How to Become a Web Developer: A Guide to Launching your Career

Final How to Become A Web Developer

Becoming a web developer is a great way to open up new career opportunities and expand your skill set. With the right resources, dedication, and effort, you can become a junior web developer in as little as a few months to a year.

This article highlights some steps to get you started on your journey of learning how to become a web developer. We also have a post that lists the best website builders. Check it out when you’re ready to start developing your website.

Key Highlights

  • Building your projects is an important part of becoming a web developer and honing your skills
  • Beginner, intermediate, and open-source resources are available to help you build your projects
  • Having a portfolio is essential for web developers to showcase their skills, experience, and expertise to potential clients and employers
  • In a highly competitive job market, having a portfolio can help you stand out from other web developers who may not have one
  • There are various websites and platforms where web development jobs and freelance opportunities can be found
  • Crafting a strong resume and cover letter, as well as preparing for technical interviews and coding challenges, are important steps in finding the right job or freelancing opportunity

What Is the Importance of Web Development in Today’s World

There are over 1 billion websites on the internet as of 2023. Millions of websites are being created every year. The process of developing these websites is what we call web development.

Web development is one of the fastest-growing professions today. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow faster than the average for other occupations. Here are some reasons why web development is essential in today’s world:

Communication

The web has become the most important medium of communication today. Due to significant improvements in network speed, websites have now become an enabler of real-time communication.

Web-based platforms like Trello, Slack, and Asana allow you to collaborate on projects with colleagues. You can communicate with your friends and colleagues using sites like Zoom and Google Meet. The list of websites is endless.

Business

Almost all businesses these days own a website. From big companies and eCommerce brands to barber shops. As internet penetration continues to rise, so will the number of websites increase.

Businesses use websites to communicate information to their customers.  Customers can go to a company’s website to see the opening and closing hours, the products they offer, pricing, plus other important and minor details.

Education

The internet has become a massive repository of information. There are billions of active blogs on the internet discussing topics in industries like finance, technology, health and fitness, relationships, and other topics.

We also have robust search engines like Google which makes accessing this information so much easier and faster. In recent times, we have witnessed the advent of ChatGPT, an AI-powered tool that allows us to get the information we need with a single prompt. AI tools like this, search through millions of websites online to give you tailored answers.

Entertainment

The web is also a huge source of entertainment. Youtube.com is one of the largest video platforms in the world. There you can find all kinds of entertaining videos, from music videos and comedy to football matches and UFC.

Another popular entertainment website is Tiktok.com (which is more popular as a social media app). TikTok is currently one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. It managed to garner over 1 billion users globally in just a few years.

Though both TikTok and YouTube have mobile apps, their website also receives millions of visitors daily.

Social Change

The web has been the center of powerful and far-reaching social movements like Black Lives Matter, gender equality, and climate activism. Websites have been set up and blogs have been created to spread information about these social movements.

GoFundMe, for example, has played a pivotal role in helping marginalized voices be heard and supported. Individuals can request financial support from well-meaning individuals to support their goal of making the world a more fair and equitable place.

Learning the Basics of Web Development

Final How to Become A Web Developer

The first step in becoming a successful web developer is to learn the basics of web development. This involves learning programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML deals with the basic structure of a website, and CSS allows you to style your website and make it look as you wish. JavaScript is used to add interactivity and expand the functionality of a website.

Understanding HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This language is used to structure a web page. The elements that you see on a web page – buttons, images, links, and text – are created using HTML.

Each element has a corresponding tag in HTML. Examples of HTML tags are <button>, <img>, <section>, and <code>. For example, if you wanted to create a paragraph in HTML, you’d use the <p> element. The text you want in the paragraph goes inside the opening <p> tag and closing </p> tag.

Understanding CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. The language is used for styling HTML elements. Using CSS, you can set the color and background color, the font face, font size, margin and padding, width, and height, and so much more.

CSS is also used to position the elements where you want them on the web page. There are different options for alignment, including CSS Flexbox and Grid. If you become proficient at writing CSS, you can design any layout you want without breaking a sweat.

Understanding JavaScript

JavaScript is used to add interactivity to a web page. This includes animations, calculations, and basic programming. JavaScript is also used to fetch data from other sources (over the network) which can then be displayed on the website.

Node.js is a JavaScript framework used to build the backend part of web applications. You’d install a backend framework like Express to handle all the nitty-gritty for you.

Setting Up Your Web Development Environment

Once you’ve learned the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you’re then ready to start building some basic websites. To get started, you’ll first need to set up your development environment.

First, you’ll need a computer that is capable of running programs. The computer should have a modern web browser (Chrome, Edge, Mozilla, etc), with the latest versions installed. The next tool you’ll need is a source code editor. The popular ones are VS Code, Atom, IntelliJ IDEA, and Sublime Text.

The Basics of Web Hosting and Web Servers

For your website to be accessible over the internet, it has to be hosted on a public web host or web server. These are specialized computers that have access to the Internet.

Web servers hold the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files as well as other assets used on your site like images, music, videos, and so on. Here are some of the best web hosting providers you can find on the internet. And here are the best reseller hosting providers for developers.

Learning Web Development Frameworks and Tools

Frameworks and tools make the process of developing websites so much easier, thereby increasing our productivity. There is a large plethora of web development tools, but here are the most popular ones:

React, Angular, and Vue.js

These three are JavaScript frameworks used to design the front-facing part of websites. They provide a unified way of building applications, and they give rise to single-page applications which are faster and better optimized.

Rather than code everything from scratch using vanilla JavaScript. You can use any of these libraries and save yourself a ton of time. Not to mention that they are tons of tools and plugins you can iterate to add extra functionality without building it yourself.

Git, npm, and Webpack

Web development is a collaborative process between software developers. This is why Git is very important. Git is a tool used to track changes made to the source code. Developers use Git to manage projects and collaborate.

Npm or node package manager is used in Node.js projects to install and manage third-party libraries (packages). Webpack allows you to compile these third-party modules to JavaScript so they can be executed by the JavaScript runtime engine.

Database Management and Server-side Scripting Languages: PHP and Node.js

The backend application can be written in a backend programming language. There are dozens of backend languages available, but two popular examples are PHP and Node.js.

PHP

PHP is an object-oriented programming language used in the majority of websites on the internet. It’s fast, robust, and immensely popular. Here are some of the things you can do with PHP:

  • Generate dynamic page content
  • Create, open, read, write, delete, and close files on the server
  • Collect form data
  • Send and receive cookies
  • Add, delete, and modify data in the database
  • Encrypt data

Node.js

Node.js, on the other hand, is a JavaScript framework for building APIs and backend applications. It’s fast, robust, and also quite popular. Node.js is single-threaded and asynchronous by design.

The framework is very scalable, highly performant, and open-source. It has a very active developer community and there are tons of tutorials and guides on how to use Node.js. It also comes with npm (node package manager), which is used to manage Node modules.

Here are some of the things you can do with Node.js:

  • Develop APIs that the frontend can consume
  • Generate dynamic page content
  • Create, read, and modify data within the database
  • Paste form data
  • Setup sessions
  • Encrypt data

Building Your Web Development Projects

Final How to Become A Web Developer

Once you’ve learned the basics of web development, it’s time to start building your projects. This is a great way to practice and hone your skills as a web developer.

Beginner-Level Projects to Build

Once you’re familiar with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you need to start from the basics. Beginner-level projects are perfect because they focus on the basic syntax and concepts. Engaging in these projects will help you learn the basics like marking up a page, and applying basic styling and scripting.

Here’s a list of beginner-level projects to choose from:

  • Landing Page
  • Survey form
  • Personal website
  • Business portfolio website
  • Calculator
  • To-do list app
  • Address book
  • Quiz game
  • Meme Generator

Intermediate-Level Projects to Build

The projects help you consolidate the basics while introducing you to some new concepts and syntax. If you’re familiar enough with the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and want to explore further, then intermediate projects are the way to go.

Here you’ll typically learn how to perform sleek transitions and animations, calculations, form handling, API setup, and other forms of common programming in JavaScript. You’ll also start working with databases and servers.

Here’s a list of intermediate-level projects to choose from:

  • Publicly accessible APIs
  • Multiplayer game
  • Sorting visualizer
  • Student result management system
  • Netflix clone with React

Open-source Resources to Build Your Project

There are a ton of open-source available to assist you in your web development process. This includes tools, libraries, books, documents, tutorials, and online communities.

An example of an open-source tool is VS Code, which is the editor used for web development. FreeCodeCamp also has a ton of open-source guides and courses. Communities like Dev.to and Hashnode are also great places to find fellow developers.

Building a Web Development Portfolio

Having a portfolio is important for web developers for several reasons:

Demonstrates Your Skill and Expertise

A portfolio showcases your web development projects and demonstrates your skills, experience, and expertise to potential clients and employers. Every single recruiter will want to see your portfolio to ascertain your skill level. This will help them find out if you’re the right fit for them.

Helps You Stand Out From the Competition

In a highly competitive job market, having a portfolio can help you stand out from other web developers who may not have a portfolio or may have less impressive projects.

Today dozens of platforms can help you with that. For example, Netlify allows you to host websites for free. Same with GitHub pages. So you don’t have to break the bank to make yourself unique.

Provides Tangible Evidence of Your Work

An outstanding portfolio shows that you know what you’re doing. An important tip to keep in mind when building your portfolio is to make all of your work easily accessible. In addition, ensure that all the functionalities are working properly.

Builds Your Confidence

A nice portfolio can serve as the ultimate confidence booster. It feels good to know that you built something interesting and useful. Confidence will surely convince the recruiter to give you a shot. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself and your ability, then why would someone else believe in you?

Provides Opportunity for Feedback and Improvement

Sharing your portfolio with other web developers and receiving feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your skills over time. As a developer, most of your project will come from the feedback you receive from others who are more skilled and more experienced than you.

One of the best ways to open yourself to feedback is by sharing your work on social media. Twitter, for example, has a large developer community who are always willing to help you with feedback and inputs.

Finding Web Development Jobs and Freelance Opportunities

The two main types of web development jobs are frontend web development and backend web development.

Front-end developers develop the parts of the website that you can see and interact with. Whereas, backend developers are in charge of building the part that users can’t see. This includes APIs, databases, server-side scripts, and so on.

Popular platforms to find web development jobs are Upwork, Fiverr, Freelance, and LinkedIn. Here are steps you should take when searching for a web development job or gig.

Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter

The first step is to prepare both your resume and cover letter. Your resume should contain information about your previous jobs and accomplishments, hobbies, and so on. Whereas, your cover letter should focus specifically on the job you’re applying to.

Inside your cover letter, you’ll communicate to the recruiter how you’re going to help their company grow. You’ll present skills that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Your message will be tailored for that company alone.

Preparing for Technical Interviews and Coding Challenges

You must take mock interviews to prepare yourself for the real deal. These interviews offer a great opportunity to hone your communication skills. You can go through the questions commonly asked during such interviews and plan your answers.

Programming challenges are also very helpful when preparing for your first role. These challenges help you work on your programming and critical thinking skills. Popular coding challenge platforms include Hackerank, Codewars, and TopCoder.

Finding Freelance Opportunities

There are so many benefits to becoming a freelance web developer. But one of the main advantages is freedom. Freelancers act as their bosses, find their clientele, do the work, and send invoices for payment.

As a freelancer, you can work from anywhere. Being self-employed means that you can take a vacation whenever you want. You aren’t tied to a physical location. You have the freedom to explore your passion projects without stress.

Popular platforms for finding freelance web development gigs include Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and LinkedIn.

Conclusion

This article is the perfect guide for aspiring web developers. Here we covered the ins and outs of web development and how to get started. We also covered HTML, CSS and JavaScript, Git, npm, and other tools used to build websites.

If you’re looking to go the freelance route, then we recommend that you start developing projects and create a resume/portfolio. It’s important that you create projects that are useful in real-life scenarios.

Prepare yourself for interviews by conducting mock interviews and engaging in coding challenges. Finally, use platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and LinkedIn to find web development jobs. All three of them are relatively easy to use, plus you can find tutorials on YouTube to help you master them.

Next Steps: What Now?

  • Get a computer with a modern browser and code editor installed
  • Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Start with beginner-level projects
  • Move to the intermediate-level projects
  • Start contributing to open-source
  • Build your portfolio and resume
  • Take mock interviews and coding challenges
  • Start looking for web development jobs and freelance opportunities
  • Get familiar with no-code tools

Further Reading: Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is web development?

Web development refers to the process of building and maintaining websites and web-based applications. Web development is divided into frontend and backend development. The frontend developer builds the front-facing part of the website while the backend developer builds the part that lives on the server.

What programming languages are used in web development?

Some of the most common programming languages used in web development include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and Python. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are frontend languages because they can be interpreted by the web browser. Node.js, PHP, and Python are used to create web server applications.

What are web development frameworks?

Web development frameworks are collections of pre-written code that can be used to streamline the development process for web-based applications and websites. Popular examples of such frameworks are React.js, Vue, Angular, and Node.js.

What are web development frameworks?

While a degree in computer science or a related field can be helpful, it is not always necessary to become a web developer. Many people learn web development skills through self-study and online resources.

Platforms like YouTube and Udemy are great sources for programming tutorials and courses. With Google, you can also find blog posts that explain web technologies and the process of creating web applications.

What are the necessary skills for web development?

Some of the key skills necessary for web development include proficiency in programming languages, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work collaboratively with others.

The languages you must be familiar with are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You should also know how to use tools like Git, VS Code, and the command line interface.

SSL Certificate Price: A Deep Dive Into Costs

After setting up your website, installing an SSL certificate on your hosting account is crucial for data security and creating a safe space fo...
10 min read
Yusuf Kareem
Yusuf Kareem
Hosting Expert

Exploring Website Load Time Statistics: Key Metrics & Insights

Have you ever visited a website and left so fast because the pages took too long to load? Website load time is a key metric used to measure...
9 min read
Walter Akolo
Walter Akolo
Hosting Expert

The Real Story Behind Website Maintenance Costs

Have you ever wondered what it takes to run and maintain a website? A common problem among many website owners today is that they don’t und...
12 min read
Walter Akolo
Walter Akolo
Hosting Expert

What Is a Custom Domain: Benefits (& How to Get One)

A custom domain is a unique and branded that serves as an identifier of a website or business name. Also known as personalized domains or vanity ...
9 min read
Sabrina Santiago
Sabrina Santiago
Content writer & manager
HostAdvice.com provides professional web hosting reviews fully independent of any other entity. Our reviews are unbiased, honest, and apply the same evaluation standards to all those reviewed. While monetary compensation is received from a few of the companies listed on this site, compensation of services and products have no influence on the direction or conclusions of our reviews. Nor does the compensation influence our rankings for certain host companies. This compensation covers account purchasing costs, testing costs and royalties paid to reviewers.