What is a Web Developer?

Are you interested in building and maintaining websites for clients? You may want to consider a career as a web developer!

Web developers are responsible for programming the code that 'tells' a website how to function. They build websites that are 'user friendly', which means they are easy to navigate for those using them. They also build functions within a website — for example, a form to capture an e-mail or to provide a newsletter, a paywall to capture payment details, or a message to thank a customer for their business.

What does a Web Developer do?

Web developers are familiar with technology and understand how computers and web servers operate. They are also very familiar with many software programs, web applications and web programming languages, such as hypertext markup language (HTML), JavaScript (JS), Ruby on Rails, and C++.

A web developer standing beside a white board, smiling for the camera.

Web development can be divided into three parts: code that executes in a web browser and determines what customers or clients will see when they land on a website (client-side scripting); code that executes on a web server and powers the behind-the-scenes mechanics of how a website works (server-side scripting); and database technology, which helps to keep a website running smoothly and efficiently. Large-scale web projects often divide these tasks among multiple web developers.

One type of developer may focus on setting up the back end of a site (back-end developer) while another may focus on the client side to add style and functionality to the website itself (front-end developer). The work is typically very project-focused and involves collaborating with a team of people who help coordinate the client's needs with the end product.

Work may include meeting with clients to discuss their needs and requirements for a website or discuss how to keep their website functioning and up-to-date. Web developers construct the layout of a website, creating a visually interesting home page and user-friendly design, and may sometimes write content for the website. After a website is up and running, developers ensure the site is functional on all web browsers, testing and updating as needed.

Types of web developers:

Front-End Developers
A front-end developer codes the front end of a website. While web design is the way a website looks, front end development is how that design gets implemented on the web. By integrating markup languages, design, scripts and frameworks, front-end developers create the environment for everything that users see, click, and touch.

Back-End Developers
A back-end developer builds and maintains the technology needed to power the components which enable the user-facing side of a website to exist. Their back end code adds utility to everything the front-end designer creates.

Full Stack Developers
Full stack developers understand how every part of the web development process takes place and can guide on strategy and best practices. These developers will have an increasingly important role in the web development of the future, and are able to look at the 'big picture'. They are knowledgeable with the server side as well as the client side’s user experience.

JavaScript Developers
JavaScript (JS) is a type of web programming language that is supported across all web browsers and tools, and is the language that gives JavaScript developers control and power to create, enhance and modify websites. Even though a JavaScript developer typically works on the front-end, the programming language itself is not limited to front-end use only.

Are you suited to be a web developer?

Web developers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also conventional, meaning they’re conscientious and conservative.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if web developer is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Web Developer like?

A web developer may work full or part-time in a technology department or may choose to conduct business at home. Travel may be involved if a developer chooses to freelance. Some web developers freelance their skills to various organizations, while others choose to outsource their skills to organizations by using their expertise to act as consultants or independent contractors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a software engineer and a software developer?

One of the main differences between software engineering and software development is job function. Software engineering applies engineering principles to create software, therefore software engineers take part in software development by connecting the client’s needs with technological solutions. They systematically develop processes to provide specific functions by using engineering concepts to develop software.

On the other hand, software developers are responsible for the entire development process and are the driving creative force behind programs. They typically work together with the client to create a conceptual design and then have computer programmers create the programming code needed to run the software.

The computer programmers along with the software developers will test and fix problems together and the developers will provide project leadership and technical guidance through each stage of the software development life cycle.

To sum things up, a software engineer is often involved with software development, but very few software developers are engineers. The main difference between software engineering and software development is that one oversees the engineering while the other focuses on creating functional programs.

Continue reading

What are Web Developers like?

Based on our pool of users, web developers tend to be predominately artistic people. They also demonstrate a high investigative aptitude.

Together, these two characteristics perfectly describe individuals who are responsible for designing and developing websites and website applications, managing site functionality, implementing application features, and integrating security measures.

How long does it take to become a Web Developer?

The education track for this career can range from an 8-to-12 week bootcamp, a two-year associate degree, or a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Web developers come from a variety of educational backgrounds. Some acquire the required skills by participating in online communities where they can ask questions, collaborate with fellow aspiring developers, and learn by experimentation and doing.

Web development programs, which are typically available at the associate degree or certificate level, focus on the basics of programming and coding languages most commonly used to build web pages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Others earn a Bachelor's Degree in Web Development or Computer Science. Most learn the profession through a hybrid of formal and informal training.

There are no required licenses for web developers; however, voluntary certifications are available in specific programming languages and in various development platforms and environments. To earn these web development credentials, candidates must generally complete an independent course of study and pass a certification exam.

While some employers may demand one or more of the certifications available in the field or a bachelor's degree, others may hire applicants who lack these official credentials, but bring years of experience and know-how to the job.

Should I become a Web Developer?

Here are some of the reasons that practising web developers cite when asked why they entered the field:

You don’t necessarily need a degree
Many successful web developers are self-taught and do not have any formal qualifications. With knowledge of a programming language and experience with database management, it is possible to enter the field.

It’s creative
Developers, in general, are problem solvers. Web developers, though, are also able to create user experiences.

You’ll be part of a community
Perhaps more than any other field, web development exposes its practitioners to countless online communities. These communities are valuable resources and places to interact and network with like-minded people.

Demand for web developers continues to surpass supply. Employers are therefore paying higher salaries to get the best talent available.

You can work as a freelancer or as part of an organization
As a freelancer, developers can pick and choose their projects and control their own career.

You can work remotely
The nature of web development means that you can work from anywhere in the world, on your own time – especially as a freelancer.

You can become a specialist
Developers who most enjoy working with a particular language can choose to specialize in it and still have plenty of work.

It’s future proof
As web technology expands and evolves, developers are increasingly in demand.

It’s fun
With countless companies on the lookout for new talent, there are exciting opportunities to work in the field and to be given creative control and ownership of projects.

You can expand into other areas
Web development skills are highly transferrable. The mobile sector, for instance, has similar interfaces, allowing web developers to quite easily transition to mobile development. Companies seeking new ways to engage with customers are always looking for customer-facing web developers.

Web Developers are also known as:
Web Content Developer