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.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Setting Up Your Web 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.
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
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.
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 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
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
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
Here’s a list of beginner-level projects to choose from:
- Landing Page
- Survey form
- Personal website
- Business portfolio website
- To-do list app
- Address book
- Quiz game
- Meme Generator
Intermediate-Level Projects to Build
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.
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
- 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