How to become a web developer
Originally published here.
We live in a world where many “traditional” skills are no longer in demand. On the other hand, there are certain skills that are becoming more desirable; skills that can almost guarantee you jobs and opportunities for years and decades to come.
One of these skills is web development.
And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy bachelor’s degree in computer science to become a web developer.
In fact, if you follow the instructions in this article, you can become a web developer a lot quicker than you think (but it will still take some hard work!).
Here are some tips on how to become a web developer.
Web development, in short, means building websites for a living, and these are the nuts and bolts you’ll work with daily:
- HTML dictates the structure of a website
- CSS will make it look pretty
Let’s discuss each one of these and how you can learn them.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s one of the main ingredients of any website and one of the so-called front-end languages.
HTML provides the basic skeleton of a website, mainly through a series of tags. A tag is the HTML code that controls the appearance of the document’s content.
Here are some resources for learning HTML:
Short for Cascading Style Sheets, CSS puts the style behind the HTML structure. When building a website, your HTML code will reference CSS to give it some pizzazz – without CSS, a web page would be extremely boring.
Here’s a great resource for learning CSS: CSS cheat sheet
Take advantage of WordPress tutorials
To become a web developer, you’ll have to get familiar with WordPress. After all, 25% of all websites are powered by this free open-source software, which you can install to basically any web host.
Once you set up a WordPress site, it’s easy to add content (even if you don’t have any web development experience).
Learn the basics of UI and UX
UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) are the basics of user experience design. Most developers aren’t design experts – these are two different realms. So, you don’t need to be a design rock star. However, by learning the fundamentals of user experience design, you can better understand how a website can keep users on the site, help them find what they’re looking for, and what can convert them into sales (or leads, clicks, or any other goal).
To learn the building blocks of design skills, I recommend experimenting with the Adobe Creative Suite. Photoshop should be the first thing you dive into, as it’s the go-to for most serious designers. If you don’t like Adobe, you can also try Sketch, which is a rising star among designers.
Here are some resources for understanding and learning UI and UX:
- The difference between UX and UI design – a layman’s guide
- Treehouse and Lynda also offer excellent beginner courses in both Photoshop and general design concepts
Understand SQL and PHP
I’ll lump these two together because they’re like two sides of the same (admittedly more advanced) coin.
SQL is a database technology that stores information. And PHP is a ‘scripting’ language that places or pulls stuff from a database.
To see how these work, let’s think about WordPress. It uses MySQL to store and manage information (like blog posts, page content, comments, user information, etc.) in a database ‘table.’ PHP is then used to interact with these different elements and update the database as you go. Essentially, PHP is what makes a WordPress website dynamic.
Learning more about how SQL and PHP work together can help you master WordPress site development, which can give you a leg up on the job market.
Additional resources for learning PHP and SQL:
Learn the basics of SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which involves improving a website’s rankings within a search engine like Google.
You may be thinking, “If I’m a developer, why do I need to worry about how well a site ranks in the search engines? Isn’t that the job of the bloggers and content creators?”
Well, yes, a large part of a website’s SEO has to do with the content. But the actual structure and code of the website plays a role as well. For example, heading tags (HTML) are extremely important for SEO, as they tell search engines what’s important on a website.
Now, do you need to be an SEO expert? No. But by knowing the basics of SEO, you will be a much stronger, and more importantly, employable, developer.
Here are some resources for learning the basics of SEO:
Take the time to create your own website, using these five steps. By experimenting, you will get a basic understanding of web development, and figure out if this is the right career for you.
Don’t get overwhelmed if you have trouble at first. The demand for web developers is steadily rising, so you have time to learn. Good luck!
See here for available web developer jobs.