’m a rather closed person so I’d be happy to grow some social skills.

  31. Permalink to comment#

    I think it would be interesting to also capture where each participant is strong. For example, I may be envious of visual design and I’m a server admin. How many of these are similar (i.e. back-end developer -> database admin) and how many are different (i.e. server manager -> knowing the law)?

  32. Andrew
    Permalink to comment#

    Mine would be graphic design. I chose “Visual / Interaction Design” since I felt that was closest, but Visual/Graphic design is VERY different from Interaction design. Not sure why those were put together.

    • I get your point, but this being the web you really can’t separate the two. Being a great graphic designer who doesn’t understand interaction really limits you.

      I work with several really talented graphic designers who are still totally locked into the mindset of print. They expend much more energy trying to make the web into a print medium than it would take to learn the basic skills of front-end dev or at least become familiar enough with web technology to take advantage of the creative possibilities of interactivity. And they are quickly becoming irrelevant.

  33. leo rapirap
    Permalink to comment#

    I want to be good at Server Management :)

  34. I wish there had been an option for entrepreneurship.

    I’m always amazed by the people who can make a living from blogging, free-lancing and lecturing. It seems like that’s where real innovation comes from. Yeah that’s marketing, but it’s also writing, client management and business management (the Real Back-End) as well as being really good and creative at the technical stuff.

  35. werwfw
    Permalink to comment#

    Does anyone of you frontend dev still only do html, css and some jquery? I feel like in the last years everyone has become a backend developer of sorts since the aforementioned skills are not enough anymore in most cases.

  36. Permalink to comment#

    I do mostly back-end development (system architecture, working with various different API’s, a little work with servers, etc). I’m learning Front End / UX development now – which seems to be a lot easier than it used to be with all the cool new toys we have out there. With that in mind if I could get better at anything on that list it would be Interaction Design.

    The reasoning being that back-end development mixed with a little front-end and interaction design experience would create a very well-rounded skill set and make me more qualified to take a lead / project management role on any number of diferent projects.

  37. Where’s the “All of the above” option? ;)

    I can seriously say that I want to continuously improve my skills in multiple areas, but then I think back-end is where I’ll be focusing shortly.

  38. Fran
    Permalink to comment#

    “Marketing” for me. I’d much rather sit and work at the computer than invest the time to go out and network to meet and engage new clients.

  39. Rudie
    Permalink to comment#

    Slightly off topic: Why are the poll results ordered differently than the poll form options (but not from hi to lo or reverse)?

    The result surprises me. Anyone can learn back-end, and front-end, and most. You can’t learn to be a GOOD designer.

  40. Permalink to comment#

    I posted that I was interested in back-end development specifically the use of tools such as node.js, gulp.js, etc. I really wish I could test these new frameworks on a dedicated server, however I already have a GoDaddy server though it does not support these tools. Are you aware of any free private servers that will allow you to utilize node.js etc?

    • Permalink to comment#

      You can use nodejs on your desktop computer, and since it’s Javascript it’s Front not Back-end, although it works fairly sweetly with a MangoDB database. It has an inbuilt server you can code-up using a couple of lines…

    • Kevin Nagurski
      Permalink to comment#

      Agreed, just download node and follow the tutorials. Node.js is a great next step for those who already are comfortable with JS and want to explore back-end development; instead of learning a new language, you’re only learning a new framework.

      @susan Node.js is definitely a back-end tool, regardless of the language it uses. It runs on the server, not the browser.

  41. Permalink to comment#

    I do apps, so I’m required to know at lest 10 language skills. My CSS is shoddy, although I’m a relatively successful designer in my regular day job (clothing designer), my Jquery is almost non-existent ( I do it but generally have to look most things up to check myself), my back-end is fairly strong but I think that coding is so attractive to me because I cannot, and will not ever know everything! That’s the beauty, one can never get bored, there’s always something new to learn. I love that I can make something out of nothing but a few words in a file.
    I’ve written a couple of books so writing isn’t really a problem(although I don’t think I’m very good). (I make my own videos so not that ….. for me, marketing would be my least specialized and most needed skill.

  42. Hmmm, this is really interesting actually.

    I am a full stack developer and i vote for management, cause i have seen people struggling to get other people in order.

    So far Back End Development seems to have the lead, which reminds me a theory that wants it to be the most wanted skill set on tech jobs.

    This poll post requires a good analysis post after.


  43. Josh
    Permalink to comment#

    I chose “Back End”. I’m pretty good with people and management, but I’m always frustrated sometimes if we need to hit a deadline and we can’t because we just don’t have enough manpower and I can’t just roll up my sleeves and work on the back end stuff. I always work with the front end of the site and I just don’t see myself ever having the time to learn the back end properly.

  44. I wish I were good already in Back End Development. But I’m working on it though. ;)

  45. Curious to know why Visual and Interaction Design are “hot” in this poll. What is appealing about these to people not already doing this?

    Is it a desire for the joy of making visual things, splashing around in colors, fitting shapes together in handsome ways? For the challenge of doing great work with high public visibility? For doing things the right way yourself instead of explaining to a dimwit graphic artist how you want things to work?

    I can guess other reasons, but reality = you telling us your actual reasons to desire visual/interaction skills.

  46. I would rate myself as a 5 on your previous CSS pole. But I am not a masterful front end dev because I do not have the same comfort level with JS that I do with HTML and CSS and that concerns me greatly in today’s world of backbones, nodes and angulars :/

  47. Tough one. I have a feeling that I’m going to be in the minority by choosing legal skills. I’m a front-end guy though, and I already have some design and some backend skills, but very little knowledge of legal matters. In the startup world it’d be really useful to have more legal prowess, so that’s why I chose that way.

  48. If you are good in Marketing and Management, you can get the right people on each of the other skills to build a solid team.

    But I still believe Management is the biggest point, because if you are good at everything on the list, but you can’t manage yourself, you’ll never accomplish anything.

  49. Gytis
    Permalink to comment#

    I guess this more oriented towards front-end developers. Myself being a ‘junior’ back-end developer, I didn’t the the option I was looking. The biggest skill that am I jealous of (looking at senior developers) is writing architecturally correct/nice/ structured code. It’s hard to get the patterns right when you’re just getting into delepoment, and wririting nice code from the beginning can be quite challenging (often turns into spaghetti code haha).

    • Kevin Nagurski
      Permalink to comment#

      For a lot of languages, the best place to start is to look for established coding standards. I’m a PHP developer of about 13 years experience and I found the quality of what I made vastly improved when I adopted the PSR1 & PSR2 standards.

      The next step is to have a look at the patterns used in the big frameworks.

  50. Permalink to comment#

    Social Skills; Talking to clients is quite a challenge…

  51. Rab Simpson
    Permalink to comment#

    For one which isn’t on the list, iOS/Android app development. It’s not really a competency issue but a time issue.

  52. Permalink to comment#

    I want to improve them all, but mainly writing skills.

  53. Brandon
    Permalink to comment#

    I would love to be better at UI/UX design (what I’m interpreting to be visual/interaction design). I am convinced there is a creative gene that some people just…possess when it comes to the whole visual experience.

  54. Mark Ayers
    Permalink to comment#

    Front end developers (css-tricks’ target audience) are envious of back end developers who would have guessed? Betcha the reverse is true too.

  55. Rob Morris
    Permalink to comment#

    So many Back End wannabes! I’m in the same boat, my front end skills have blossomed due to your amazing website Chris! Maybe you should team up with a Back end dev and get busy on a ‘spin off’ site for back end code! Just an idea, I’d be tuned in!

  56. Kevin Nagurski
    Permalink to comment#

    I come from a back-end environment, but have always tried to keep my front-end skills up, but I’m envious of those who get to focus in that area. For me, the back-end is a much slower moving field that I have a good grasp of and can easily be productive in, but front-end development is a constantly shifting target. It’s sexier and you get a lot more credit for making the drop shadow on that button just right, rather than a well crafted and efficient SQL query.

  57. Permalink to comment#

    For me, marketing and video/audio production are two skills that make me feel jealous. I see awesome videos and I think that I am too useless as I can’t do the same thing.

  58. Lakshmanakumar Loganathan
    Permalink to comment#

    Web is made of UI. I am jealous on Front End Development and developer who creates wonderful web pages.

  59. ajaniashish
    Permalink to comment#

    Content writing and copywriting is sometime reason for my sleepless nights. I can complete the website with whatever features needed but can not write an article or content for one page on my own with that concentration. Trying hard on it all the time.

  60. Mike L.
    Permalink to comment#

    I want to learn things all at once, and I end up overwhelming myself with a glut of information. “Do it this way. No, do it that way”. Ahhhh, so much data. So I’ll go with management as my short-suit. I know front-end and back-end, but I wouldn’t call myself a SME. I tend to bookmark, pinterest, wookmark, post-it note it, what have you, on great resources, but I need to cull the herd and have better focus.

  61. Permalink to comment#

    As many have already said I would choose social skills as well as front-end development. I don’t think you can ever stop improving your social skills and it’s a huge advantage with clients. My front-end development could also use some work but that’s why there are great sites like css-tricks out there :)

  62. Permalink to comment#

    Weird but true: you actually mean ‘envious’ rather than ‘jealous’. Someone told me about this once and I read up on it because I didn’t believe them, but you can only be jealous of something that you already have, and don’t want others to enjoy. Wanting something that others have is envy. Great one to know as you can bring it up in conversation for the rest of your life and seem like a pedantic idiot.

    • daniel
      Permalink to comment#

      THANK YOU!.
      I was actually looking for grammar on the list, specifically, the ability to discern between jealousy and envy

  63. Mike
    Permalink to comment#

    I think this poll is a sly attempt to uncover the suspected notion that backend developers get more respect than front-end developers. The other options are just mixed in to fill space ;).

  64. Permalink to comment#

    What an interesting poll! This is awesome.
    I kind of figured it must be mostly front-end devs that visit this website (like me) and I voted back-end development. When I saw most of the other voters had too, it kind of makes me happy :)

  65. Codewyn
    Permalink to comment#

    Designers want to be developers, developers want to be designers. And the world goes round, and round, and round…

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