Interested in becoming a web developer but not sure where to start? You’ve landed in the right place.
Before you begin, it’s important to have an awareness of the field, the different types of web development, the skills required, and how to get started. This article provides a snapshot of web development for beginners and offers some guidance on how to begin—and eventually excel—in the field of web development.
What Is Web Development?
Types of Web Developers
The role of a web developer depends upon their focus area. There are generally three types of web developers:
- Back-end developers – Back-end developers are responsible for the website components that users don’t see. They create the backbone of the web application. Back-end developers create the code to handle the user’s input. Back-end development makes the front end possible. Server, application, and databases are included in the back end.
- Full-stack developers – This role is a combination of front-end and back-end development. Full-stack developers handle databases and also work with clients, especially in the planning phase. Many companies these days want to hire web developers who can deal with all aspects of a website.
Skills Required to Become a Web Developer
Below is a guide to the key skills and tools to master if you want to become a successful web developer.
HTML – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) forms the basic building blocks of a website. As a web developer, you’ll need to understand HTML code and use it to create page elements. Headers, text, images, layouts, tables, and forms are all created with HTML. Web browsers read HTML documents and convert them into the visual page you see when accessing a site.
'CSS – Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is used to apply styles and formatting rules to HTML code. If you’re serious about becoming a web developer, you’ll need to master CSS. The big advantage of CSS is that it allows you to quickly update, tweak, and change styles across the whole site. Without CSS you'd have to individually update the HTML code of every single page. You can control colors, fonts, spacing, backgrounds, and lots more with CSS.
SQL – SQL stands for Structured Query Language, which is considered the standard language for communicating with and managing databases. Knowledge of SQL is a requirement for back-end tasks.
Responsive design – Websites are accessed from various devices these days, like phones, tablets, computers, and laptops. Responsive design ensures that your website pages adjust appropriately to each device. It’s a crucial skill for front-end development and ensures a good user experience. For example, if a user is accessing your site from a smartphone and has to zoom in to read the text, it can be frustrating and leave a negative impression. Responsive design would automatically increase the font size for mobile viewers.
Analytical skills – It’s important to remember that web development is about marketing too. As a web developer, you’ll need to build your understanding of diverse consumer needs. Your design, coding, and development skills will need to evolve alongside changing consumer demands. Using Google Analytics, you can track website visitors and learn valuable information. For example, you might notice an above-average bounce rate from a particular page. This could indicate the page has a design flaw that is causing users to become frustrated and leave.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the process of boosting a website’s ranking in the search results. By doing so, you’ll receive more traffic and ultimately make more sales. SEO is a specialized field in its own right, but as a web developer you’ll benefit from understanding the basics. You’ll mainly be concerned with on-page SEO. This includes adding relevant keywords to your text, ensuring the site is easily accessible, structuring the site with friendly URLs, and writing appropriate meta data.
Debugging – A web developer needs to be able to find bugs and errors in code and then be able to fix them. However tedious it might seem, this is an important part of the role.
Graphic design – Although not a necessity, some basic knowledge of graphic design will definitely be an advantage. Familiarizing yourself with the common graphic design tools like Zeplin, Photoshop, Sketch, Invision, and Figma will help you to collaborate with other fields and create beautiful websites.
Once you acquire the skills above, you can continue to improve your abilities by practicing code and working on your interpersonal skills.
Tools for Learning Web Development
Resources and technologies available today have made the process of learning web development and pursuing it as a profession much more accessible. Many courses and platforms are available online for beginners—below is a selection of the current options.
Thinkful – If you’re looking for a comprehensive fast-tracked program of online classes, mentorship, and career coaching, Thinkful’s online Software Engineering course will teach you the skills, tools, and the support to become a highly paid full-stack web developer. The course is offered in a full-time format for those who want to fast-track their career change, and part-time if you need to hold down a job while you study.
Lynda – By creating an account and accessing this online library of video courses, you can begin to learn web design and web development easily from anywhere.
Launch School – If you’re looking to master coding, Launch School provides a strong platform to hone your skills. This online school encourages you to master the fundamentals of web development.
Code College – This online coding school has both free and paid courses, as well as a subscription program.
Devslopes – If you’re interested in learning app and web development, Devslopes is the perfect platform. They even offer some blockchain courses.
How to Become a Web Developer
Becoming a web developer might sound daunting but, like all things, it comes down to hard work and putting your efforts in the right direction. Below are some steps to help you on your path to becoming a web developer.
- Read up – By now you probably have a general idea about the web development field, but it’s also important to learn about different aspects and sub-fields too. There are plenty of resources online to help you get started.
- Pick a specialty – Once you’ve brushed up on the different areas of web development—like front-end, back-end, and full-stack development—you may want to choose an area to specialize in.
- Work on your skills – After zeroing in on your areas of interest, you can begin to work on the skills required for those roles. A good place to start is by learning the required programming languages.
- Start with small projects – Aside from practice and reading, real world experience is essential to learning web development. You can start by beginning small projects and moving on to bigger ones. Create an online portfolio to showcase your work and experience. This will assist you in landing freelance work, or help to boost your resume if you’re looking for a salaried role.
- Work on testing and debugging – Don’t forget to practise finding and fixing errors in addition to your coding skills. You don’t want to repeat mistakes, so it’s important to keep testing your work and learning how to debug bad code.
- Learn from others – There’s a whole world of beautiful websites out there, and there will always be new ways to make your site appealing or more functional. Take inspiration from others and you can always incorporate their innovations into your own work.
- Don’t stop learning – A good web developer is one with eagerness to learn and the courage to try new things. Instead of simply repeating what you know, keep on learning, practising, and improving.
- Network – Connecting with other web developers is a great way to share ideas and build your confidence. You can meet other web developers at job fairs, conferences and networking events, or try joining some online forums for web developers.
Determination, hard work, and passion will help you to make a place for yourself in the world of web development. If you’re interested in reading more about the field, check out Thinkful’s software engineering blog. If this article has sparked your interest, you can also take a look at our complete guide to careers in web development.
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