Being a web developer is a very lucrative career pivot especially because of the high starting salaries and flexibility that come with it. Before you become a web developer, you will need to learn and build your skills in web development which can help land you entry-level tech roles. The web industry often hires developers based on their portfolio and code, not based on your previous job experience.
Web development is the process of taking the plans and layouts created by web designers, then coding them into live, functioning websites. Web developers, also called programmers, are the people who do it.
Where to Start
There are lot of languages and tools you can use to build for the web. All of them have their benefits and are maintained by tons of super-smart people. While this is great for pushing the web forward, it’s confusing and overwhelming to start.
FRONT END PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) defines the parts of web pages to the web browsers that visit them. When you access a site through your phone, tablet, or computer browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) those browsers are able to read HTML content and translate it into what you see on the screen. HTML is the language that defines which part of the page is a header, which is a footer, where paragraphs belong, where images, graphics, and videos are placed, etc.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a sister language to HTML. It’s used after the parts of a page are defined, and specifies the page’s style. Page layouts, colors, and fonts are all selected and implemented through CSS. In other words, if HTML is the foundation of a house, CSS is the interior and exterior decorating decisions.
BACK END PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES
These are some of the go-to coding languages used for back end web development.
PHP (which stands for—get this—PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a scripting language used in “server-side” (back end) web development. Server-side activity involves a web browser sending requests to a web server (the software or hardware that stores websites pages, images, media, and other assets), which then responds to the request with HTML code that is turned into the content on the user’s screen.
RUBY AND RUBY ON RAILS
Ruby is “a dynamic, open-source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity.” In other words, it’s free to use and its users are allowed to study, change, and distribute the language to anyone and for any purpose (that’s the open-source part), while its syntax is designed to mimic non-machine language as much as possible (the part about being focused on simplicity and productivity.
Python is an “object-oriented” programming language that can be used for front end and back end scripting in web development (with a majority of its use coming on the back end). Object-oriented languages (like Python) allow programmers to create virtual objects in their code and give each of these objects unique attributes and abilities. All of the objects a developer creates are then able to interact with each other or perform actions on their own.
Through this object model, object-oriented programming languages like Python reduce complexity for developers by mimicking real-world building dynamics and giving programmers a clear structure to work with. Objects can be isolated and maintained separately from the rest of their code (making it easier to locate and repair bugs), and once created—they can be easily reused in future programs.
WordPress is the industry-leading CMS (Content Management System), a type of software program that lets web developers create, publish, and manage digital content online. By using a CMS like WordPress, they’re able to do all of this through a user interface where changes are reflected immediately after pressing a “Publish” button (as opposed to the less streamlined experience of coding sites from scratch).
While complete tech newcomers can use WordPress out of the box by following menu cues in the user interface and selecting pre-existing site templates, one you build up skills like HTML, CSS, and PHP you’ll be able to create your own WordPress page templates and site features, giving you the same kind of options for customization you’d have when coding from scratch.
Because of this versatility, the WordPress CMS is a widely-used tool for building sites that will appeal to side hustle clients as well as full-time employers. (Web technology survey site W3Techs cites WordPress CMS as owning 60 percent of worldwide CMS usage.) Simply knowing how to build basic websites with WordPress is enough to open up work as a WordPress developer, and WordPress’ sliding skill scale will allow you to learn gradually as you go—all qualities that speak to the wisdom of WordPress specialization.