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What Is Web Development?

person working in web development with code on their computer

Web development is everything that goes into developing, making, and maintaining a website. This process includes technical elements like coding, programming, and network security configuration, along with more creative aspects like user experience (UX) and design.

Web development might be right for you if you’re interested in a technical and creative field with fast-growing work opportunities. In this guide, we’ll cover:

Overview of Web Development

Website development encompasses every task you do to make a website and get it up and running smoothly. This process usually includes:

  • Planning. Before any technical work is done, the team meets with the client to assess what they want from the website. They discuss who the intended audience is and what the website’s goals are. 
  • Mapping. The next step is creating a sitemap that outlines all of the website’s pages. For example, you might set up a navigation bar from your home page that leads to a resources page. On this resources page, you might have the option to navigate to another page for each specific resource. The site map will outline the relationships between all of these pages.
  • Design. Before the building gets done, the team discusses what the site should look like. A web designer or graphic designer usually leads this process and focuses on the site’s aesthetics.
  • Coding. This is when the website is built. The web developer takes the client’s vision, site map, and design elements into account to code the website.
  • Review. Before launching a website, the team must review and test it to ensure it’s functional.
  • Launch. This is when the website comes to fruition. The website is uploaded to a server and becomes visible to anyone on the internet.

Types of Web Development

Because there’s so much that goes into making a website, web development is usually split into two parts: front-end and back-end.

Front-End

Front-end web development, also known as the client side, is the user-facing side of the website. It includes the look and feel of the site. Front-end developers often work on website design, user interface, and user experience. While this does include technical work, it’s also a creative function focused on visual appeal.

>>>MORE: Learn UX/UI skills with Accenture’s Digital (UI/UX) Virtual Experience Program.

Back-End

Back-end web development, also known as the server side, is tech-heavy and focuses on everything you don’t see when looking at a website, like a website’s code. This type of development also focuses on the site’s efficiency (speed) and performance.

Full-Stack

Full-stack web development encompasses both front-end and back-end work. These developers have the knowledge to take on any task required for building a website, whether a design application on the client side or coding work in the back end.

Web Development vs. Software Development

Web development and software development require similar technical skills like writing code and programming languages, but each field works with different programs. For example, web development involves all the tasks of creating a website, while software development focuses on computer programs that work on computers and phones.

These career paths also differ in who they work with. Developers often work with clients beyond their team to understand the website’s goals and audience before they start building the site. For example, web development can involve a marketing professional when discussing the website’s copy. On the other hand, software developers usually work with other technical professionals within a larger company to help design, upgrade, and maintain its software.

>>>MORE: Standard Bank’s Software Development Virtual Experience Program.

Web Development Job Titles

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most web developers work full-time in computer system design and related services. Other popular web development fields include educational and information services, advertising, and public relations.

Web development job titles depend on what part of the website-making process you’re working on. For example, if you’re focused on the client side, you’ll likely be a front-end developer. Other job titles include:

  • Back-end developer
  • Full-stack developer
  • User interface (UI) designer
  • Web analyst
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) consultant

Pros and Cons of Working in Web Development

Web development is a growing industry, but is it a good career path? While you’ll need training and hard skills to land a job in the industry, it can be rewarding and even exciting for those looking for a mix of technical and creative work.

Pros of Web Development

Fast Growth

Web development is a fast-growing industry, with a 23% projected employment growth through 2031 — much higher than the 5% average, according to the BLS. This growth rate means there should be plenty of job opportunities within the next decade.

Mix of Skills

Developers use a combination of technical and creative skills. So if you’re looking for a field where you can flex technical skills like coding and programming and creative skills like design, this career path allows you to use them both.

>>>MORE: Level up your design skills with BP’s Digital Design & UX Virtual Experience Program.

Flexible Opportunities

Web development doesn’t have to be a full-time job; many developers will work freelance or part-time and juggle projects for multiple clients at a time. In addition, this career path can offer the freedom and flexibility to work how and when you want.

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Cons of Web Development

Ever-Changing Technology

Web development is a constantly evolving field as new technology develops. It can be frustrating and time-consuming to keep up with the changes and new skills you’ll need to know to be successful.

Lamar Laing, founder/lead full-stack developer at Laing Media, recommends that those interested in the field embrace a learning culture and stay up to date on industry trends. “Today, there is so much access to information, tutorials, etc. and the opportunity to forecast what is coming next is pretty much written on the proverbial ‘internet wall,'” he says. 

Screen Time

Web development is often a remote job, one that requires extensive time scrutinizing and staring at a screen.

“While it isn’t exactly playing in the NFL or flying fighter jets, there are still a lot of risk factors that go along with sitting in front of a computer (or sitting a lot in general),” Laing says. “We can spend hours on hours programming. You’re putting a strain on your body by sitting, your eyes with extensive screen time, and your mental health.”

How to Get Into Web Development

Web development is a unique technical field that leaves room for creative thinking. If you’re interested in making and building websites clients will love, this field can be a great opportunity to flex programming, coding, and design skills.

To get into the field, you’ll need strong technical skills and programming experience, including:

  • Front-end programming language (ex: HTML, CSS, Javascript)
  • Back-end programming language (ex: MYSQL)
  • [Optional]: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills

Looking for more about how to become a web developer? Learn key tips to becoming a successful web developer.

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Image credit: Photo by Christina Morillo / Pexels