3.1. Generalist Skills: Technology

Learn how technology works

Overview

These skills are about understanding how technology works so you can work with engineers to build products. You do not need to learn how to code. There are some exceptions to this if you are managing a highly technical product.

The Basics

Learn with Tools

We highly encourage you to learn with tools and small projects. Some of the more powerful tools out there expose the logic and behavior of basic technical elements. While not the same as coding, it will give you an intuitive sense for how some of the underlying machinery works. You’ll be able to communicate more clearly and have some fun building. Here's a few suggestions:

  • Front end basics: Build yourself a basic portfolio site using Webflow. Webflow also has some of the best intro videos out there explaining how front-end works while exposing common front-end logic in the product.
  • Displaying data: Build yourself a small data app using Airtable and Table2Site. This will help you get a sense for how a database works in relation to what you see on a site.
  • Back end basics: Try allowing for automatic submissions to your data app by creating a Google Form for new requests and automatically updating your app to include it using Zapier. This will give you a sense for how applications can programmatically talk to each other.
You’ll learn some technical intuition, pick up some industry tools, and stretch your product skills a little to make something - all for free.


Do *Some* Programming

While you do not need to learn how to code, we encourage you to try your hand at a few basics, just so you have an understanding of what it’s like.

  • Do some examples: try a few rounds on freecodecamp.org. There’s a great collection of lessons, each bite-sized to help you progress. It’s a great free resource with some excellent teaching.
  • Call an API: open up your terminal and try calling an API. Check out the data structure and play around with getting different data points.
  • Use an API: Try posting a new record to your data app using the Airtable API and repl.it.

Further Learning

Additional areas to dive deeper into:

  • Databases and SQL: learn how databases work and how to query them
  • APIs: learn how APIs work and how to call them
  • Tracking: learn how user tracking works and try implementing Google Analytics
  • Machine Learning: what is machine learning and how it can be used
  • Talk to engineers! Ask them to explain how things work.

Checklist

  • Be able to explain how a web app works at a high level
  • Try putting together a small project using tools
  • Try a few programming lessons to be able to read basic HTML/CSS
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