A website has the power to make or break a business. A site that’s appealing and easy to use will reel in new customers and boost profits. If it takes forever to load or looks dated, that company will lose sales to their competition – and their brand image could suffer lasting damage.
Needless to say, the art of web development has become incredibly important. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, developer jobs are projected to increase by 13% over the next 8 years, exceeding the average growth rate of most other jobs.
If you’re hoping to enter a stable industry with skills that literally every organization needs, then you’re starting in the right place. This is our complete guide to computer programming: we’ll explore what it means become a web developer and delve into the most common terms and definitions.
When an app functions seamlessly, you can thank the team of software engineers who tirelessly built, tested and perfected it. And when you land on a 404, it probably means something in the code has gone wrong. Computer programming is a powerful skill, and the development team can often make or break a company. But what do developers actually do in their 9-5?
If you’re seriously considering a career in web development, you need to know which skills developers use most – beyond the code. To put it all in context, we spoke with one of our own software engineers to find out what her typical work day looks like. If you’re curious about a career in programming and want to make sure this is the right path for you, here’s the scoop on which skills you’ll rely on, and what your Monday through Friday will look like as a developer.
Definition of Web Development
Web development is the process of building a website, app or software. It involves determining the needs of the client and creating an appealing interface, as well as building in functionality for the end-user – whether they’re looking for information, ordering products, or scheduling appointments.
What Is A Web Developer?
Developers rely on a variety of programming languages to build websites that meet their client’s needs. Some specialize in one or two languages and choose their projects accordingly. Depending on the scope of the project, multiple programmers focusing on different aspects of web development may need to work together to get the job done.
But web development encompasses more than tapping out hundreds of lines of HTML; programmers also have to meet with clients and designers to understand their goals, test features of the site as they go, track the site’s performance once it goes live and even perform ongoing maintenance.
Web development has become a highly coveted career track since developers are in high demand and earn impresive Salaries But in order to excel, you’ll have to put in the time: even if you have a programming language or two under your belt, you’ll also need to get acquainted with two of the most popular web development processes: waterfall and agile.
The Web Development Process: Waterfall Vs. Agile
Whether working with multiple clients on a freelance basis or as part of an in-house team, the work a web developer does requires them to get accustomed to managing different projects simultaneously. Every new site feature or app comes with an extensive to-do list, as developers take the project from the research and planning phase, through development, all the way to testing and delivery.
To keep all of these projects on track, two popular methodologies have been developed. The traditional approach to managing a web development project is the waterfall method: a linear process that guides developers step by step from planning the site, to implementation and maintenance. If they choose to follow this method, developers may spend weeks on planning and production, ultimately presenting the complete project to the client in one go.
By contrast, the agile methodology promotes tackling a project in smaller chunks, presenting different features to the client as they’re developed. In this case, a developer can gather feedback as the site progresses, rather than waiting until they’ve fully completed the assignment. The agile methodology has become increasingly popular since it often leads to higher client satisfaction and more efficient use of time for the development team.
What Are the Most Common Web Development Languages?
If you want to go up the ranks from junior developer to senior software engineer, you’ll have to be fluent in multiple languages. Coding languages can be used in different ways; some are favored in certain industries, or are specific to frontend or backend development. They each have their strengths and weaknesses.
HTML is a frontend language: it tells the browser where text, headings and links should be on the page. Most programmers will start off by learning HTML first, since it’s a fairly easy language to learn, and it’s still one of the most widely used.
CSS is another frontend language used in conjunction with HTML. CSS allows programmers to change the style of their text, the size of their images, and where content should be placed.
But it’s not all about the frontend. If you want to be a full stack developer, you’ll have to learn at least one backend language as well.
PHP is very common, and is also user-friendly for new developers to learn. It’s a favorite for modifying websites built in Wix and WordPress.
Java is another common backend language. Websites built with Java are relatively easy to maintain, and it’s a language that’s employed even on very large websites with lots of data.
Common Web Development Terms
If you’re committed to learning to code, then you’ll soon be introduced to the world of software bugs, core libraries and APIs. We’re going to ease you in with five of the most common terms web developers use on a daily basis.
Bug – An error that prevents a site or app from functioning correctly. Some common bugs include issues with browser compatibility, broken links and long load times.
Deployment – When a website goes live for the first time, or a new version with updates is pushed out.
Libraries – Collections of pre-written code or routines that are frequently used for a specific program. These snippets of code are intended for developers to share and use freely.
Information Architecture – A way of organizing content on a site so that it makes sense for the end-user.
Application Programming Interface (API) – A set of tools that allows two programs to communicate.
Content Management System (CMS) – A software that’s used to build websites, such as Wix, Squarespace or WordPress. Some of these platforms require no coding knowledge and are designed to be “out-of-the-box” solutions for small businesses; others require advanced programming skills.
Web Design Vs. Web Development
If you’re new to the tech space, it may not be immediately clear how these two specialties are different. Both designers and developers are in the business of building websites. But what is web development, and how exactly does it differ from web design?
Web development refers to the process of building a website from the ground up. Aesthetic appearance is certainly a concern, but developers are equally focused on the functionality of the site.
Web design, also called user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design, is more specific. It refers only to the aspects of the site that the user sees and interacts with. Web designers often have some coding knowledge, but they invest much more time into planning the layout of the site, and thoughtfully deciding on the colors, shapes, fonts and images on the page.
Web development and design go hand-in-hand. Developers often work closely with the design team as they plan out the site and bring it to life. By unifying both teams, the company can create a site that’s not only efficient, but also intuitive and enjoyable to use.
Skills Needed for Web Development
Anyone can learn to code, but not everyone will stick with it. If you have these three core skills, you’ll enjoy your web development journey, even after decades in the industry.
Attention to detail: Even the smallest typo could cause drastic problems once a site goes live. Web developers are patient and take the time to double (or triple) check their work.
Logical thinking: Developers take their time thinking through problems step by step to come up with an efficient solution. This is why computer science programs often require deductive reasoning classes.
Communication: When there’s a particularly tricky issue with coding a new feature, web developers have to communicate that in plain language to stakeholders. Engineering teams also work closely together, reviewing and editing each other’s work; so strong communication skills will work in your favor as you debate different approaches to a problem.
Web Developer Careers
There are a lot of people out there who specialize in building tech solutions with code. And they’re not all called web developers. Here are some of the most common job titles related to programming.
Web Developer vs. Software Engineer – These positions have different levels of experience and responsibility. A web developer focuses on building websites. A software engineer usually has more work experience, and is tasked with creating custom software and apps.
Frontend Engineer – Builds all of the consumer-facing aspects of a website, including buttons, fonts, images and text blocks.
Backend Engineer – Programs the functionality behind the site, making sure it can communicate with servers and store user data.
Full Stack Engineer – Experienced working with both the front and back ends, these experts know multiple programming languages. Full stack engineers tend to be more experienced and earn higher salaries.