How to Become a Web Developer

Web development is a much-needed skill that can be performed either as a freelancer, webmaster in a company, or as a part-time consultant. With the emergence of more content management platforms and web development paths, this is the time to be part of the web developers changing all facets of the economy one website at a time.

So how does it all come together? Let’s learn about web development and the role of a web developer.

In this brief guide, we will cover the basics of web development, the brief process of creating and deploying a website, and additional resources for anyone desiring to learn more about development and or become a developer.

How to Start a Career in Web Development

Career in Web Development

There are several paths to use to become a web developer, depending on what level in your life you are currently in, whether you are just starting off your post-high school/tertiary education, just completed your undergraduate degree, or are mid-career and wanting to switch roles/ careers, you are well able to achieve your career goal of becoming a web developer. 

In the past years with limited online resources, it used to be that someone has to go through formal computer science, or ICT-related courses such as software development to start a career as a web developer, but with the advent of thousands of online learning platforms and tools, coupled with many free online videos, it is much easier to start and build a successful career as a web developer.

Let’s now delve into the steps of becoming a successful web developer:

6 Steps to Become a Web Developer

Steps to Become a Web Developer

Step 1: Learning the Fundamentals of Web Development 

Web development is the collection of processes and activities that go into the making of a website. It includes researching, planning, building a website, and deploying it on the web. Website development requires the use of one or several markups and scripting languages both at the server and client end, network configuration, and CMS development.

From the basic static website to a dynamic database-powered website, it is possible to start from ‘hello world’ to build one of the most advanced and interactive, real-time cab-hailing websites.

Before we go further, it is important that you can begin and specialize in one of the web-building roles. Website developers thus may take one of the three specialized roles available as we will cover in the next segment.

Step 2: Web Development Specialization (Types of Specialization)

Types of Web Development

Web developers are entirely responsible for the creation of the look and feel or design of what you see whenever you visit an online shop or university learning management system, as well as the logic or rules that power the website. Below are the three main types of web development:

Front-end web development

Think about a house or a car, for example, the fenders, the doors, the look, the paint theme, so front-end web development otherwise known as client-side scripting, refers to everything that the end-user or your website visitors see and experience when they load the website. This includes the color, buttons, web forms, banners, and carousels.

Client-side code executes in a web browser and directly relates to what people see when they visit a website. How items and properties like layout, images, fonts, colors, menus, and contact forms appear on all devices including desktops, tablets,s, and mobile – are all driven by the frontend.

The type of coding or programming tools that are used for the front-end development include The HyperText Markup Language or HTML, JavaScript for functionality and behavior, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for appearance/presentation.

As a Front-end developer, you will also be required to perform custom and wide usability tests and fix any programming bugs that arise. This is to ensure that end-users have the best experience while using the website on a responsive platform that is accessible on all devices including mobile, tablet, desktop, and larger display form factors such as TVs. You will also be required to factor in search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, maintain the standard software workflow management and develop useful tools that enhance website usability across platforms, and on any browser be it chromium-based like Chrome, Brave or Safari, and others like the Firefox, which use the Gecko rendering engine and Opera.

Front-end developers always have to be on the lookout and keep abreast of the latest and most savvy trends in web design and development to ensure that the websites they develop, upgrade or manage are continuously optimized for users, search engines, and security updates, and day-to-day best practices.

Back-end web development

Back-end web development or Server-side scripting is the opposite and complement of the front-end side discussed above. Think about it as the engine and computers that ensure the car is working.

Back-end development is responsible for building and maintaining the code that runs a website. This includes data updates and organization to ensure that the front end or client-side runs seamlessly and smoothly.

The backend code links the website with the server in such a way that data flows to the website accordingly in the correct format and that all transactions are handled and returned correctly.

As with the front end, the back end has certain programming languages that are used to build it, these include but are not limited to Java which is used to manage and reduce implementation dependencies, but is different from JavaScript, PHP, a general-purpose scripting language used for web development, and MySQL – an open-source relational database management system. Most websites typically run on a form of the relational database management system (RDBMS).

There are other newer tools that are being used lately which include Python, Ruby, and Golang. This tells us that Back-end web developers also need to keep up with new changes in technology by actively being involved in developer communities, sharing, and tweaking coding scripts as well as supporting each other to build better back-end systems.

Full-stack web development

Full-stack web development on the other hand is a hybrid of both Front-End and Back-End jobs. Think about a mechanic who can not only design a car but build it from the body to the engine.

A full-stack developer will have his/her role cut out depending on the complexity and purpose of a website. However, as much as the full-stack developers may be responsible for both the server-side to the user interface they may still choose to be highly specialized and only focus on one aspect of the web development.

Their dual role and broad experience are however useful for troubleshooting or ensuring that a web dev project is done in a fast and efficient way to deliver the website to the client in the shortest time possible.

Step 3: Key Programming Languages to Master for Web Development

Learning programming through education such as boot camps, online tutorials, degree

To become a successful Web Developer, it is very important that one must first complete education to learn basic coding and programming skills. Here, you will have a choice to enroll in a computer science degree, where the following core courses are taught; key programming languages, system design, database, and data management, among others.

Online courses, boot camps, and tutorials are another way to earn your website development skills, other details will fall in place after, as you will see from points 2 to 5.

Let’s start with boot camps, online coding tutorials, and lastly, online courses.

Coding Bootcamps

Bootcamps usually take about 8-12 weeks, they are in-person intensive marathon programmes where students engage in coding all day for the entire period of the particular course. However, boot camps do have some limitations and may not be a perfect fit for everyone, for example, fees may be too high, and time allocated may not be available due to other responsibilities such as jobs and parenting that would prevent full-time participation.

Online Coding Tutorials

Online tutorials come in several forms, some have a limited entry period while others are self-learning where you can take as much time as possible to learn. Here you will find all levels, from Beginner to Advanced.

Online learning platforms like Coursera, EDx, Lynda, freeCodeCamp, and AXL-T often offer free to low-cost tutorials. You will also come across programming languages that have their own official courses, for example, Python and Ruby online beginners’ guides.

Online Coding Courses

This is the third and most suitable way of taking on learning web development skills. Here you will mostly enroll in an hour-a-day, three-month, 6-month to a yearlong paid course online led by an instructor. Here you will get a hybrid of several structures we have detailed above, including the Bootcamp, but with the flexibility of home learning.

Courses offered here are specialty paths, for example, Web Development Fundamentals, Front End Development, Back End Development, etc.

A great example is the ALX Transforms Tech programme, a fully-funded scholarship providing 60,000 Udacity Tech Nanodegree Programmes for African youth in 10 countries to enable them to become future leaders and entrepreneurs.

Step 4: Work on Projects to Develop Web Development Skills

You have now deservedly earned your degree, after qualifying for the Udacity Tech Nanodegree Programme. After the celebrations to mark this key milestone in your life, it’s now time to get out there and grab as many industry-based internships as you can as this is one of the best pathways to learn practical career skills under a mentor. And it’s here where you’ll gain your first working experience as a budding web developer.

Here you will handle basic tasks and keep advancing in your role as you gain more developer experience, you will also be able to put into practice what you learned in college and also incorporate other tips and styles from your seniors at the workplace.

This is also a chance to learn more about developer communities and gigs. Some existing communities include Stack Overflow, Reddit, and Mozilla Development Network, among others.

Step 5: Building a Web Development Portfolio

After your scholarship with ALX, you will most likely start taking on projects where you become an associate or lead web developer. At this juncture, it is important to start listing your achievements – and this becomes your portfolio.

Your portfolio is like a photo album that showcases the work you have done, complete with a brief description of what went into each project, programming languages used, as well as CSS or CMS framework used.

Step 6: Web Development Certification

There are several certifications and badges that are available in the web development industry; these, coupled with your degree, can give you a smooth entry into new roles because they are proof of what you have earned in your path to success.

Most exam-based certifications would come from top companies like Microsoft, Zend, Google, Adobe, and Amazon.

Other organizations offer specialized and curated certifications, examples include the ALX Full Stack Web Developer certification that takes you approximately 3 months, which is roughly 10 hours/week. Here you will get Beginner-level experience in Python and earn a qualification to work as either a Front-end, Back-end, or Full-stack Developer.

Thereafter, build your resume

Last but not least, continuously strive and ensure that you build a resume that works hand in hand with your portfolio.  A good resume should make you stand out as the better job candidate, highlighting the certifications and qualifications (all offered by ALX Full Stack Web Development Programme) that you’ve earned thus far to build your skills.

Demand for a Web Developer in 2022

The world is now powered by online services and without these one would basically not be able to do much. From office work, ordering supplies, cab or food online, studying, accessing government services, and many more. All these depend on visiting a website or a web application.

This has been accelerated by the covid pandemic which has forced organizations, companies, and even academic institutions to offer exclusive online goods, services, and even college degrees and certifications. As early as 2020, the employment of web developers and digital interface designers had been projected to grow 12.8 percent from 2020 to 2030.

A Mckinsey survey found out that COVID-19 has sped up digital transformation and technologies by several years – and many of the changes could be here for the long haul, meaning web developers are among roles that would constantly need to be replenished as more hires will be likely due to services online.


Can you become a Web Developer without a Degree?

As we have seen above it is possible to be an established web developer without earning a degree. Certifications like those received with the ALX Nanodegree Programmes enable you to get modern skills to power the online economy.

How fast can you become a Web Developer?

You can gain the basic skills within a 3 month period and begin taking on web development gigs.

Is it hard to become a Web Developer?

Becoming a web developer is not hard, it depends on your interest and how fast you internalize the online courses. ALX certifications make it seamless and easy to gain the necessary skills.

How long does it take to become a web developer?

It takes about 3 – 6 months to gain notable skills, three for basic learning and 3 for industrial experience.

It all depends on how much time and space you allocate for real work practice.

Can I become a web developer by myself?

Yes, indeed you can become a web developer, just go to ALX and select a beginner course and you will be on your way to becoming the next big thing.

Can I learn web development in 3 months?

It is possible to gain the necessary basic skills to start your journey as a web developer, visit ALX and start now. 

What next?

This guide gives you a basic pathway to becoming a successful Web Developer. However, you might not take these specific paths but still end up being a successful web developer. For example, your organization may start a blog built on the WordPress CMS and you end up managing it and learning how to change the template or look and feel. And just like that, you eventually start taking on individual web development jobs.

The most important thing to know is that you must learn the basic building structures of web development that including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and MySQL if you will need a database to handle your website type.

Happy Learning and Happy Web Development.


Manno Notermans

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