What Does a Web Developer Do?
Dec 1, 2020
woman coding

Web development is the secret weapon powering almost every successful industry on the market right now. Everything from the food you order to the memes you retweet can be traced back to the work of a developer. But what is web development and what do web developers do?

Here’s a quick dive into everything you need to know about what it means to be a web developer.

What is web development? 

Put simply, web development is the creation and maintenance of websites for the internet (the World Wide Web) or intranet (private network). 

The work of a web developer can be as simple as a static page of plain text or it can get as complicated as an operating system. Both the tech functioning beneath a website (its scripting, core application logic, and databases) and the way a website appears to viewers (its layout, images, interactivity) are the product of web development. It’s also what keeps a site updated, responsive, operational, and fast for a seamless user experience.

Most of the apps, sites, and media platforms we interact with on a daily basis are made possible by the work of web developers. This includes your Instagram feed, your Google searches, your Amazon shopping cart, your music app, your email, and your food delivery app among many others. Think where we might be without them! 

What does a web developer do? 

Now that you know what web development is, we can talk about what a web developer does. Web developers are a bit like virtual construction workers and electricians for websites. They not only build visually engaging websites, social platforms, apps, and content management systems, but they work with the wiring underneath them to keep them functional. Developers work closely with the code, scripting, files, and programming of a site – everything from a site’s scaffolding to its paint. Almost everything you see on a site, in fact, from the color of the font to the way the images move when you scroll, is the work of a web developer.

Web developer duties

Most web developers work in one of the following areas of a website:

  • Front-end development. Front-end developers are responsible for the behaviors and visuals that users like you interact with on a site. They deal with everything from the colors to the fonts to the dropdown menus on a page.
  • Back-end development. Back-end developers work with the server-side of a website.  They build and maintain the tech beneath a site that keeps the front-end of it functional. 
  • Full-stack development. Full-stack developers manage websites from head to toe, building and maintaining both the front and back ends of a site.

Web developer duties vary based on which part of a site they work with, but generally, a web developer:

  • Understands basic coding languages and frameworks
  • Creates and tests applications for the web
  • Communicates and collaborates with a team or client
  • Works with graphics and graphic designers 
  • Troubleshoots websites 
  • Maintains and updates websites 
  • Monitors site traffic 

What coding languages does a web developer need to know? 

Working in web development is a bit like living in a foreign country: you have to learn at least the basics of the language to be able to get around, and in web dev, there are lots of languages to keep track of, each one serving a specific and important purpose. Some languages are more specific to the work of a front-end developer and others are more specific to the work of a back-end developer. A full-stack developer needs to have a grasp of all of them.

Here are the three basic languages that a proficient front-end and full-stack web developer needs to know:

  • HyperText Markup Language (HTML): HTML is the main code used to build the bones of a website. Using HTML, web developers create and structure sections, paragraphs, headings, links, and blockquotes for web pages and apps. HTML also allows you to embed videos and images.
  • Cascading Sheet Styles (CSS): CSS is the language that specifies how a site is displayed. CSS is used to implement a page’s style, including its page layouts, colors, and fonts.
  • JavaScript: JS is a text-based programming language that makes a site interactive and engaging to users. It’s implemented on both the client and server sides of a website.

All three languages work in concert with each other to make a website beautiful and effective, which is why having a base understanding of them is critical in front-end web dev.

Back-end developers (and of course, full-stack developers) need to be familiar with an entirely different set of languages and frameworks. Some of those include: 

  • Python: Python is a scripting language that can automate a specific sequence of tasks to make a website more efficient. It limits blocks of source code text, using white space instead for readability, and it’s frequently used in software applications, pages within a web browser, and some games.
  • PHP: PHP is a scripting language embedded in HTML that’s used to manage dynamic content, collect form data, track sessions, send or receive cookies, manage databases, and generate on-demand responses. It’s often used in eCommerce sites.
  • SQL: this is the most common language used for extracting and organizing data stored in databases like tables.

Other languages and platforms back-end and full-stack developers can work with are Ruby, Node, and .Net. As with front-end languages, different back-end languages allow different, specialized functions on websites. 

Where does a web developer work? 

If you can master the languages and frameworks of a web developer, the world is essentially your oyster. While many web developers work in-house in companies across all sectors, many others are independent contractors who work wherever they can find an internet connection. Web development can be quite a flexible career path.

Web developer jobs 

In a world as plugged in as ours is, web development is a lucrative career across all industries inside and outside of the tech sector. Business, healthcare, government, retail, non-profit—name it, and you can probably find a web developer somewhere helping to power it.

Not only is it found across sectors, but there are lots of niches that can be carved within web development, including:

  • Applications developer
  • Game developer
  • Multimedia programmer
  • Multimedia specialist
  • SEO specialist
  • UX designer
  • UX researcher
  • Web content manager
  • Web designer 

How to become a web developer 

Web development is a lucrative career, one that can be challenging but incredibly rewarding for individuals who love problem solving and creation. It’s also more accessible than ever, with free tutorials, bootcamps, and courses available online for anyone wanting to learn.

One way that you can become a developer is through Lambda’s part-time and full-time full-stack web development programs. We’ll give you an immersive educational dive into languages like JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, and SQL that you’ll need to master web development. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from industry experts and build exciting real-world projects you can add to your portfolio. Lambda helps you not only develop the skills you’ll need to thrive on the job, but the skills you’ll need to get out there and get the job.

Ready to get started?  Learn how to become a web developer or apply to join our next Web Development cohort at Lambda School.

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