But hold on – you should also know that before a web developer actually writes any code, there are a number of steps, and several other disciplines may be involved: User Interface experts, Information Architects, Interaction Designers and of course, Visual Designers. Sketches may have been drawn, flowcharts created, navigation and interfaces designed and even prototypes built, but ultimately, someone has to sit down and write the code! The front end web developer is that person. They actually get to build the final site.
HTML – your first step
Your journey begins with HTML. Originally, webpages were built only with HTML (and subsequently didn’t look very exciting). There’s more going on in modern webpages, but HTML is still absolutely essential. HTML provides a library of ‘tags’ which define various page elements – headings, paragraphs, lists, sections, images etc. Web developers often refer to HTML as providing the structure of the page. HTML alone won’t create a modern webpage though – here’s a page from 1994, before CSS was introduced:
CSS – it’s all about presentation
Once you have the basics of HTML (and that doesn’t take long), you’ll need to learn how to write CSS. Everything from fonts and colour to page layouts and responsive design and beyond. So, a visual designer may provide an exact specification for a button – colour, shape and size, font, positioning, how the button responds to the mouse, basically everything to do with the button’s appearance. CSS is used to implement the design. Your designer is happy!
Your journey continues
Web developers may be expected to have a good understanding of a wide range of topics including SEO, animation, image optimisation, video User Interface design, UX… And then there are ‘assistive technologies’ – solutions that speed up the development process in different ways: Frameworks such as Bootstrap or Foundation and CSS pre-processors such as SASS or LESS.
The journey towards becoming a web developer doesn’t simply stop at the end of the line – it’s a lifelong learning experience. Our industry changes constantly, and one of the exciting challenges is keeping abreast of new technologies and techniques, and staying as close as possible to the cutting edge!
Ready to get started?
The Web School provides a wide range of web development courses at all levels – from beginner to advanced, as well as certification packages. If you’re ready to jump in, our intensive HTML | CSS & Web Principles course covers HTML and CSS to an intermediate level – a great way to get up and running quickly.