How To Become A Web Developer In 5 Steps | Wired Sussex

28 Jan 2021

28 Jan 2021

How To Become A Web Developer In 5 Simple Steps

Let’s face it, our phones and the internet have become an essential feature of our everyday life. Whether you use said device for swiping left (to find love), keeping abreast of the news or even, ahem, finding a job, it’s the role of a web developer to make these apps and websites functional. 

A highly fascinating, creative and dynamic role, with the potential to earn a decent salary, it’s no wonder web development is such a popular career choice. If you’re a school student, recently graduated or seeking a career change, and curious about how you can kick start your career in this field, there are some simple steps you can take to progress. Read on for our top tips and advice for becoming a web developer and, not only that, a good one to boot.

Step 1. Understand The Different Types Of Web Developer

Let’s get some basics cleared up, first of all. Web developer is a rather generic, one-size-fits-all term. In reality, there are many different types of web developer jobs that exist. Indeed, web development can be broken down into three streams: front-end (aka client-side), back-end (aka server-side) or full-stack (a combination of both).

To elaborate, front-end developers are concerned with everything that the web or app user experiences, well, on the front-end. Visual design and elements like font, layout, colour, menus and contact forms are all driven by this. Back-end developers, put plainly, focus on data, modelling and the back-end of a website or app. Some web developers are considered ‘full-stack’ as they have a thorough understanding of both streams of work.
It’s also possible to specialise in mobile app development, either for iOS or Android. Those who concentrate on iOS, an operating system used by Apple devices, are fluent in Swift. This is a programming language that Apple created specifically for their apps. Alternatively, Java is the official programming language for Android devices.

Step 2. Choose A Specialism & Develop Relevant Skills

Web developers are usually specialists in certain programming, mark up, style sheet and database languages. Which ones they are proficient in depends on their interests and career goals. Common programming languages for web development (both front and back-end) include Java, Python, JavaScript, CSS/HTML, C++, PHP, C, SQL, Ruby and Go. Ruby and Python are considered amongst the easiest to learn first if you’re a beginner. Alternatively, if you want to be more employable, Java skills tend to be in high demand.

In fact, prospective web developers should typically have expertise in the three core programming components: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. These apply to both back and front-end web development. HTML is the most used mark-up language across the web and developers use it to create web pages on the internet. Whilst HTML lays the foundation for a webpage, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to style it – we’re talking fonts, colours, layout, you name it. Finally, JavaScript is a programming language that was designed to run in web browsers. It makes a website dynamic, meaning it will respond to different inputs from the user or other sources.

Other skills and attributes that are required of a web developer include:

  • Responsive web design
  • Version control
  • Browser Development tools
  • Testing
  • Logical problem solver
  • Independent worker
  • Multitasking skills 

Step 3. Take Web Development Courses & Training

In terms of education, a web developer degree isn’t considered compulsory. That said, it can still be beneficial to undertake some form of web development, computer science or software engineering degree. At this level of education, broader web development principles are taught and practised. Generally, though, knowledge of code and having some form of recognised web development qualification is sufficient.

With that in mind, we’ve detailed a combination of short and long term courses below which should help kick start or accelerate your learning in this field. Some require existing knowledge or qualifications while others are for the complete novice. Once you’ve decided on an area of specialism, you can tailor your learning to more precise courses (i.e., a Ruby Developer course or Python Developer training): 

Step 4. Practice Coding & Join Online Communities

Online coding communities and platforms, like GitHub and Stack Overflow, are extremely valuable to web developers just starting out. The former is a forum where you can post projects you're working on, share code and receive real-time feedback and advice from fellow devs. Overflow is a coding related discussion board where 7 million developers interact through a Q&A format. Other useful communities, tools and resources online, which will help aid your progression, include Visual Studio Code, Dash, The Code Player, Programmer, DZone and Codrops. In fact, you’d be surprised at just how many resources there are available with a simple Google of ‘free online web development tools’.

Step 5. Create a Web Developer Portfolio

As with most jobs, it’s all well and good explaining what your skills are but, more often than not, employers want to see you put that into practice. The proof is in the pudding, after all. A killer web developer portfolio is the perfect tool for self-promotion. Our top tips? Firstly, keep things simple. As tempting as it may be to create a portfolio with complex features, a straightforward portfolio will still demonstrate your expertise sufficiently. Let your work take centre stage and only add things that are of value to your website. Secondly, user experience is key. Make it immediately obvious who you are and what you do. In addition to this, make sure your portfolio is easy to read, use and navigate both on desktop, tablet and mobile. Finally, if you decide to specialise in front-end development, be sure to check out our front-end developer portfolio tips that will crush your competition.

Web Developer Career & Employment

So, once you’ve learnt how to become a web developer, what’s next? Well, there’s scope to work as a web developer either in-house at an organisation, at a web development/marketing agency or as a freelancer. Working in-house is better suited to those who are particularly fascinated by a specific sector or employer. Agency work, on the other hand, tends to be more varied. Having said that, some web development agencies can have long standing relationships with a single large client. If that’s the case, the day to day work is unlikely to be as diverse – so that’s something to bear in mind. Lastly, working as a self-employed or freelance web developer will appeal if you desire more control over the projects you work on. On the flip side, being self-employed is generally associated with more unpredictability and stress. So, it’s important to choose your subsequent steps wisely.

What’s more, web developer jobs are in demand globally which can provide incredible travel opportunities. More locally, however, the Sussex web development community is thriving. Here are just some of the companies based in Sussex that frequently recruit for web developers:

What Is A Typical Web Developer Salary In The UK?  

Now we’ve discussed the necessary skills and employment options, it’s time we cut to the chase - let’s talk money! As a guide, a junior web developer who’s just starting out can expect to earn in the region of £20k per year. For someone who is more established in their career, and has more specialist skills, the average web developer salary is roughly £50k. Finally, lead web developers can expect to earn even more in big cities such as London or if they are employed by a large company.

Next steps.... 
Are you seeking a web developer job in Sussex? Here at Wired Sussex, we love to connect job seekers with employers! Check out the companies that are currently recruiting via our jobs board.