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How To Become A Web Developer

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You have probably seen or met a Web Developer in your lifetime, whether it’s been in the office or sat across from you in a coffee shop - wearing massive noise cancelling headphones and rubbing bloodshot eyes, as they work furiously on their Macbook Pro. Web Developers are often viewed as Wizards performing technical sorcery and are frequently misunderstood as being irritable.

You have most likely thought to yourself at least once “I bet I could be a Web Developer, it can’t be that hard. You don’t even need a degree and all they do is write a few lines of code everyday”. Don’t worry, you are forgiven for thinking that a discipline based on science, logic and reason would be so simple.

You would think that the role of Web Developer is pretty straight forward, but not quite. In this blog article, we will explain everything you need to know about the career, salary, responsibilities, challenges and steps of how to become a Web Developer in 2020. After you have finished reading, you will truly be in a .class of your own…

First Of All, What Is A Web Developer?

A Web Developer is responsible for programming code that tells a website how it is supposed to function. A Web Developer will build websites from the ground up and design them in such a way that the end users will no difficulty or issues when navigating the website.

The purpose of the Web Developer is to build and maintain websites with both the client and consumer in mind. Web Development is generally very project focused and involves collaboration with a team of people who help to coordinate client needs with the end product.

Before the Web Developer even starts to build the website, they will hold meetings with the client to discuss the needs and functionality requirements for the site. It could help to ask the client the following questions:

1. Can you describe your business in a few sentences?

2. Who is your target audience?

3. Do you currently have a website? If so, what is and isn’t working for you?

4. What features would you like to have on the website?

5. Who are your main competitors?

6. What kind of website does your brand need?

7. What’s the project budget?

8. What’s the project timeline?

9. How much traffic are you anticipating?

10. Is there a single point of contact for the project?

Once the website is live, the Web Developer must make sure that the website is functional on all web browsers, deploy releases to fix bugs and perform tests to confirm that a code change has not adversely affect existing features.

Do you know that there are 3 types of Web Developer? Web Development can be broken down into 3 different categories:

Front End Web Developer

A Front End Web Developer focuses on the client side to add style and functionality to the website itself. They use languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build the front facing part of the website – it’s what you see when you visit a website in your browser. If you are looking for a flexible way to move into technology, then Front End Development (FED) might be a great option for you. Many Front End Web Developers can do everything from working for established organisations to freelancing and working with individual clients.

Back End Web Developer

A Back End Web Developer focuses on server side development to ensure that everything on the website runs as smooth as possible. Back End Development is used for behind the scenes activities, it can be any action on the website from signing into your account to making a purchase. A Back End Web Developer works on databases, scripting and the architecture of the website.

Full Stack Web Developer

A Full Stack Web Developer focuses on both client and server software and combines the skill sets of a Front End Developer and Back End Developer. A Full Stack Developer can tackle projects, which involve databases, building user-facing website and work alongside clients in the planning phase of projects.

It’s entirely up to you, which development career path you choose, but wherever you want to end up, we strongly advise that you start learning the fundamentals of HTML and CSS.

I’ve Created A Website, That Means I’m A Web Developer, Right?

Sorry, but no it doesn’t. It only means that you have created a website and being a good Web Developer is something else entirely. Becoming a Web Developer requires a wide range of skills and the drive to learn new things.

Here are 6 essential technical skills that every Web Developer needs:


You will not find a single developer job listing that doesn’t ask for proficiency in these two languages. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets.

Now, try to imagine that a website is like the human body…

HTML is a language used to structure the website, like a skeleton and it is the building block for every website.

CSS is the language used to present what you have created with HTML, like skin and it is used to style to the website (colours, layout, fonts etc).

2. JavaScript

HTML and CSS are used to present information on page, but JavaScript allows you to make the website interactive to end users. With JS, you can implement features such as audio, video, games, scrolling abilities and page animations.

3. SQL

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It is used in programming and was designed for managing data held in relational database management systems or for stream processing in relational data stream management systems.

4. Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design is the approach that websites should respond to the users behaviour and environment based on screen size on devices. If you study CSS, then you also need to learn everything you can about responsive web design too.

5. Debugging & Testing

From building a small website for a florist or working on a large scale online banking website, bugs are the reality of development and sometimes you will fix one bug and two more will take its place! A Web Developer must have the ability to test functionality and debug their own code.

6. Version Control

Version Control software like Git is a tool that Web Developers use to keep track of changes in the code, so they can go back to previous versions and resolve issues without making the situation even worse.

What Is The Difference Between Web Development & Web Design?

In a nutshell, Web Design deals with the aesthetic part of the website and it’s usability. Web Designers use design programs like Adobe Photoshop or Sketch to create the layout and visual elements of the site. Web Developers utilise programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP to bring the Web Designers files to life.

What Does A Web Developer Do?

There are two states of being a Web Developer: I am a God! Or I have no clue what I am doing right now…

Your primary goal as a Web Developer is to create reliable and high performing applications or services. Whether you decide to work for an agency or as a freelancer, your objective is to build a product which meets the client’s needs. The work is varied, and you will most likely be working on different projects simultaneously.

As a Web Developer, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • Write code in one or more programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP
  • Plan and prototype new applications
  • Design the architecture of the components of an application
  • Choose which technologies and languages best fit the project
  • Test websites in different browsers and environments
  • Problem solve and fix bugs in existing projects
  • Test new features thoroughly to ensure that they are working as expected
  • Run benchmarking tests
  • Review other Web Developers code
  • Build and test APIs for applications to exchange data
  • Lead and attend progress update meetings
  • Identify client and user requirements in a project
  • Refactor and optimise existing code
  • Learn about new technologies, frameworks and languages

What Are The Challenges Of A Web Developer?

Every organisation has some pressure points and the Web Developer is often at the hotspot. The role is challenging, exciting and satisfying, but it’s definitely not easy. Whether, it’s the business owner calling you unexpectedly for technical support or when a project keeps hitting roadblocks, there are for sure some challenges, which you will have to overcome in your career. Here are a few below:

User Experience (UX)

A Web Developer always has to keep in mind the user experience (UX) or user journey in their mind throughout the development cycle and being able to make the end product as simple as possible can be a challenge. User Interface (UI) frameworks such as Bootstrap can take away a lot of UI pains and allows the developer to focus on the website.

Security Threats

It can be hard for a Web Developer to set up HTTPS, it can block the adoption for new technologies and some businesses still don’t understand the need of making their website secure. A Web Developer has to ensure user data safety, implement illegal access to restricted parts of the website and prevent denial of service attacks etc.

Understanding Clients

Another problem, a Web Developer faces is not being able to understand client requirements. A lot of the time, you may work with stubborn or indecisive clients and due to miscommunication by clients regarding web development, it is the Web Developer who has to suffer. There are cases all the time, where clients have no clear vision of their own expectation and cannot explain it properly.

Why Become A Web Developer?

In the world today, nearly everything can be done online and a career in Web Development is a job with good future prospects. Here are some of the advantages of becoming a Web Developer:

Huge Earning Potential!

A Web Developer’s salary is not cheap and the average salary in the UK is £52,500 and it can be one of the most lucrative jobs in the market.

Be Your Own Boss!

As a freelance Web Developer, you could be your own boss. You can be as flexible as you like with your hours and negotiate your salary with clients. You will have the opportunity to work on various projects and not be tied down to a single company.

Become A Great Problem Solver!

The ability to solve problems is one of the most important skills a Web Developer can have, it will prove helpful when you are working with logic in code or identifying bugs. Web Development will sharpen your mind and improve the way that you handle complex problems.

Improves Creativity!

Web Developers have the luxury of being able to get creative in their career. If you want to create amazing user experiences and charming websites, then creativity is key. If you choose to work for a start-up, then you can let your imagination run wild.

How Do I Become A Web Developer?

Do you need a formal qualification or certification to become a Web Developer? This can be one of the biggest concerns for those looking for a career change into Web Development.

The great news is that there really is no must-have qualification, degree or certification to become a Web Developer, you just need to be able to provide a portfolio of your work and prove that you have mastered the core programming languages.

Codeacademy is a free platform that you can use to learn how to code and it will teach you everything about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, Bash, Shell, Python and Ruby. You will not be alone, as more than 45 million students have used this tool to learn basic to advanced programming languages.

Even though, formal qualifications are not necessary to land a Web Developer role - they are still extremely important for your personal development and growth throughout your career and will allow you to adopt Best Practices.

As a developer you may find yourself working in a DevOps team or environment, where you will have to become multi-skilling and work with and alongside, other developers, designers, operations staff, testers, QA and security people. In fact, you may find yourself doing all of these things. It could be a case of “You break it, you fix it”

DevOps is a relatively new term, which has emerged over the last couple of year and has gained interest in organisations who require speed to market and continuous service deployment.

In most organisations, Web Development (Dev) and Web Operations (Ops) have had misaligned goals. Development is measured by the number of new features and Operations is measured by 100% uptime.

DevOps focuses on Continuous Delivery + Operability and companies who have implemented the DevOps approach are able to make more code deployments, have faster lead time for changes, they recover faster from incidents and have a lower change of failure rate.

Purple Griffon offer the following easy and affordable DevOps online training courses, where you can become certified from the comfort of your own home or office:

BCS DevOps Foundation Online

Start your DevOps journey today and your brand new DevOps Foundation qualification could be earned online in just 30 or 60 days!

Some Tips For Becoming A Web Developer:

Here are some skills that every Web Developer should master:

Learn How To Google Properly

The art of knowing how to Google a problem properly can literally be your best friend in Web Development. If you have been stuck for days on a HTML, CSS or JS problem, the answer can most likely be found by googling the problem and phrasing your search terms correctly. Stack Overflow and Developer tools are super helpful during the development process.

Learn How To Adapt Quickly

As a Web Developer, you need to be used to change and be able to adapt quickly to new situation’s and technologies. Change in the workplace can range from anything from a project being cancelled/postponed or having to learn more advanced programming languages.

Learn How To Work In A Team

At some point in your career, even if you work remotely as a freelance Web Developer - you are going to work as part of a team, and no one wants to work alongside someone who doesn’t play well with others. Teamwork is a social skill and being able to offer support to team members will help you in the long run.

Learn The DevOps Approach

Web Developers can be hired based on their portfolio alone, but certain kinds of qualifications can increase your chances of being hired and attract employers. The DevOps Foundation certification will help you to stand out from the crowd, increase your career prospects and future employability.

Find out more information here.

What Are Common Web Developer Interview Questions?

We have put together a list of Web Developer interview questions and answers, which you can use to test yourself or to interview potential candidates in your organisation.

What Languages Should A Web Developer Know?

A good Web Developer should know the following languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • SQL
  • PHP/Ruby/Python
  • JavaScript
  • JQuery

What Is The Correct Way To Include JavaScript In HTML?

The best way to include JavaScript into your HTML is by using inline event handlers or online code.

What Is A CSS Selector?

A CSS selector is an expression following the CSS rules and used to select the element we want to style. And CSS selector syntax means how we write or use those selectors in the CSS editor.

What Are The Different Types Of CSS?

Below are the different types of CSS.

  • Embedded – It adds the CSS styles using the attribute.
  • Inline – It adds the CSS to the HTML elements.
  • Linked/External – It adds an external CSS file to the HTML document.

What Is An ID Selector?

The ID selector uses the “ID” attribute of the target HTML element to select it. The constraint to work is that the ID should be unique within a page so that the selector can point it out correctly.

To build an ID selector expression, start with a hash (#) character, followed by the id of the element.

Explain A Few Ways You Can Reduce Page Load Time

You can implement the following changes to reduce the page load time:

  • Reduce Image Size
  • Remove Unnecessary Widgets
  • HTTP Compression
  • Minimise Redirects
  • Reduce Lookups
  • Caching

What New Form Elements Got Introduced In HTML5?

Here are the new form elements available in HTML5:

  • The datalist tag specifies a list of options for input controls.
  • The keygen tag generates an encryption key.
  • The output tag defines the result of an expression

What Is SVG & Why Do You Use It?

SVG is an acronym for Scalable Vector Graphics as recommended by W3C.

  • Its purpose is to display the vector-based graphics over the Web.
  • The graphics use an XML format.
  • SVG graphics are of higher quality and does not lose it even when resized.
  • All elements and attributes of SVG support animation.

What Are The Data Types Available In JavaScript?

Below is the list of data types available in JavaScript:

  • Number
  • Object
  • String
  • Boolean
  • Function
  • Null
  • Undefine

Did you find our ‘How To Become A Web Developer’ blog article helpful? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

About The Author

Lois McConnachie

Lois McConnachie

I have been working at Purple Griffon for a total of 8 years. In my role as Senior Sales Executive, I always strive to deliver a high standard of customer service, which forms the basis of all of my interactions with customers, both old and new. I believe that fostering positive relationships and understanding customer needs are essential for providing effective training solutions. In my personal time, I enjoy relaxing with my Fiancé, drinking iced coffee and watching too much anime.

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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