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.
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!
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.
Most web developers work in one of the following areas of a website:
Web developer duties vary based on which part of a site they work with, but generally, a web developer:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.