What Does a Web Developer Do: Types of Website Programming

What Does a Web Developer Do: Types of Website Programming

Web developers are, in many ways, the cornerstone of the modern, interconnected world. Without them, there would be no websites at all. There is not much point in browsing the Internet if there's nothing to see, right?

No wonder web development is one of the hottest and most lucrative fields to be in right now. But what does a developer do, exactly? Is it the same as web design? And, how do you become one?

What is a Web Developer?

A web developer is a professional that creates and updates every aspect of a website. That might not sound like much, but within that statement, lies a whole slew of roles and responsibilities that can make or break any website.

Developers are in charge of every aspect of a website. On the front end, they help translate the wireframes or design plans from web and UI designers into the functional website that visitors see. On the back end, they create the functionality that enables websites to meet business objectives.

To achieve these tasks, a web developer uses various technologies and programming languages. Key examples include HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and SQL.

Websites can be complex projects with many modules and parts. For anything but the simplest websites, there is usually a team of developers working on a website's specific aspects to make it function.

With every company on the planet trying to create a presence in the digital sphere, having a website is crucial to achieving that goal. That means web developers will always be in demand for the foreseeable future. And the pay reflects the demand: the median annual salary of web developers in 2019 was at $73,760, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

So, what do web developers do? It can be challenging to pin down precisely the answer because there is much scope within this job description. Here are some of their responsibilities:

  • Using code to bring the wireframes and design plans of web and UI designers to life.
  • Collaborating with clients, marketers, management, and other stakeholders to ensure the website is going in the right direction.
  • Planning and executing testing to catch any errors and ensure the website is working as intended.
  • Creating the back-end logic that powers the features and functionality of the website. These include things like user login modules, connecting to databases, and processing user data.
  • Coordinating with graphic designers, content writers, and copywriters for the website's content.
  • Optimizing the website for usability and accessibility. This ensures the best browsing experience for various types of users, including those with disabilities.
  • Ensuring a responsive design so that the website looks correct no matter what device the visitor views it on.
  • Using analytics tools to monitor metrics, such as web traffic and conversion rates.
  • Creating web applications and modules as needed by the business.
  • Optimizing the website for speed by converting images and videos into size-efficient formats.
  • Deciding on the best web technologies to use to achieve the site's goals.
  • Monitoring for errors and correcting them right away once detected.

As you can see, a developer role can be pretty diverse, depending on the company you work with. So, it's best to ask: what does a web developer do in your organization?

Types of Web Developers

There are three main categories of web developers, depending on which aspect of a website they're handling. These are the back-end, front-end, and full-stack developers.

  • Front-End Developers

Front-end developers are responsible for creating the website's user interface – basically anything that the visitor can interact with and see. These developers work closely with web and UI designers to take a design layout from plan to live. They are responsible for making a website responsive, gorgeous, and functional.

The languages of choice for front-end developers are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Both HTML and CSS are used to create the look and feel of a website, while JavaScript is used to add interactive and dynamic elements.

  • Back-End Developers

Back-end developers are responsible for the logic that powers a website's functionality. Compared to front-end developers, back-end roles are more technical. Their scope covers server-side web programming, which includes handling databases and data processing algorithms.

For example, when you log in to a website, a complicated series of steps happen when you click the "Submit" button. The website needs to verify your username and password against your credentials from its database. If correct, the back-end retrieves your profile information and passes it over for the front-end to display to you as the user.

The above series of steps is the responsibility of a back-end developer. To implement these functionalities, they use various server-side programming languages like PHP, Java, Python, and SQL for database operations.

  • Full-Stack Developer

Full Stack Developers deal with both front and back end development, allowing them to handle the entire web development stack.

While these developers need to learn and understand a wide variety of concepts and languages, they are better positioned to create websites from scratch. They either build websites on their own for smaller companies or oversee the entire web development process for larger organizations.

Web Design vs. Web Development

A common misconception most people make is lumping web development and design together. The truth is that these are two distinct roles. To better understand the difference, we need to know first: what is web development vs. web design?

Web design is an inherently non-technical process. The main focus is conceptualizing the look, feel, and layout of a website. A web designer decides which colors to use, what layout works best, and which fonts are best suited to their design goals.

What web design doesn’t do is build the website itself – it only tells how the website should be made. The actual creation is the job of web development, which uses code to transform the web designer's vision into a website that users can browse through.

This separation of roles is practical when working on large projects because it allows specialization. In other words, a web designer doesn't need to learn how to code, and a developer isn't required to have graphic design skills.

Even though these are two separate roles, there is much overlap in practice. For smaller companies, for example, the web designer might also be the one who will create the site.

Characteristics of a Good Web Developer

It takes more than knowing a few programming languages to become a successful web developer. Climbing up the ranks requires a few critical soft skills and a certain attitude.

  • The drive to learn

To be a successful web developer, you need a tireless passion for learning. Web development is a rapidly evolving field. New technologies, libraries, and plugins are introduced all the time, so you need to stay up-to-date with these changes.

Regularly browsing through developer forums and blogs and experimenting on side projects are great ways to sharpen your web development skills.

  • Communication skills

Contrary to the stereotypical programmer who's holed up in their cubicle all day, developers need to be team players. They are often the glue that brings together marketers, upper management, clients, and other stakeholders, so they need to be excellent communicators.

Explaining a complicated concept in simple language is also a critical web developer skill. You need to bring everyone together onto the same page, and a lot of the stakeholders may be non-technical individuals.

  • Attention to detail

Web development is a perfectionist's game. That's because even a single error or bug can bring an entire website to its knees. Thus, a good web developer needs to have the patience and attention to detail to spot critical mistakes before launch.

How to Become a Web Developer

Becoming a web developer is a challenging but rewarding career path. Part of the difficulty is that there's so much to learn – programming languages, plugins, concepts, platforms – the list goes on and on.

To set yourself up for success, you need to have a plan. Start by deciding whether you want to be a front-end or back-end developer. We don't recommend going full-stack as a beginner as it can be too overwhelming.

Once you've decided, figure out the languages you need to learn. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are a must, regardless of whether you're doing front or back-end development. Python is an excellent place to start server-side programming because it's easy for beginners to pick up.

Don't forget that you won't learn web development through theory – you need to put what you read into practice. You can do this by setting up a hobby website where you can experiment and test concepts.

To speed up your career further, find a real-world project to work on. Maybe contact an organization and offer to work on their website for a minimal fee. You can also apprentice under a more experienced web developer to learn the ropes.

With continuous focus and effort, you can be an accomplished web developer in no time!

Of course, if you have a website project that needs to be done right now, why not outsource it to an expert web development agency like Expedition Co? You'll get fantastic results and ROI, plus you can see first-hand how proper web development should be!

Interested? Contact us today, and let's start a conversation!