What skills do you need to be a Web Developer?

What skills do you need to be a Web Developer?

So, who is a web developer and what exactly do they do?

Other roles such as Web Designer, Web Programmer, User Experience (UX) Designer and Full Stack Developer, are also terms that are often used with no clear definition of what they mean or the overlap between these different roles.

It can get quite confusing.

In this write up I will define the role of a Web Developer and contrast it to the other roles mentioned above to help clarify exactly what a web developer does.

What is a Web developer?

To put it simply, a Web Developer develops websites. Now that description still sounds quite ambiguous as there are so many programming languages and technologies that go into developing a website.

To bring clarity to the role of a Web Developer, let me list the three main components that are required in building a fully functional website.

1. Content

2. Design

3. Programming

It does not matter whether you are building a website for a large corporate banking institution or a small trader who has only a few products to display on his or her website, the three components mentioned above will all have to be addressed.

1. Content

Content is the principal item on any website. Content is king. Writing content for the web is a skill in its own right. It has nothing to do with programming but would be something that a UX designer should be aware of.

Content writing is not the main skill required for a Web Developer, nor is it an essential one for the role. Nevertheless, a good Web Developer should know what web content should look like. I am not dealing with content in this brief article so I will end this point here. I will say more about a UX designer later.

2. Design

The design of a website is much more than pretty images and logos.

The design has got to consider the experience that any user of the website will have. Is the design simple enough for someone to be able to instinctively navigate their way around and find the content they desire quickly? That is where a UX designer comes in.

A Web Designer should also have the skills to make a website look good and work well on the internet. On the other hand, a Web Developer should be aware of the skills a Web Designer brings and be able to appreciate and even critique the work they do, but this is not the core role or skills required to be a Web Developer.

3. Programming

Programming on the web is what holds your content and design together, presenting them to the user.

There are two broad areas under which web programming falls.

- Client-side

- Server-side

The client-side programming has to do with those programming languages that are presented to the software on the machine that the person browsing the website is using. This software is known as the client and comes under different names such as - Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox, just to mention a few of the most popular ones.

A Web Developer should, as a minimum requirement, be able to write these kinds of programming languages, namely, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Server-side programming languages on the other hand reside on the server and are never presented to the clients, but rather they perform vital roles with your content and make sure that the right content is served to your user.

Server-side languages can extract data from databases and keep specific information with regards to your user, and perform other dynamic roles that client-side programming languages cannot fulfil.

While a junior Web Developer may not necessarily be able to write server-side programming languages, if he or she wants to progress further in their career then it would be vital that they get to grips with them.

Server-side programming languages include things like PHP, Python and CFML. All these languages can extract content from a database, so the Web Developer should also be comfortable with technologies such as MySQL and MsSQL.

The only other role I have not mentioned so far is a Full Stack Web Developer.

A Full Stack Web Developer can work on both the client side and server side programming languages as well as have a good understanding of the content and the design. Yes, it is having the full package of skills required to have a website up and running.

A Full Stack Web Developer is what an experienced Web Developer can eventually become.


So, a Web Developer is someone who sits under item three - programming.

A Web Developer would start off writing client-side programming languages and later progress to handling and writing server-side web programming languages. An experienced Web Developer could eventually become a Full Stack Web Developer, picking up the skills of a UX designer along the way.

If you want to dip your toes into the water and see if you would make a good Web Developer, a good place to start would be to learn HTML. But then, bear in mind all the other programming languages that you would have to learn.

Have fun.

by Dele Oke | 25 Aug 22

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