Web development is an ever-evolving industry. Recently web development has started to go well beyond programming and becoming multi-faceted. The line separating web design and web development is now becoming blurry, with a lot of web developers now increasingly adept at creating front-end website designs.
Why Do Web Developers Need To Learn New Skills?
Web developers need to constantly upgrade their skills to avoid getting left behind and ensure that their dev profile is looking good.
Sure, there are thousands of web development jobs available in the market these days. Unfortunately, there are also thousands of people chasing these jobs. If you want to stand out amongst all the noise and competition you need to ensure that you’re up to date, and ideally ahead of the curve.
Different Work Opportunities
Having more skills opens up different avenues for work. It’s not good to be a jack of all trades, but building your knowledge in specific areas of web development (Optimisatoin / SEO etc) skills can get you connected to a different set of potential clients. They can also allow you to climb the ladder later in your career (project management) and move into managing teams of web developers rather than directly doing the work yourself.
Skills That Web Developers Should Develop
If you are serious about building a web development career these are ten skills that you need. The first five are really the foundation of your job and the last five areas that you should think about as they are ways to offer additional value to clients as they go through the development process :
You cannot call yourself a web developer if you aren’t comfortable with HTML code. It is the basis of almost all websites and you need to be comfortable working with it.
If HTML is the bare body, then CSS is the clothes.
CSS manages the visual placement of web elements, making it a vital skill for any front-end developer or web designer.
Ever since cascading style sheets were invented in 1997, web developers have been able to very quickly and simply update the appearance of multiple pages very simply.
As for HTML above this is a foundational skill. You probably work in CSS everyday but you need to be very comfortable with CSS given how much is based on it.
Rather than a foundational skill this is intermediate but still very widely expected unless you are pursuing a particular niche in web development. More than 80 percent of websites today use PHP, and this includes Facebook, Wikipedia, and websites that run on WordPress.
This nifty open source programming language allows you to create dynamic web pages that communicate with a web server to manage and serve content.
MySQL is the database that is generally used in conjunction with PHP. If PHP allows you to manage and serve content, SQL is the language that is used to work with the MySQL database that you will be using to store and process all of your data and content.
SQL has been around since the 1970’s when databases were first invented. There are plenty of online resources available to help you pick this up if you’re not 100% confident.
6. Web Design
Demonstrating creativity and and an understanding of aesthetics will boost your credibility. Yes you may not be a full-time designer but suggesting small improvements and being design aware will always be value-added.
Some of the most important web design skills that you should look at include include typography, photography (rule of thirds, anyone?), and page layout.
It doesn’t matter how great a website is if no-one sees it. On larger projects specialist SEOs will probably be involved but for smaller developments being able to provide SEO guidance will be valuable.
This is especially applicable where SEO meets web development.
Not all SEO relates to links and content. Page load speed, sitemap creation, mobile friendliness, URL structure, https/http are all factors in SEO.
As a web developer, you need to know how to create and edit visual elements. While there are lots of packages out there that allow you to do this Adobe is by far the most widely used package.
Mastering the Adobe suite is a full-time job but being proficient in Adobe will save you huge amounts of time. Again there are plenty of article on top Adobe productivity tips out there as a place to get started.
Taking the time to understanding how to use of Actions in Photoshop and a knowledge of shortcut keys, at a minimum, is well worth it.
9. Project Management
Developing large websites – especially those with complex integration of front-end and back-end elements – and websites for large companies often involves a lot of stakeholders.
If you aspire to work on these types of projects then learning project management is a pre-requisite.
You can start with simple progress monitoring and reporting and work your way up to working on resource allocation and critical path work.
10. Automation and Performance Optimization
A recent skill that has been very popular is streamlining the code to generate lean-but-mean pages. The aim is to speed up the website by making the code lighter or creating shortcuts through the process.
Web development is increasingly more than programming and code – it’s offering more of a complete professional package. To become indispensable to your client you need to be good on the core of your job of course, but also look at ways to offer additional value.