13 Web Developer Skills You Should Have

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By DeVry University

December 8, 2022
9 min read

Web development is a blanket term used to describe the work involved in building and developing websites. This broad description covers everything from a single, static web page to complex applications for e-commerce and social networking.

Web developer skills are often applied to the non-design aspects of building websites – writing markup and coding. Web developers may also use content management systems (CMS) to make content changes easier for other developers or end-users who may lack technical skills. Web designers and user interface designers are more likely to work on the user experience side of this process, making decisions about page styles, colors, images, type font selection and other details.

Driven by their love of technology and creative problem-solving skills, web developers use a variety of natural and acquired web development skills in their work. They can specialize in front-end development, which means they work on user-side features, or back-end development, which involves data storage and security. The term “full stack web development” simply refers to development involving both front-end and back-end processes.

What skills do you need to be a web developer? In this article we’ll spell out 13 web developer skills that can be useful to someone pursuing this career path.

1. Front-end Coding

To work as a web developer, you must be familiar with three basic programming languages used in building the front end (the user-interface side) of websites. 

The standard markup language for building web pages is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is the language used to create the page’s layout, colors, fonts and style. It’s also the language used to be sure websites are attractive and functional on different devices and screen sizes. To be effective in the fundamentals of web development, you will need to be proficient in both languages.

Finally, JavaScript is a language that allows web developers to add interactive features to keep visitors more engaged with websites. JavaScript is also the language that enables features like drag-and-drop functions, dropdown menus, the ability to play both audio and video and a long list of other things that can happen when we hover over or click on images and other elements in a website.

2. Git

Web developers use something called a version control system to track and revise code changes. Git is a code versioning technology that allows them to keep track of the changes they’ve made in code and then go back and review them before making further changes. Many people consider this skill a must-have for full-stack web developers working under tight deadlines.

GitHub is a cloud-based Git repository hosting service that allows web developers to keep track of and share their Git version control projects outside of their local computer or server. 

3. Responsive Design

The widespread use of mobile devices has made responsive website design an absolute necessity. The term responsive means the website will automatically adapt itself to the size of different screens – such as computers, tablets and smart phones – and function equally well on all of them. 

A few of the benefits of a responsive website include improved user experience, increased mobile traffic, faster website loading times and better SEO performance. This is crucial for ecommerce sites, enabling increasingly mobile consumers to browse, shop and pay all on their mobile devices. 

As a web designer, you will be expected to understand this and make responsiveness a key part of your web development process.

4. Back-end Web Programming Languages

Back-end development languages, or codes, connect the web to a database, keep track of users’ connections and run web applications. Back-end developers are generally concerned with the operation of a website, writing the code that controls its functionality. The consumer never sees the back-end developer’s work because it’s, well, in the background.

Well known back-end web programming languages include:

  • PHP, or PHP Hypertext Preprocessor: A general-purpose scripting language used in the development of server-side applications. It has a large ecosystem of users who’ve built libraries, automation tools and frameworks to make it easier to use.   
  • Java: A versatile, object-oriented programming language that is widely used for developing enterprise-scale web applications, desktop and scientific applications and in big data. It ranked third in popularity on the TIOBE Index for November 2022, behind C and Python.
  • Ruby: Often recommended for beginners, Ruby is known for flexibility and is used extensively in the back-end web development process. Its advantages include time efficiency and a human-friendly syntax.
  • C# (pronounced C-Sharp): Created on the foundations of the widely used programming language C, C# is used in the development of games, mobile applications and more, and is known for its efficiency and ability to run codes faster across Android, iOS and Linux platforms. 
  • Python: Popular in data science, machine learning, web frameworks, embedded systems, gaming and network development, Python is recognized by many as an easier and more efficiently written alternative to languages like C and Java that perform similar functions.

5. SEO

Because clients want websites that perform well in search results, it’s important for the web developer’s work to be infused with a deep understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). A partial list of SEO-oriented skills for web developers includes:

  • Coding pages efficiently so they will load quickly and be more visible to search engines
  • Writing reader-friendly URLs
  • Making it easy for search engine crawlers to analyze your pages
  • Making sites mobile-friendly
  • Using redirects correctly when site pages have been updated

6. UX and UI Design

UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are both important web designer skills because they are both integral to the process of planning and building any digital platform. But what’s the difference between the two? Think of UX design as the architecture of a digital project, and UI design as the interior design.

UX designers perform important project architecture tasks like creating and evaluating user journeys based on data and insights, and producing design deliverables to illustrate user experiences. These may include storyboards, user flows, wireframes and prototypes.

UI designers typically focus more on the visual and interactive elements of web development. They gather and evaluate user requirements in collaboration with UX designers, product managers and engineers, and design graphic user interface components like page navigation buttons and search fields.

7. Program Frameworks

In web development, programming is chock-full of common tasks that most applications must solve. For example, when you type in the URL of a website, the application must resolve that URL and perform the necessary actions to bring up that website in your browser. This involves typing many lines of code that are nearly identical. Rather than typing lines of code repeatedly from scratch, programmers can use frameworks to save time and perform repetitive tasks. 

Well-known front-end frameworks you should be familiar with as a web developer include Angular and React. Flutter, Xamarin, Ionic and React Native are well known in the mobile development space. 

8.  Testing and Debugging

A website or application that functions flawlessly is the result of hours of programming, and more hours of testing and debugging. If you work as a web developer, you can expect to spend a good portion of your time doing this. It’s the web developer’s equivalent of editing and proofreading – going through the website and looking for coding faults and irregularities that affect the functionality or security of the site and resolving them. 

This process requires patience and persistence, and is closely related to our next two skills – problem solving and attention to detail. 

9. Problem Solving

The process of identifying a problem, developing possible solutions and taking the appropriate course of action is a skill that can be acquired through practice or technical training. As a web developer you may find yourself engaged in problem solving every day, using appropriate methods to confront unexpected challenges in an organized manner.  

You could say that your interest in programming itself indicates that you might be a good problem-solver. You are attempting to solve the problem of what to do as a career. As you begin to learn more about this career path, you’re solving problems. If you enroll in a related technology bachelor’s degree or certificate program, you’ll be solving problems with each new course and assignment. Ultimately, as you begin working as a web developer, you may find yourself putting this skill to work in planning, coding, testing and debugging web applications.

10. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is a skill every web developer should have. Faulty code can cause applications to function poorly, not function at all or become a security breach waiting to happen. As we covered earlier in this article, web developers spend a good deal of time going back over their work, checking and rechecking code to be sure the application or website is functioning as intended. In this job, paying attention to the details is vital. It can pay off in the form of job satisfaction for you and successful outcomes for your clients or employers.

11. Content Management Systems (CMS)

Content management systems (CMS) enable people without training or experience in coding to build websites and manage their content. They combine a simple user interface (UI) with third-party plugins that can substantially increase a site’s functionality. WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, Wix and Weebly are all examples of popular content management systems.

If you’ve chosen to pursue a career in web development, your interest may have been sparked by some previous experience with a CMS. If you want to get paid to build websites and are less interested in application development, you might find success working with one or more of the CMSs mentioned here. Either way, anyone pursuing a web development career should acquire CMS skills.

12. Strong Communication Skills

Never underestimate the importance of interpersonal skills. Strong verbal and written communication skills are desired traits that show up on innumerable job descriptions, and for good reason. As a web developer, you may be called upon to explain a programming or functionality problem, or a solution that you’ve found to individuals without knowledge of programming languages or with no technical background at all. You might communicate with them by email, phone or in person. The ability to make complex subjects understandable to others, enabling them to make decisions, form action plans and solve problems, is a skill that can serve you well throughout your career.  

13. Creativity 

Creativity is an important skill in nearly any occupation. In general, creativity promotes problem solving, encourages a positive work environment and helps people navigate change. Thinking outside the box may be a cliché, but the ability to throw out preconceptions and use unconventional thinking in planning, programming and problem solving is nothing to scoff at.

Does creativity mean having award-winning design skills? Not necessarily. You may find that even if the front-end design decisions are left completely to art directors and UI designers, opportunities to use creativity in the functionality of web applications are many.

Creativity is also an important element of problem solving. To any single problem there might be several proposed solutions, ranging from the mundane to the brilliant. By maintaining a creative mindset you’ll be more likely to experience those ah-ha moments.

Conclusion

Web developers use a range of technical, analytical and creative skills in their work. The 13 web development skills we’ve outlined here can help you prepare to pursue opportunities in this broad and ever-changing area of the information technology industry. If you have a love of all things tech and consider yourself a good problem solver, web development might be a career path for you to pursue.

Get Started on Your Journey to a Web Development Career with DeVry

You can learn many of the skills required to create interactive, data-focused and user-driven website experiences with our 100% online Web Development Certificate. In as few as 10 courses, our Web Development Certificate program covers multimedia integration, database methodology, content creation and management and software and programming proficiency. This program can also prepare you to pursue industry credentials like the Adobe® Certified Professional (ACP). Classes start every 8 weeks.

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