The modern labor market is getting ever more competitive, with many jobs becoming obsolete and reducing in demand. Thus, you need to exercise extra caution when choosing your first (or next) vocation to avoid wasting time on the skills nobody needs.
One of the trendy, demanded professions is that of web development. The world is going mobile, and this change has taken a really global scale. Hence, all companies, ranging from new startups to companies that have been enjoying consumer demand offline for many years, need to have a digital resource to keep in contact with their clients. You, as a web developer, can offer software coding, design, and development services of a wide range in this increasingly digital world, thus ensuring a steady flow of work and stable profitability of your profession.
Learning web development may seem overwhelming at first glance. Still, if you know how to approach this subject, you’re sure to advance quickly. Experts say that becoming a pro in this area is possible within 5-6 months if you’re perseverant enough. Still, this result is achievable only if you have good teachers and use credible sources. In this article, the experienced web development team shares tips and recommendations for learning web development from zero, suitable to every enthusiast.
What Is Web Development?
Let’s start with the basics, which is a definition of the professional area. In a nutshell, web development presupposes the design, creation, and maintenance of digital products, such as apps, websites, and platforms of various kinds. Thus, web designers work on websites for personal use and monetization or create web products on-demand for clients.
To be a skilled web developer, you need to understand UI/UX design principles, possess an in-depth mastery of programming languages, prototyping, and website maintenance.
Still, it’s unnecessary to be a master in all those domains. It’s enough to find your own niche, specializing in a particular aspect of web development and working in a team of like-minded pros. Here are the two broad spheres of web development requiring distinct tech stacks and skills from experts – from-end and back-end coding.
When we talk about front-end development, we think about the user interface and design in most cases. Thus, front-end coding involves the creation of features and elements that a user can see and interact with upon visiting or downloading your product. Your job as a front-end developer is to use the prototype or wireframe to bring the visual design elements to life in a consistent, working app.
The sphere of front-end designers’ responsibility typically covers:
- The digital product’s layout
- Animation and graphics
- Content organization across devices and various screen sizes (i.e., responsiveness)
- Navigation and menu
- Functional buttons
- Image positioning on the web pages
To be an expert in front-end website creation, you need to master UI/UX web design principles first of all.
Now, coming to the back-end part of the digital product, you should keep in mind that it’s the internal architecture of the resource a typical user doesn’t see. In other words, it’s the website’s inner core that ensures that all features and functions work well and perform the intended objective. The website’s core is a database (e.g., Oracle, MySQL, etc.) that contains all instructions for its functions and operations. The back-end developer’s role includes:
- Programming code’s creation
- Troubleshooting of existing web resources
- Database management
- Use of various coding frameworks.
As you can see, front-end and back-end development are complementary but serve different functions in the website’s existence. So, if you’re more interested in the visual elements, interactivity, and graphics, your choice should be for front-end coding. Back-end coding is your cup of tea if you are more on the database creation and coding side of the equation.
You can also consider the third option – provision of full-stack development, which includes both front-end and back-end aspects. However, please keep in mind that being a jack of all trades is often challenging. You can deliver a high-quality product to clients only after accumulating considerable expertise in the software development industry.
Learning Web Development: Yes or No
Now, let’s talk in a bit more detail about the propriety of choosing web development as your career path. Is this job in demand, and what benefits will it give you in the labor market? Will it be exciting and rewarding? Here are the cold hard facts about this career, suggesting that the job is worth trying out.
#1 High Demand for Tech Specialties
As the world becomes increasingly digital, you will never go wrong by choosing the web development occupation. According to BLS experts’ projections, web developer demand will increase by 8% every year in 2019-2029, which is twice higher than the international average for all other occupations. Thus, your profession will enjoy growing demand for the next decade or so, giving you unrivaled earning opportunities and a stable income. Why not consider this job if it gives such firm guarantees of professional success?
#2 High Salaries
Professions that enjoy ever-growing demand globally cannot pay little, so the web developer’s occupation is a guarantee of a stably high income. You can consider various employment options, which come with different salaries. For instance, even a junior-level developer can count on at least $4,000 per month in the USA, while experienced coders earn much more than $100,000 per year. An average salary of a developer in the USA constitutes $5,000 per month, which is a decent income.
Developers are free to choose among different employment models depending on their lifestyle and free time. You can get employed at a large international company and work as an office employee or opt for freelance or project-based employment. In any way, you reap the benefits of web developers’ universal demand and employers’ flexibility in hiring. Thus, you can try both employment approaches and choose the one that meets your goals.
Another attractive aspect of this profession is no need to spend 5-6 years at the university or college to master web development. Many capable, successful coders have spent from six months to one year on their education, honing the tech skills and mastery in the process of work onward. Only 45% of the U.S. web development workforce report having a Bachelor’s degree, which means that many coders enter the profession without impressive credentials and diplomas under their belts. It’s enough to earn a CS degree, take some online courses, or attend a boot camp to enter a profession – much less than needed to become a, let’s say, lawyer or medical professional.
Finally, let’s keep in mind that the profession of a web developer is always creative and fun. You’ll need to figure out new designs, interact with a team of creatives, and make people’s lives better with innovative tech products – what can be a better profession?
Steps to Learn Web Development
Now that we’ve clarified that web development is a demanded and attractive profession, let’s find out what first steps you need to take on the way to mastering it.
1. Master the basics of HTML
All developers start with HTML as it forms the basis for any web page’s structure and database creation. Much time has passed since HTML’s creation, so now, most coders use HTML5 for their routine programming tasks.
2. Study CSS
While HTML shapes the basis for any digital product, CSS is their “face.” It’s the coding tool that helps design colorful, user-friendly, and appealing web pages, enables scrolling, and creates clickable buttons.
4. Master Bootstrap
PHP is a vital component of any developer’s skillset as it provides the tools for server-side coding. It’s a server-side scripting language that plays a role in the development of the back-end part of any app or website. Thus, even if you’re a front-end developer, you need to understand the basics of PHP operation to make your front-end design consistent with the product’s back-end architecture.
As we’ve mentioned above, MySQL is the database management system with the help of which you will operate the server-side part of your digital project. Your user information and data about the product’s operations need to be stored somewhere, and that’s what MySQL can help you organize.
Besides these essential programming skills, you need to take a deep dive into the existing frameworks (e.g., Django, WordPress, Node.js, Drupal, etc.) and libraries (e.g., Jquery, Underscore.js, etc.). Knowledge of APIs will also help as the API-first web development approach gains momentum. Thus, having a solid knowledge base in all these aspects, you will secure a competitive position in the labor market, enjoying many proposals and picking the job that’s right for you.
Books and Articles on Web Development
It’s always beneficial to start education with self-help resources, especially given the richness of helpful materials online and in bookstores. Here’s a list of super-handy books for everyone wishing to master web development on their own:
- PHP Objects, Patterns, and Practice (Matt Zandstra)
- PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Websites: Visual QuickPro Guide (Larry Ullman)
You can buy any of these books online or in your local bookstore to master the essentials of a programming language of your choice. Besides, you can access many long-reads online to get the gist of web development explained by pros:
- Web architecture 101
- Rust for Node.js developers
- Modern languages for the modern enterprise
- HTML5 fundamentals
You can find online communities or open-source databases with helpful learning materials for beginners and medium-level developers. The tech community is growing fast, and so is the demand for skilled, capable web developer talent. Thus, many tech giants invest time and effort in open-source material creation to nurture web developers for hire. Some examples to check out include:
- Reddit developer communities
- The IBM developer community with informational resources
- GitHub communities
- Opensource.com, and the like.
Some Tips for Beginners
Here’s your exhaustive guide to learning web development from zero. As you can see, this industry is booming now, so you will enjoy demand and stability by choosing this profession. Use these final tips from pros to help you jumpstart education and further career:
1. Learning programming is not as hard as you might think.
As you can see, programming and web design become user-friendlier and simpler day by day. People long for low-code and no-code programming solutions to make web designers’ lives easier and meet the growing need for digital products. So, you can master this specialization without in-depth knowledge of engineering, computer science, and advanced mathematics.
2. Follow your passion and interests.
The web development industry is diverse, ranging from web design to UX, engineering, database management, and cloud computing. So, you need to study the sector and find the sphere that speaks to you. In this way, your chances of doing a good job and remaining deeply satisfied with the profession are higher.
3. Practice every day.
Web development is not about theory; it’s more about the practice that makes you stronger and more proficient. So, don’t waste time studying a topic in theory for days or weeks. Try your coding ideas and see how they work, thus honing your skills and raising your competence.
4. Join a community.
There are thousands of like-minded coder enthusiasts around the globe. They started out from zero, just like you. So, they face similar problems and challenges every day. If you join an active and supportive community, you’ll excel in the profession much quicker.
5. Don’t try to understand everything.
It’s okay that you might not know everything or can fail to complete specific programming tasks. Specialization matters, and it needs to be chosen with proper regard to your skills and preferences. Being a jack of all trades is great, but becoming a niche expert is even better.
So, here you go with the web development advice for newbies and beginners. Good luck!