In a nutshell, a web developer creates websites and applications. In this role, you would be responsible for taking a job brief from the client (often coming down from a project manager), using a web platform (CMS) or custom development based on a coding framework to build, create and design the look and back-end of a new website, or maintaining an existing website.
A web developer must also have an overall knowledge of the process of website creation. For example, a web developer is very different from simply a webmaster, who would mainly work on small changes and possibly some back-end maintenance once the website is built. A web developer, on the other hand, looks at the complete picture and has a variety of aspects to consider.
Primarily a web developer needs to have a rich knowledge of multiple web language and Content Management Systems. You would commonly need to regularly switch between platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, Symfony and Joomla. This requires you to constantly update your knowledge of platform varieties.
To do well in this role, you need to have in depth knowledge of HTML protocol between a web server and a web browser, so an understanding of the common web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox is required.
Because you may be building a website from scratch, you will also need experience and a good current knowledge base of information architecture, usability engineering, CMS, DNS, database administration, software engineering and SEO.
On top of the technical side, you also need to think like a real person. Most people like to get on their computer, open their browser and search for a website. They are not thinking in HTML, so even though you design the site on a certain platform, you must write it in such a way that an everyday person can easily use it, without scratching their heads in the process.
Easy navigation and over all user experience would be some of the most sought after features on a website. A person searching online wants to be able to find things easily and quickly, without having to stare at the screen for hours trying to find a page that is hidden down by the footer. Ensure that you are aware of the client's needs and desires, and that important pages and features are easy to find.
Before submitting the finished product to the client, check that the forms embedded throughout the site all work. Nothing is worse than presenting the website to the client, only to discover that when a customer makes an enquiry via an online form the email is sent to the incorrect place, or simply isn't sent at all.
Finally, it is important to understand payment gateways, which are used to take secure credit card payments online. Some clients will have an existing CRM or database, with which they will need you to integrate a gateway in with.
This blog is the fourth in our eight part series exploring what it's like to have a career in the digital world. Our next piece will take a look at the ins and outs of being a digital designer.
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Want to know more about careers in digital or what a digital agency can offer you? Check out our blog series on Careers in Digital.