In today’s market, just about every business and organization is taking advantage of the huge potential of the internet. Most businesses now have a website where they sell products, promote their brand or showcase a portfolio. So web developers are in increasing demand in the job market.
Web developers use programming languages and their conceptual know-how to build fully functional brand websites from scratch. In this article, we’ll take a look at the skills you'll need to become a web developer for a top tech company.
What Is a Web Developer?
A professional who uses programming skills to develop a website for a brand is known as a web developer. The website could be a single page of content or a multiple-page website with graphics, video, games or a range of applications. Web developers are adept programmers who build the core structure of the website upon which design and content will be integrated.
The complete process of developing a website takes place as per the client’s requirements. So a web developer will get instructions or a brief from the client, analyze the business model, and create a website that’s suited to their needs.
Difference Between a Web Designer and a Web Developer
Although web design and web development come under the same umbrella of maintaining and executing a website, the two roles differ in significant ways. Below is a brief guide to the difference between the two.
- Have an eye for design and more concerned with creativity and visual aesthetics.
- Integrate content and design on already-built websites.
- Use tools like Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver.
- Are proficient in programming languages and are technically strong with code.
- Build the core of websites.
- Have hands-on experience in HTML, CSS and PHP.
Web Development Process
Web development is not a one-step process. It is an iterative process that continues even after handing the project over to the client. To understand this complex process, let’s break it down into subsets.
1. Understanding the client
Understanding your client is the first step toward designing a website. Once you’ve met the client and received their brief, it’s worth taking the time to look at the entire business portfolio of the client. This will give you a broader sense of what the business is all about.
2. Competitor analysis
Go through the websites of your client’s competitors. Collect all the details you can and analyze their website models. This will give you an idea of where to start, how to proceed, and what value you can add.
3. Interpreting the customer’s perspective
The client’s customers will be the end-users of the website, so the product they access should be engaging and informative. Building a user-friendly website is not an easy task. It requires a lot from the developer’s side to understand a customer’s perspective. But this understanding is what underpins the insights needed to build a great website.
4. Agreeing on a deadline and sticking to it
The lead time required for building a website will vary from client to client. Building a complex website with a lot of applications and plugins will take a significant time investment. A web developer needs to be able to gauge the overall time taken to build the website, and should communicate these expectations to the client up front.
5. Assembling the right team
Web developers can’t build a fully-loaded website on their own. It takes a combined effort from the developer, content creator, UX/UI designer, graphic designer, and digital marketer. Each collaborator has to engage at the appropriate point in the timeline in order to deliver the project within the agreed schedule.
6. Review and maintenance
Once the website is launched, the web development company should provide back-end support to maintain the integrity of the website. A tech support team will be assigned to monitor it. A web developer should constantly cross-check with the team to ensure that the website is functioning according to the proposed plan.
Web Developer Skillset
Having the right skills and keeping them up to date is what makes a good web developer. It’s important to understand what the industry demands and make use of relevant pathways if you want to be successful.
We’ve put together a list below of the technical and non-technical skills required for the role of web developer. These are some of the most important attributes that hiring managers typically look for in a web developer. If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a web developer, it’s essential to work on each of the below skills to maximize your chances of getting hired.
1. Communication Skills
This is really the first checkpoint you need to cross to become a web developer. Technical skill can be acquired through study. But good written and verbal communication skills take time to develop. It’s this non-technical skill that will help you both in gaining customers’ confidence and in better team building. Your ability to communicate with clients can make or break a deal. So, good communication skills are what the recruiter will check first.
2. Thinking Outside of the Box
Clients need their websites to be original, have a unique interface, and cast the brand in a good light. So a web developer should put their best efforts toward building a website that’s true to the brand yet pushes it into new realms. A great website is a huge marketing asset, so web developers need to be able to think outside the box in order to fully leverage the brand’s digital presence.
3. Programming Skills
Programming skills are obviously essential to the role of web developer. HTML and CSS are the two main programming languages that a developer needs to know completely.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It’s the building blocks of a web page. HTML code allows a web developer to produce a digital document that can be modified using CSS to create the text we see on a website. If you’re an absolute newcomer to HTML, check out Thinkful’s HTML Tutorial for Beginners.
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s a programming language that takes input from HTML codes. CSS processes and transforms HTML codes into actual design, color, layout, and text. Check out Thinkful’s guide to CSS Bootcamps if you need to brush up on your CSS skills.
- Version Control:
As mentioned earlier, website building is an iterative process. In other words, the development process happens in stages, and each stage presents a different version of the website, with a unique design, layout, template, and text.
To maintain stability of these versions, open source software like Git is used, which helps to maintain each version and put through changes conveniently.
4. Responsive Design
Most users aren’t viewing websites purely through personal computers anymore. They’re browsing the web on smartphones or tablets too. So a website needs to look great on whatever device it’s being viewed through. This is called responsive design. Web developers need to utilize responsive design to ensure their sites are easy to use and look great on various devices.
5. Commitment to Deadline
Web developers have to be able to commit to set deadlines. They need to organize and manage teams in order to produce a finished product on time and under budget. If the project gets delayed and the website launch is postponed, it will affect the entire business plan of the client. So a web developer has to be able to keep an eye on the time and plan a schedule accordingly.
6. SEO Knowledge
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Most people don’t arrive at a website by typing the exact URL into their browser address bar. They rely on search engines like Google and Yahoo to find the site they’re looking after typing in keywords. Search engines use a variety of algorithms to rank websites based on these keywords. Some of the important metrics search engines focus on are:
- Responsive design
- Original content
- Loading speed of the page
- Meta tags and page description
SEO determines a website’s ranking within a search engine’s results. Web developers coordinate with digital marketing professionals to identify and execute content modifications in order to maintain the website’s ranking. Being on the first page of a search engine’s results greatly increases the visibility of the website and the chances of users clicking on it.
Become a Web Developer
As the internet reaches further into our everyday lives and becomes accessible to more and more people, businesses are focused on establishing their presence online. This has given rise to great opportunities for web developers who can help brands to maximize their digital potential.
Web development is an incredibly promising career path for the aspiring student. Having the right skills and putting them into practice will help you to scale great heights in your tech career. Want to find out how you can be a part of this exciting field? Find out everything you need to know about web development career paths.