Website Development

How to become a web developer

A guide to becoming a web developer

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

From this post you will have an understanding of the three different types of web developer. You will have an understanding of what is involved in becoming a web develop, the benefits and the drawbacks. Finally you will know exactly where to go to begin your journey of becoming a web developer.Web development is an extremely rewarding career. Its challenging, financially rewarding and there is always something new to learn.

I mentioned that I would discuss the drawbacks of being a web developer, however there isn’t many. If I had to mention one, it would be the amount of frameworks and new technologies that are constantly being thrown into the JavaScript community. I choose to ignore most of them and focus on tools that I need and don’t tend to pickup a tool just because its new and fancy.

What you need to know and frequently asked questions

Types of web developer

There are three distinct types of web developer, a front-end, back-end and full-stack developer. If you’re new to software development, these terms may be confusing. All data-driven websites are split up into two layers, the server layer and the view layer. When you see a website in your browser, you are looking at the view layer. A front-end developer developed that layer, while a back-end developer wrote the code that gets the data to the view layer. A full-stack developer will develop on both the front-end and the back-end.

How do I know which one to choose?

Choose the front-end.

When you’re learning to develop, you’re going to be doing all the work. You’re not going to have a front-end developer that you can send data to. Writing a back-end application is far less exciting that writing some front-end code. The output looks much better and while you’re starting, it will be much more rewarding.

To make your own website, you will need to learn three languages. HTML, CSS and JavaScript.Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a set of tags that markup the content on your page. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the styles that will be applied to your HTML. CSS is used to style both the layout and the finer details, such as font and colours. JavaScript is used to provide interactivity to your website. As JavaScript is a functional programming language and introduced a whole new level of complexity, I would recommenced mastering HTML and CSS before you start learning JavaScript. Understanding how the DOM works before you start writing JavaScript will be a huge benefit.

What qualifications do i need to be a web developer

There is no one qualification that you must have to become a web developer. There ate many successful developers that don’t have any qualifications. However, a degree in computer science will help you land the high paying jobs. There are some parts of web development, such as database design and Object Orientated Programming (OOP) that are best taught in theoretical environments. That is, having an industry veteran teach you the theory behind the concept before you start to write code. Doing so will help you write better, more efficient code and this makes you a much more valuable employee.

A university degree isn’t for everyone and web development is for everyone. So, there is plenty of online and offline courses that you can take that will still make you an extremely good developer if you put in the hard work.

Before any university of course, the number one thing that will make you a good web developer is patience and passion. There is no way that you can put in the hours needed to become good enough to get a job without passion. Finding a love for web development is absolutely essential to be successful. 

Getting started

Here are three practical steps that you can take right now. These steps will get you on your way to learning what you need to start a careers in website development.

Step 1: Understand the DOM

The first practical step you will take is to understand the Document Object Model (DOM). Having a good understanding on the DOM before you start to learn HTML will make HTML, CSS & JavaScript make much more sense.Resources with good explanations of the DOM:

Step 2: Understand basic CSS

CSS plays a huge role in the view layer of a website. From controlling the layout of the page styling, CSS will be what you spend most of your time writing. Even if you use a Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress, you will still need to style your content with CSS.CSS is easy to learn, but difficult to master and you are ging to run into all sorts of problems before you master CSS.To get started with CSS, use these resources:

Step 3: Understand the uses for JavaScript

JavaScript is a scripting language that runs in the browser thanks to the V8 engine. JavaScript can be used to communicate with the server without the need for browser refreshed (Ajax), manipulate the DOM and provide interactivity to your web pages. However, JavaScript comes with a cost, both a performance cost and the time it takes you to write the code. JavaScript can be abused by poor developers and you do not want to become one of those developers.To help you understand when and where to use JavaScript, use the following resources:

The steps I take to learn a programming language

I’ve learnt several programming languages over the last couple of years. Professionally, academically and personally I have had experience with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java, PHP, Ruby, Ruby on Rails and Node Js. I haven’t created production ready application with all these languages, however I have gone through a process of learning them. The more I’ve learnt, the better I have become at learning.

Step 1: Research the language

More than anything, researching a language or framework is me trying to get excited about it. If I’m not excited after reading case-studied, blog posts and tutorials, then I know that I’ll probably never get excited about the language and that makes it extremely difficult to learn.

Research is also about getting to know where the language or framework sits in the market place. Look a a job board in your local area and see what web development languages employers are looking for. If the usage rate of a modern language is high, that’s probably a good language to learn. However, I think this should be done carefully. I have seen some areas that have a high usable of older languages. This doesn’t mean that these are good languages to learn, it means that there is allot of legacy applications that will most likely be discontinued in the near future.

Step 2: Do a Codecademy course

If there is a Codecademy course on a language that I am interested in, I will do that before any other tutorials. The reason I do the Codecademy course is that its a fast way of getting to understand the syntax of the language and to see if it is something that I actually enjoy writing

Step 3: Watch Youtube Videos

Watching other people use and talk about using a language or framework can be a great way to pick up some tips. My favourite coding videos to watch a follow-along tutorials where can make something cool and learn at the same time.YouTube is also a good way to see if learning a language is a good idea. If there are allot of videos on the language, there is likely to be more than enough resources on the internet to take you from beginner to professional.

Step 4: Set a challenge and work towards it

This is possibly the most difficult part of learning a language, but definitely the most rewarding. Set yourself a challenge that is beyond what your current skill level is. Be careful to not set a challenge that is impossible.Work towards building the website, solving problems as they arise. By doing this, you will become familiar with the language and how to solve problems that you come across. After all, learning to code is mostly about learning to solve problems.

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