How To Become a Web Developer

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Web development is one of the many technical skills in computing that requires some creativity. In this era, almost everyone surfs the web via the Internet and most businesses try by all means to create an online presence for their business. In this post, I am going to guide you on how to become a web developer and start building great looking websites.

What is Web Development?

The first thing you need to know is what web development actually is and the things involved. It’s a term that gets used very broadly, and one person’s definition of web development could differ from another. Generally, web development is the process of creating a website. A web developer is a person who writes the actual code of a website. When I say code I mean using web languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP. There are also people called Web Designers, and you need to know the difference between the two.

Web designers are in charge of the visual design and layout of a website, and the web developer takes that static design and make it a fully functioning website. A web designer could use Figma, Adobe Photoshop or other related tools to design the actual visual layout of a website and then later give it to a web developer who knows coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP) to turn that design into a real website.

Most web designers nowadays are also web developers and vice versa. Those who build websites using CMS (Content Management Systems) like DrupalJoomlaWordPress orAdobe Muse could also be called web designers. With CMS you don’t need to know code to build a website.

Getting Started

To get started all you need is to know is your way around your chosen operating system. Whether you’re using a Windows PC, a Mac or Linux it doesn’t matter. Just get to know the basics of using a computer.

Understand How The Web Works

Before you start learning how to develop web pages, first you need to take some time to learn and understand how the web and the Internet works. Get to know the underlying technologies behind the web, this will really set a pace for you as a beginner.

Things you might need to understand: Clients, Servers, IP (Internet Protocol) address, Web Hosting, DNS (Domain Name Services), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), FTP (File Transfer Protocol, Web Languages etc. There are so many other things to know but these few technologies could make you understand what happens under the hood of the web and the Internet. Below is a video I made that briefly explains how the web works.

It is also important that you know the difference between the Web and the Internet which most people use interchangeably. The Web, usually called the World Wide Web, is a global information system that combines text and multimedia which is accessed via the Internet. The Internet is a global interconnection of networks, it is the pathway to get access to the information within the web.

So that means all websites, blogs and other web resources are on the web but to get access to them you need to connect to the Internet.

Learn Web Programming Languages

For you to start developing web pages you will need to learn web languages. There are languages you should learn: HTML to build the page structure and content, CSS to control the design and layout, JavaScript for interactivity and PHP for functionalities and database connection. You can learn all these languages at w3schools.com.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

HTML is a markup language used to create web pages. It is the foundation of web development, every web developer should know how to code with HTML. HTML is what structures web pages and it is the first thing web browsers loads when you visit a website. HTML pages have an extension of “.html”. Learn more about HTML5.

CSS (Cascading StyleSheets)

CSS is a style sheet language used to give HTML pages a good presentation. Building web pages with only HTML might look weird because you’re going to end up with a website with poor presentation. Web developers use CSS to make web pages look good and give it a presentable layout. CSS files have an extension of “.css”. Learn more about CSS.

JavaScript

JavaScript is the programming language of the web. JavaScript is also termed as a client-side scripting programming language. JavaScript could be used to create image galleries, slideshows, tabs etc. JavaScript is now more powerful than ever with libraries like React.js, jQuery, node js etc. that you can use to create web or mobile applications. Even though JavaScript and Java shared the name “Java” they are totally different languages. JavaScript files have an extension of “.js”. Learn more about JavaScript.

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor and MySQL

PHP is another web programming language used to create dynamic web pages. Because HTML pages are static, PHP makes web pages dynamic. PHP is also a scripting language like JavaScript but it runs on the server side, not on the client side. It’s used for communicating with a database like MySQL, sending emails, uploading files, and much more. PHP pages have an extension of “.php”. Learn more about PHP.

Qualities needed

So how do you know if web development is for you? What skills and qualities are needed to build a successful career as a web developer? A good starting point is having a strong interest in computing, the Internet and the web. Be a good researcher and keep being up to date with the latest web standards and web technologies. You’ll also need to have patience, be creative, and have an inquisitive mind. It’s also essential you have an eye for what looks good, that will really help in your development process.

Set a Goal

Setting a goal will really help you in your learning process. Decide what you want to create or accomplish while you are learning. Do you have an idea of creating a social media site, a personal portfolio or blog? Setting that goal will guide you along the way.

Next Steps

Learning all these languages just to create a website might sound weird and intimidating, but as a beginner, all you need to do is to take things one step at a time. You can learn HTML and CSS together because these two work together closely, and with only these two languages you could build beautiful and responsive websites.

After getting comfortable with HTML and CSS you can check on JavaScript to add more taste to your web pages. Learning JavaScript will also help you to have a glimpse of other programming languages because JavaScript is similar to other popular programming languages. So knowing how to write it will help you easily learn languages like Python, PHP, C++, or Java.

Be Curious and Keep Up To Date

When I was beginning, I often subscribe to online forums in search of answers, and most likely I always get answers. I didn’t always succeed, but I learned a lot from my mistakes.

Being a web developer is a constant learning process and you should be current by all means, so I’ll suggest you often visit websites like World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  the organisation responsible for setting web standards.

Learn From Other People’s Code

There’s nothing wrong with using other people’s code to test and learn how things work. Many developers share their source codes for free for others to use or learn from, GitHub is one of the places were developers’ create repositories on projects they are working on for others to have access to. Another website is Stack Overflow.

Know About Responsive Design

Responsive design means the way websites look and respond to different screen sizes. In this era, web developers have a challenging task of satisfying all users with different screen sizes. In those days, web developers usually build two versions of a website, one for desktop view and another for mobile view. Today with recent developments on web technology you just create one website and make it responsive using CSS media queries or Bootstrap.

Google For Solutions

Even pros in the game use Google when they got stuck, so why shouldn’t you as a beginner? Google questions to get answers.

Showcase Your Work

When you are diving to do a job as a web developer you won’t likely be asked to show your certificates, you’re asked to show what projects you have created or been part of. This is why it’s really important to build up a portfolio of work, websites, apps, code, to show in your interview.

Final Thoughts

Web development is a powerful skill to have, and it needs everyday learning and practice to master the craft. If you want to become a web developer you must endure the long hours of computer usage.

Where Can You Learn Web Development

We offer Web Development classes at our Digital Skills Hub for beginners who wish to start a career as a web developer. Visit our website @ www.training.skills.gm for more info.

If you have any questions to ask related to this post you can comment below. 

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