Top 10 Challenges for Web2 Developers Entering Web3

A look at some of the top challenges for Web2 developers entering Web3 and tips for how to overcome them.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2023 at 6:53 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 8, 2023 at 9:39 p.m. UTC

Like many emerging technologies, there’s a growing need for developers to build out Web3. For traditional Web2 developers, this could be an exciting opportunity to learn a new skill and advance in your career.

Web3 developers have the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with the web, but the path to becoming one isn’t always easy. In this article, we’ll look at some of the top challenges for Web2 developers entering Web3 and how to overcome them.

1. Shifting to a Web3 mindset

Building Web3 requires a paradigm shift when it comes to how you think of the internet. Web3 is best understood as the “read/write/own” phase of the internet. In a user-owned version of the internet, data is retained by users, who can move their “profiles” interoperably across different platforms. Web3 developers build user-owned projects that favor community governance over corporate governance structures.

2. Understanding smart contracts

For Web2 developers, understanding and learning to work with smart contracts can be an initial hurdle to entering Web3. Smart contracts are tools that automatically execute transactions if certain conditions are met without requiring the help of an intermediary company or entity. Smart contracts are immutable, and data sent and stored on smart contracts can’t be erased.

3. Forgetting personal data

In Web2, personal data is often controlled by major tech companies and used to identify users, modify experiences and sell ads. In Web3, personal data is controlled by the user. Particularly in the area of decentralized finance (DeFi) and Web3 payment apps, developers can initially struggle with working in an environment that doesn’t utilize personal data. Instead, developers need to be accustomed to only using on-chain and wallet-based information to build solutions.

4. Learning Web3 coding languages

While front-end developers will likely find familiar programming languages in Web3, the nature of blockchains has resulted in the rise of Web3-specific languages for protocols and smart contracts. Languages such as Solidity and Rust are high-level, object-oriented programming languages that are Turing-complete and are compiled rather than interpreted. Although it may be initially difficult to pick up new languages, learning Solidity or Rust will open a wide range of opportunities for developers looking to work in Web3 development.

5. Building open source

If you’re developing for a Web3 project, you’re most likely building in an open-source environment. Web3 developers should have a strong understanding of working in Github and using communication tools for decentralized teams like Discord. Because open-source projects are designed to provide free access for everyone, it’s important to also follow best practices for commenting and documentation. Additionally, it’s important to consider that open-source code is also available to bad actors, so potential vulnerabilities should be monitored.

6. Keeping up with rapidly emerging technology

With Web3 innovation continuing to move at a rapid pace, keeping up with developments can help you stay ahead of the game. Staying up to date with crypto news, following online forum discussions and actively participating in governance can help you avoid being left behind as a Web3 developer.

7. Planning for interoperability

While you may design a Web2 app for mobile or desktop users the user’s access to the project will be the same, regardless of how it is formatted. In the current stage of Web3, however, projects need to decide which blockchain best works for a project and build from there. With a wide range of public, smart contract-enabled blockchains on the market today, Web3 developers should understand their differences and think about how to best bring a project to a wider audience. Whether it’s building for Ethereum, EVM-compatible, or non-EVM blockchains, understanding and planning for interoperability can help develop a Web3 mindset for a more open and connected internet.

8. Building in public

Building in public requires developers to become comfortable with sharing their code and ideas with the world. While many Web2 developers are more familiar with working alongside a small team, Web3 development is borderless and requires communicating your ideas potentially across the world. Web3 developers should be comfortable reaching out to mentors and working with a developer community to get feedback and support.

9. Ignoring volatility

All markets have their ups and downs, and the crypto market is no exception. Volatility is common in the crypto market and should be expected as you enter into this space. However, it’s important to remember that your work is not tied to the price of any particular asset. Working, even despite market downturns, can set you up for long-term success. Following daily market movements will only add unneeded stress to your life and make it difficult to remain focused on building.

10. Telling your coworkers you’re moving to Web3

Finally, many have found it challenging to explain to coworkers and colleagues that they have left their Web2 job to go work in Web3. Web3 hasn’t quite reached mainstream adoption, and those who aren’t familiar may be surprised to hear you're leaving a traditional development role for one in Web3. The best way to overcome this hurdle is through education. To help those who are skeptical about crypto and Web3, it’s important to be able to explain the benefits of this new technology as well as potential risks. Through your journey into Web3 you can use the knowledge you’ve accumulated to help better educate those around you, and hopefully inspire the next round of developers to make the switch into Web3.

Explore Web3 programming in depth at Consensus 2023

Since 2015, Consensus has been the meeting place for blockchain developers to reconnect and forge the future of crypto and Web3. Join us at Consensus 2023 to visit Protocol Village, the dedicated meeting spot for founders, developers, token investors and users that features programming, working and networking.

Explore software developments and learn from each other’s successes, problems and experiences at the Protocol Village. The working and networking area offers computer stations for a live hack, whiteboards for coding/brainstorming and other resources for developers to put their work on display.


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Griffin Mcshane

Griffin McShane is a freelance writer for CoinDesk, currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Griffin has also written the Inside Crypto newsletter for Jason Calacanis' and is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

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