The demand for qualified developers is on the rise. In this field of expertise, employment opportunities are guaranteed for years and even decades. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, development jobs will grow at a rate of 13% through 2030 — higher than average for other occupations. 

Becoming a web developer in 2021 does not require a fancy computer science degree. You can learn to create classy websites sooner than you think — just follow the steps in our guide. We have listed six competencies you can acquire through online courses, workshops, and tutorials. 

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What Does a Web Developer Do?

These professionals define the ways we experience the web. Check out the web development explained for a detailed description. Website building and maintenance are in demand as most consumers discover products and services online. Every company needs a website, and some businesses fork out impressive amounts to talented developers. 

You will need a solid understanding of HTML and CMS (content management systems). Developers are responsible for building UI and UX. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Writing pages using a combination of markup languages;
  • Building mockups and prototypes;
  • Creating WordPress websites;
  • Developing fully functional and aesthetically pleasing sites and web apps;
  • Providing site maintenance and upgrades.

Specializations

Within web development, there are three domains of expertise. 

  • Front-end developers build the client side of a website or app. It includes all elements visible to the user like menus and navigation bars. 
  • Back-end developers work on the “server side”, building the infrastructure supporting the interface. It includes servers, databases, applications, etc.
  • Full-stack developers work on both the front end and back end. 

How to Become a Web Developer

Learn Language Basics 

Web developers use three main languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They define website structure, appearance and functionality, respectively:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is used for the website skeleton on the front end. It is based on tags — pieces of code controlling the appearance. 
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) adds style to HTML skeletons. 
  • JavaScript allows the implementation of functional elements like graphics, interactive maps, etc.

Learn WordPress

Around 65% of all sites are based on this open-source CMS. It lets clients add and modify content by themselves after their website goes live.

Study UI and UX

Web development and web design are different fields of knowledge. Yet, every developer needs the essentials of UX to understand how to ensure optimum performance. User experience determines how many visitors stay on the site, find what they need and ultimately spend money. Adobe Creative Suite is a great starting point. 

Learn SQL and PHP (Optional)

Both terms are related to database creation. SQL is a technology for data storage, while PHP is a programming language for storing and retrieving information.

For example, on WordPress, information is stored and managed via MySQL. Meanwhile, PHP provides interaction between elements (content, comments, blog, etc.) and automatic database updates. 

Learn the Basics of SEO

Search Engine Optimisation makes websites visible in organic search. When a user googles specific keywords to find products or services, they see optimized sites at the top of the results. Every brand wants to get to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages), and optimisation starts at the development stage. 

Although a large part of SEO is related to content creation, website structure and coding are just as important. Developers do not have to be SEO experts, but they must know the basics. For example:

  • Google prioritizes pages optimized for mobile screens. A website must therefore look flawless on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. 
  • Heading tags (HTML) help search engines identify the purpose and the most critical parts of a website. 

Make Sure Your Site is Responsive

Responsiveness determines how website elements adapt to the screen size. As we have mentioned, mobile optimisation is vital for SEO and online visibility. It also ensures a smooth user experience regardless of the device.

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How to Find Your First Clients

As web development is an in-demand and highly competitive field, do not expect clients to flock to you. Establishing credibility requires time and effort. In addition, you must seek opportunities in the right places. An aspiring developer can follow one of these avenues:

  • Get hired by a company as a full-time employee;
  • Become a freelancer and search for gigs online.

Freelancing comes with benefits and challenges. On the one hand, you will have to seek out projects on your own, without job security or full-time benefits like medical insurance. 

On the other hand, you can choose convenient hours and work from a comfortable location. You will also save several hours per week thanks to the absence of commuting.  

Establishing your personal brand will take time. If you eventually succeed, you will get a steady influx of clients. Here are a few ways to find freelancing development gigs:

Get on Job Boards

Use job boards like UpWork but avoid over-relying on them. First, the quality of clients varies. Secondly, these platforms often attract people who have little experience hiring developers. They may set unrealistic schedules, have unreasonable budgets, etc. 

You will have to do some digging to find really valuable opportunities. On the upside, every gig you take will help you accumulate experience and polish your skills.

Create a Portfolio Site

Showcase your strengths, best projects and testimonials from satisfied clients (past and existing) on your personal site. Give clients an easy way to contact you. Prove that you can do great work and meet their requirements. 

  • Include a short bio and a description of your skills.
  • Focus on the “What’s in it for me?” question. 
  • Keep the feedback section updated. Ask clients for testimonials upon completing every new project. 

Start Networking

Every month, visit several relevant networking events. You can find such meetups on Meetup.com or Eventbrite. Network with entrepreneurs to grow your personal brand and expose yourself to more gigs. 

Conclusion

The demand for web development is growing by leaps and bounds. Acquire a skill set that will unlock a wealth of opportunities! This thriving industry gives everyone a chance to succeed!