A fun and challenging career in Web Development
What exactly does a web developer do? In summary, web developers make websites ‘do things’, i.e. their functionality and interactivity with the user. Even this very site and page that you are currently looking at required the involvement of a developer to not only create the frame work, but to also ensure that it all works smoothly. The next question you may ask then: is web development a career with prospects? When considering the rapid rate at which the internet has grown, and is continuing to grow, the answer is “definitely”. More and more businesses and even independent people are wanting more sophisticated and unique sites with greater functionality and better, more efficient user experience. If you are already a web developer wanting to enter into this world wide web of opportunity, register your CV to apply for development jobs on Job Mail.
What is Web Development?
Website, or Web, development broadly refers to the work involved in building, creating and maintaining a website for the internet (World Wide Web) or an intranet (a private network). Basically web developer jobs deals with the technical aspects of a website. It includes many types of web content creation and mainly deals with non-design aspects of building websites such as coding and writing markup. When creating a website, a web designer is required prior to a web developer. A web designer will visually design and create the layout of the website. The developer, with the use of coding or programming, is able to take that design and vision from a static state to a fully functional product that is online and available to the world as per the owner’s requirements. Coding is essentially a language of its own, and when written with mastered fluency, it can be used to create virtually any imaginable online landscape and functionality.
Responsibilities of a Web Developer
It is important to note that many web developers are also designers in that they build the websites that they design. A truly winning combination is, however, rare in that it requires both a creative talent as well as a technically skilled mind. Some development companies include web design as part of the development responsibilities, and will often have different individuals i.e. the creatives and the developers, working together on the projects. Other potential processes that developers can offer include; web content development, database management, social network applications, updating blogs via blogging websites, client-side/server-side scripting and network security configuration, amongst many others. Web development can range from creating simple, plain text pages to complex electronic business applications.
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There are numerous methods for a developer to create online products, however, there is often a trade-off between simplicity and customisation. In recent years, content management systems (or CMS) like WordPress and Joomla have become popular tools for development. They provide basic website templates and simplified editing tools. These tools have simplified the development and management process so effectively that virtually anyone is able to create and edit their own website via a web-based interface. This is where the tradeoff comes in – simplicity is achieved easily, but a unique, customised website requires a more skilled developer’s input. This simple avenue of web development is suitable for and preferred by small organisations and individuals. Most large businesses do not use CMS because they require a greater level of customisation. Instead these businesses usually have a development team dedicated to design and maintenance of the company’s website(s).
Thinking of a Career in Web Development?
You might have already started browsing ‘web development jobs’ and are now wondering if a web developer job would be a good fit for you.
What characteristics are needed to succeed in web developer jobs?
A keen interest in computers, the internet and the web are obviously essential. A methodical, detail-orientated, technical mind will stand you in good stead, and although it is not vital, a creative eye for aesthetics would certainly benefit you too. A strong desire to learn and good research skills are important to keep up with the constantly evolving digital world.
As with all IT jobs, web developer jobs don’t only involve working alone in front of a computer, immersed in the digital world. These jobs involve interacting with either the clients directly or with other members of the development team. It is important then that you develop your ‘soft skills’. Listening, communicating (with co-workers and also non-technical audiences) and empathising are skills needed to deal with your client, meet the client’s needs, as well as to work with others such as other developers, designers and account managers.
Below is a summary of the skills, interests and qualities that a successful developer needs:
- excellent web and database programming skills
- an understanding of development standards
- an inquisitive mind and a commitment to keep up to date with technology
- a good appreciation of design, usability and interactivity
- the ability to work alone or in a team
- an appreciation of commercial pressures
- project management skills for more senior roles or freelance work
- good time management skills and the ability to work to deadlines
- excellent problem-solving skills
- the ability to follow exact instructions
- creative skills to envision clients’ ideas and turn them into workable plans
- a willingness to work flexibly but in an organised manner
As a web developer, and as with all IT jobs, it is not only useful but vital to keep an eye on other technologies that are rising in popularity. Recently mobile web and tablet computing has exploded. The multimedia content that is being used on websites therefore needs to be ‘responsive’, i.e. viewable and functional on a range of device platforms (i.e. on desktops, tablets and mobile phones). In addition, specialist applications, or ‘apps’ are being developed more and more these days for new devices.
Specialists vs generalists
Do you have an idea in mind about what kind of role you’d like to play in the future world of web development? As a web developer you could end up working in a company or specialist consultancy as part of a large team – focusing on just one aspect of the entire process; you could work in a smaller company fulfilling a role with a wider range of responsibilities – requiring a broader range of skills; or you could become a freelancer. In the case of working for yourself it is essential to have a holistic understanding of ‘business’ and its requirements such as the legal requirements, marketing and finance, as well as the technical skills that you can offer your clients.
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Below we have summarised the different kinds or categories of development roles:
Front end Developer: specialises in building the front end or client-side of a web application. Front-end development involves what is visible to the user, encompassing everything that a client, or user, sees and interacts with.
Back-end Developer: is responsible for building and maintaining the back end or server-side of a web application. Back-end development is about what is invisible to the user, the behind-the-scenes to make the front-end development ‘work’. This includes the server, the application and the database.
Full-stack Developer: is proficient in all stages of web development, from conception (the front-end) to the deployment (back-end).
Web Developer: a programmer who specialises in the development of World Wide Web applications. It is the most common role. ’Web developer’ is, however, an ‘umbrella’ term that encompasses most of the mentioned development categories.
User Interface (UI) Developer: is similar to a front-end developer in that they use client-side technologies to build the front-end of a website. It differs in that User Interface developers put more emphasis on their projects’ aesthetics and design.
Although many employers do prefer prospective web developers to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, it is not always necessary to have a formal education to become a developer. It is, however, essential to have an industry-specific, recognised qualification/s and a good, working knowledge of appropriate programming languages. You can get a good idea of the skills currently in demand, qualifications that are required and other qualities employers are looking for by checking out job vacancies online, for example, on Job Mail.
Web Development Courses and where to study?
Online: There are many web development courses available, especially online. A simple online search will reveal a multitude of them. In such a rapidly evolving world as IT, online courses will continue to be a resource that you will use for the rest of your career.
Certifications: Certification in current Web development systems and software is beneficial, especially for a prospective web designer without a bachelor’s degree. Such certifications and diplomas are available through many education institutions, software companies or professional associations. e.g the Microsoft offers the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certification.
The World Organization of Webmasters also offers three levels of certification related to Web developers. This offer includes an exam that assesses levels of proficiency in programming, web design, web security, database management, servers and networking.
It is important to ensure that your certifications are accredited.
In South Africa: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS & COLLEGES
Cape Town and Johannesburg
Diploma in Multimedia Design and Production
Bellville, Cape Town
Diploma in Graphic Web Design and Web Development
UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG
UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA
TSHWANE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
BOSTON CITY CAMPUS & BUSINESS COLLEGE
VEGA SCHOOL OF BRAND LEADERSHIP
Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town
WEB DESIGN ACADEMY.CO.ZA
Durban and Johannesburg
Web Design with Dreamweaver CS6
As the internet and e-commerce continues to expand, the number of web developer jobs and IT jobs available are sure to increase – it is well worth considering a career in the digital world, especially in web development. Ready to apply for development jobs? Register your FREE CV on www.JobMail.co.za and start applying today.