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A person passionate about the internet and computers is ideally suited for a position in web development. A web developer is also known as a web content developer or a front-end developer. A web developer is someone who programs web pages, and is more focused on the way a website works than how it looks. Some developers freelance their skills to various organizations. Others choose to outsource their skills to organizations by using their expertise to act as consultants or independent contractors.
A web developer is responsible for programming the code that “tells” a website how to function. He or she is the first to design and write the code for a web site. A developer builds a web site from the bottom up, which means designing the web site in such a way that both old and new end users have no difficulty navigating the site. Site navigation includes designing a web site that can be accessed from any web browser, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome, among others.
A web developer builds and maintains web sites with the client and consumer in mind. That is, the end design must include products offered and how clients may access services. Building a user-friendly web site is challenging and rewarding, not to mention an essential skill for web developers. Applying code to form function and design is an important part of web design. For example, a customer may want a form to capture an end user’s e-mail to request additional information, provide a newsletter, or thank a customer for their business. A developer aware of the many facets of web design, from the smallest detail to end-user functionality, is the ideal person for this position.
The workplace of a developer varies depending on the type of assignment the front-end developer chooses. A designer may work full or part-time in an office Information Technology (IT) department or may choose to conduct business at home. Travel may be involved if a developer freelances or moves from one company site to another. This flexibility in workplace or the ability to work independently enhances the career of a front-end developer. For example, a company may go bankrupt, but a person skilled as a web content developer has the option to move to another company or start an independent business.
Patience is likely the most valuable skill a front-end developer can develop. Customers can have extravagant, unrealistic expectations for the practical design of a web site. End users, such as customers, clients or company personnel, may accidentally insert code, or a simple design might be too complicated for end users. At times, dealing with clients and end users can be far more difficult than designing the required computer programming.
The ability to design and use a database is also important. Databases are used to determine accuracy and performance in web site maintenance and design. A database avoids repetition of code in a web site or design. Oracle, Structured Query Language (SQL) or MySQL are common database management systems utilized for web development. Oracle is a costly database management program and may not be appropriate for small business educations. Oracle is largely reserved for large corporations, government, or institutional intranets. SQL and MySQL are open-source platforms and are free to the public. The database enables an end user to access the items available through a web site, such as order forms, to access information or to capture credit card data.
A front-end developer needs to know how to provide web content in a user-friendly environment. This task provides a challenging aspect to web site development and maintenance. The web site should not be so simple that it does not appeal to advanced users, nor should it be so complicated that the beginner is easily lost in the process. In a very real sense, a front-end developer is in a position to educate others in the use of the web site or platform.
Experience is highly desirable in a developer, and a front-end developer can be self-taught. However, certification is required by many employers, and if one works as an independent, some customers may ask for a certificate. There are online courses that offer free web development certification courses, or a person may wish to gain an associate’s degree in web development.
If you use the web to do things like book a flight, comment on forums, view a bank balance, report a fault… and countless other tasks, then a web developer will have been involved in making sure it all works smoothly.
Learn the key to finding a job you love, remind yourself of the importance of play (hint: they’re connected), and discover what on earth a “sprite” is as we chat with Glen Elkins, who works as a front-end developer at Room 214, a social media agency based in Boulder, Colorado.
In the latest instalment of our ‘Day in the life’ series, Web Developer Adam offers an insight into life at Code.
When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I am a "Web Developer". It's more accurate than "Web Designer" and much less narcissistic than "Webmaster."
Before you take the plunge into a career in web development, there are a few things you should probably consider.
Over the last few years I’ve received more and more interest into the life of a web developer – what we do, how much money we make, the education involved, etc.