Become a web developer

Technology is a huge part of our day to day lives. Seriously. Think about how much of your life is controlled by your smart phone, alone. From navigation to communication to shopping, we use internet technology for everything.

Every app, website, or piece of online software we use was built by a web developer. The digital world of a web developer can sound a little complicated, but it’s not as bad as it seems. Just like any other job, someone who wants to become a web developer simply has to have a solid foundation upon which to build.

What does a Web Developer Do?

Web developers are responsible for creating and maintaining websites and applications using a variety of programming languages and technology. Developers blend the creative vision of the designer with their technical expertise to create a website. They take care of everything from the functionality of the site to ensuring it’s security. Since there’s so much technical knowledge required to build a website, web developer certifications usually focus on one of two areas.

Front-End Web Developers

Front end developers bring the web designer’s vision to life by building the exterior look and feel of the website. Essentially, front-end developers turn back-end data into something the user can interact with and understand. A few more front-end web developer requirements are an ability to:

  • Ensure the mobile responsiveness of a website
  • Understand and utilize SEO basics and best practices
  • Develop tools to improve user experience

Back-End Web Developers

Back-end developers are concerned with everything behind the scenes. They focus on building and maintaining the tech required to power the front end – namely the server, application, and database.

Backend developers are also responsible for:

  • Creating and managing databases
  • Developing and utilizing content management systems
  • Testing and debugging backend elements  

Full Stack Web Developers 

Full stack developers are experts in both front- and back-end development. They’re in high demand, as they tend to be well versed in business practices and user experience, making them a valuable asset to any team. Most full stack developers have worked in the industry for years, having gained experience and knowledge in a variety of roles.

How to Become a Web Developer

There’s no specific web developer degree or educational path required to become a web developer. In fact, it’s not even required that you have a formal web developer education in order to work in the web development field.

There are several options aside from formal education to help you learn how to become a web developer. Programs and coding boot camps such as CodeAcademy and App Academy are kind of like “web developer schools.” They provide web development training and teach the coding skills needed to pursue specific career opportunities.

Additionally, those hoping to learn web development should have a working knowledge of common programming languages, libraries, and frameworks in addition to common technology. Career Foundry has a list of 50 web development buzzwords all new programmers should learn.  

Web Developer Skills Needed

While web developer job requirements can be flexible and a formal education isn’t a must, a set of specific skills is. Here are the basics of what is needed to be a web developer. This is what you’ll want a grasp before you begin your development career.

Programming Languages

A programming language is basically a set of commands that tells the computer what to do. High level languages use logic and symbols, making them relatively easy for humans to read and comprehend. Low level languages such as machine code are those directly recognizable by computer. Which language(s) or framework(s) a developer specializes in is dependent upon their career track and/or specialty.

  • HTML – Hypertext markup language is the foundational element of the internet, and it is used to specify the formatting of a text file. Basically, HTML determines what the text on a website looks like.
  • CSS – Cascading style sheet languages are created to style documents written in markup languages. This includes things like color, font, borders, etc. CSS can also be used to optimize for responsive design, telling the computer to adapt what the screen looks like based on the device used.
  • JavaScript – JavaScript is a text-based language that builds off other basic programing languages. It is required to create interactive, dynamic web pages and apps. Actions such as real-time communication and loading emails all rely on JavaScript.

Responsive Web Design

Today’s web design must be mobile-responsive, if not mobile first. For this reason, responsive web design skills are a must for today’s developers.

Version Control

When building a site, it’s important to understand and manage its progress. Version control software allows developers to track changes in their code over time. Git is currently the most popular version control tool available.

Browser Development Tools

Each web browser is a little bit different. Developers should have an understanding of how pages are rendered in a particular browser so that they can maintain functionality and improve performance.

Libraries and Frameworks

These are set of prewritten code which can be used to help developers reach the same end goal without having to write quite so much code to get there. Libraries contain a collection of useful code that can be accessed at any time. They are smaller and more job-specific than frameworks. A framework contains pre-made tools and components that help a developer write code faster. Popular frameworks include Bootstrap and Rails.

Database Languages

Database languages are used to build and manage – you guessed it – databases. Databases don’t understand the same languages that websites and apps are programmed with. Structured Query Language (SQL) is an example of a standard language used to access data in databases.

Related Careers

While in your pursuit of a web development career you may come across some additional paths. Each of the careers below reflects a specific type of developer or someone who works closely with web developers. They may be something you’re interested in now, or find yourself working toward in the future.

UX Designer

User experience (UX) design aims to understand and optimize the way a website or app is experienced by the end user. These designers must be competent in analytics and understanding human behavior and expectation, as well as possess basic design and development skills.

Mobile App Developer

Mobile application development is a hot career path at the moment. New companies and products are showing up in the market every day, and it’s expected that these companies will have an effective mobile first strategy at the least, and an easy-to-use mobile app at best.

Web Administrator

One of the oldest known roles in the tech sector is a Web Administrator. These professionals have experience with internet protocols and technology, and they usually work to manage internal and external web-based technology for a single corporation.

Information Architect

Information architects focus on the organization of a website and how efficiently and effectively information can be accessed. The architects create the structure and navigation functionality of a site.

Database Developer

Collecting and analyzing data is important for any business using web technology. Database developers create back-end workflows and integrations to help capture data which will help drive decisions down the line.

You Don’t Have to Become a Web Developer to Create a Fantastic Website or App

You don’t need to know how to be a web developer to get your project off the ground. You can let us take care of that for you. Hungry Media has been in the digital creation space for years. Our experienced team of designers and developers will help make your vision a reality.

Our unique approach allows us to dig deep and really understand what you’re looking for before we start building your dream website or app. We’ve worked with companies and brands in all sectors and across many industries. We can’t wait to hear about your idea. Contact us today to get started!

contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer