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What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web designers and developers (WDD) are the creative individuals behind the layouts and designs of websites and Web pages. The digital destinations these designers create can be as simple as a one-page personal resume or as media-rich as an online magazine or e-commerce emporium.

Businesses and individuals rely on compelling Web design to do everything from communicate a message to entertain or sell products and services. Web designers help their clients achieve these goals using an array of design tools and visual messaging techniques. In addition to visual art fundamentals such as color and form, Web designers work with the end-user in mind to incorporate interactive media features such as video and animation, e-commerce payment systems, advertising and more.

Web design as a discipline brings together creative vision and technical skills. Designers possess an eye for effective online presentation as well as the programming ability to execute the design. A basic understanding of marketing principles such as branding and merchandising helps Web designers establish themselves as digital marketing design experts.

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Table of Contents

Web Development & Design Degrees and Training

Web Development Degrees and Training Table of Contents

There are many options available when it comes to web designer education. Several universities and colleges now offer a Bachelor's Degree in Web Design and Development. This degree comes in a number of variations, such as:

  • Web Design and Multimedia
  • Web Design and Interactive Media
  • Web Development and Rich Media
  • Web Development and Digital Media

Some WDDs start with a bachelor's degree in graphic design, visual communications, or another related field, and then pick up more technical education either through a second degree program, or via separate courses offered by technical schools or colleges. Outside of university or college programs, there are courses dedicated to many of the specific tools and programming languages used in Web development and design. These courses come in many different formats, like the following:

  • Instructor-led classroom training, from technical schools as well as colleges/universities.
  • Instructor-led online classes, which take place in real-time.
  • Self-paced online training, which often uses streaming video courseware.
  • Self-paced packaged training kits, with both software and book-form content.

The following is a breakdown of the most common tools and programming languages a WDD will want to look at when building an overall training strategy.

As the visual and structural complexity of websites continues to advance, so has the selection of tools web developers use to create them. The following is a breakdown of some of the prominent tool sets a prospective web designer should potentially have in their repertoire.

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Quark

Quark's design and publishing software products are used across a gamut of industries for creating and publishing materials on the Web, tablets and other digital media. Quark training offers professionals a way to digitally publish their material without requiring knowledge of coding or programming.

Quark courses can bring these professionals up to speed on the company's digital publishing solutions and platforms. The Quark website describes dynamic publishing tools that combine the power of XML with flexible layout and design to automate the delivery of customized communications across print, the Internet and digital media. For example, Quark App Studio allows users to design and publish iPad apps.

Quark training provides instruction on the basic and advanced functionality of various products and a range of topics. For example, the QuarkEd course contains modules that cater to students of all ability levels, including these subjects:

  • Layout construction
  • Text and typography
  • Page elements
  • Color management
  • Interactive layouts

A number of different training platforms are available on the company website, including free video tutorials, on-demand e-seminars, step-by-step guides, community forums and live events, such as the "App Bootcamp." A free 30-day test drive with QuarkXPress offers students a hands-on introduction to the software's features and functionality. In addition, a number of third-party vendors offer instructor-led courses in Quark products as well.

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Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud, formerly known as Adobe Creative Suite, is a configurable set of applications offered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription-based bundle. Several Creative Cloud applications are widely-used mainstays of Internet programming and content creation, including the following products:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Dreamweaver
  • Muse
  • Flash Professional
  • Edge Animate and Code
  • Fireworks

Designers and graphic artists often use Creative Cloud on a daily basis to complete the following projects:

  • Web page design
  • Online and print advertisements
  • Online and print newspapers
  • Quarterly reports
  • Book jackets
  • Posters
  • Promotional materials

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Visual Basic .NET

Microsoft Visual Basic .NET training prepares IT professionals for crucial roles as application developers and corporate technology architects. Even though other programming platforms get more attention in today's popular press, Visual Basic .NET still underpins critical software in many of the world's biggest companies. In fact, as Microsoft edges its way into cloud deployments on its Windows Azure platform, employers seek VB.NET professionals who can preserve existing code while adding new functions and modules that leverage distributed computing technology.

Microsoft publishes numerous guides to help certification candidates prepare for exams. However, most IT professionals enjoy the best professional development experiences by matching their learning styles to VB.NET courses. Classroom courses inspire real-time collaboration, preparing students to work in teams. Online VB.NET courses help students quickly and conveniently add Visual Basic to their repertoires, while asynchronous video and software-based courses allow experienced coders to translate experience to a new platform. Wide availability of professional Visual Basic training makes this popular programming language accessible to most aspiring developers.

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ASP .NET

ASP.NET (ASP stands for "Active Server Pages") is a Microsoft framework for creating dynamic Web sites and applications. To see ASP.NET in action, look no further than Microsoft's corporate website. In the address bar, you will see the suffix ".aspx" at the end of the URL, which denotes that you are viewing an Active Server Page. ASP.NET leverages other Web standards like JavaScript and HTML to create highly-interactive websites.

Students can readily find ASP.NET training programs that match their learning styles and their career goals. Although many IT degree programs offer opportunities for Visual Studio training, developers often enroll in standalone ASP.NET courses. Classroom-based courses appeal to students who prefer to collaborate with teams in person, while online classes offer flexibility for students trying to schedule their professional development around work and family commitments. Regardless of the style of course, formal ASP.NET training offers students a platform on which they can build the kind of code portfolio employers want to see from prospective developers.

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Microsoft Visual Studio

Not just a single programming language, Microsoft Visual Studio is the primary development tool used for creating Web applications and pages that use Microsoft technologies such as C#, Visual Basic .NET, and ASP.NET. Visual Studio also supports the use of multiple Web programming languages in its development environment. First released in 1997, Visual Studio has gone through several iterations over time; the most-recent version (Microsoft Visual Studio 2013) is a complex and powerful Web development toolkit that requires a lot of study and experience in order to use its full potential.

Depending on the training program, there can be coursework in C#, Visual Basic, Visual Studio 2010 and .NET, ASP.NET Web Forms and MVC 3, 4.0, SQL and more.

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JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the older programming languages, but it is still very active on the Internet. JavaScript functionality is built into every modern Web browser, and is used to build additional functionality and interactivity into webpages, or to create entire Web applications.

JavaScript can be compared to Microsoft's Visual Basic and Unix-based Perl. Generally speaking, these languages are easier to code than C and C++ and can be very useful for writing shorter programs.

Specifically, JavaScript is best known to Web developers, programmers and designers because it gives them ability to do things like:

  • Enhance HTML tags
  • Animate elements on a Web page
  • Load changing information at a set interval without any user interaction -- for example, updating headlines such as sports scores or stock tickers
  • Fix layout issues in CSS or HTML

JavaScript Courses

The Internet has changed a lot over the past 15 years. Back then, when Web-based tools and programming languages were emerging, almost anyone with a knack for coding could easily find work as a Web developer or programmer. Today, the game has changed and those with proven skills are the best candidates for jobs designing, developing and maintaining websites and tools for organizations in all sectors. JavaScript training is a simple way for developers and programmers to set themselves apart from the masses and make themselves stand out as qualified job candidates.

What is JavaScript and why is it important to developers?

According to information from TechTarget, JavaScript is an "interpreted programming" or script language. It can be compared to Microsoft's Visual Basic and Unix-based Perl. Generally speaking, these languages are easier to code than C and C++ and can be very useful for writing shorter programs.

Specifically, JavaScript is best known to Web developers, programmers and designers because it gives them ability to do things like:

  • Enhance HTML tags
  • Animate elements on a Web page
  • Load changing information at a set interval without any user interaction -- for example, updating headlines such as sports scores or stock tickers
  • Fix layout issues in CSS or HTML

TechTarget also notes that developers make sure that JavaScript is run at an active server page before pages are sent to a requestor, which can help customize user content before it is displayed in a browser or client.

With so many diverse applications, it's easy to see why JavaScript training can be an asset for anyone seeking a career as a web developer or programmer.

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HTML

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the gold standard when it comes to how webpages are displayed. Essentially, HTML is a group of symbols, tags or codes put in a document or file to display within a browser or on a webpage. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international group of tech and internet professionals dedicated to long-term Internet development, has defined HTML as the universal language for Internet publishing and applications.

The current version, HTML5, contains refinements which make it easier to incorporate rich media (video, animation, sound) in webpages without the use of a proprietary plugin such as Flash, which is not supported on Apple's popular iPad or iPhone devices.

Users will find a variety of options when seeking out HTML courses. Online tutorials, local libraries, continuing education groups and private consultants all can provide basic-level HTML training. Learners might walk away from this kind of training with a working knowledge of simple HTML functions and tags.

More advanced training options include college-level courses often offered through computer science programs or Web design programs. These programs also often cover FTP and other functions such as PHP and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Some programs are endorsed by the W3C, and students in these HTML courses can be assured the training they receive is up to international standard.

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PHP

Created in 1995 from a set of Perl scripts, PHP continues to evolve. Its original name was Personal Home Page, but as functionality was increased it outgrew the title that gave it its acronym. PHP now stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor." PHP is an extremely popular open-source scripting language that allows complex operations to be executed in a hypertext environment.

PHP training courses are offered at colleges and universities from coast to coast, as well as from software and hardware vendors. Some PHP training courses are offered entirely online, which can be beneficial to students who wish to learn this valuable language without committing to a full-time campus education.

Among the attributes that make a good candidate for PHP training, attention to detail is near the top of the list. Previous computer programming experience is a plus, as well, since the syntax of the PHP programming language is derived from such foundational languages as C and Perl. Familiarity with HTTP and Web functionality can help a great deal, and graphic designers who undergo PHP training can bring new life to their skill sets.

The Web houses numerous quizzes, manuals, and primers to help interested students discover whether or not PHP training is right for them. It takes a host of skilled professionals to make the Web work, and training in PHP can help potentially turn a consumer of online content into a competent and well-compensated producer.

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XML

XML (Extensible Markup Language) and XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) are related technologies that are commonly used to exchange and present data on the Internet. XML is a markup language (like HTML) that is used to provide structure to data so that it can be used by webpages or applications. XSLT is used to transform XML data into one or more outputs, including webpages.

According to information from TechTarget, XML is "a flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the World Wide Web, intranets and elsewhere." TechTarget also notes that one of XML's best applications is that is gives IT pros a consistent way to share information with uniform language. As a result, XML has become a popular format for both software development and document publishing and its widespread proliferation has created a wealth of job opportunities for those with XML training.

Modis, an international IT staffing firm, has pointed out that XML has become a standard tool for developers and it has an increasing role in the way data of all kinds are exchanged on the Web and within networks. This means that developers, network administrators and architects, programmers and systems managers are all good candidates for XML courses and training.

For the most part, thorough XML training can be a great way to prepare for a career as an XML developer or programmer. Job duties for these in-demand tech pros often include include designing, developing and maintaining user interface using not only XML, but also HTML, XLS, DHTML and JavaScript. Because the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has given XML a formal recommendation, Modis recommends that XML courses also cover W3C standards.

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Java

Not to be confused with JavaScript, Java is a full object oriented programming language that is used to create stand-alone software applications, as well as fully-featured Web applications. One key implementation of Java on the Internet is JavaServer Pages (JSP), which can be identified by the appearance of the .jsp suffix at the end of a URL.

Java training can provide students with a firm foundation in the programming language, as well as concepts, methods and variables of object-oriented programming and Unified Modeling Language, or UML. Pursuing further training in Java can help students concentrate on the finer points of the language and its implementation, such as Web deployment, advanced scripting techniques and detailed analysis.

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Other Web Development Languages and Tools

Literally thousands of programming languages have been developed over the last 15-20 years, and many of them can play a part in Web development. Here are some of the more popular programming and scripting languages that WDDs may want to consider as part of an enhanced training regimen:

  • Python
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Perl
  • C/C++
  • SQL

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Web Designer Pay and Outlook

WDDs are in the higher opportunity technology fields, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts. The increased demand for employees with these skills is is a direct result of the growth of Internet-capable mobile devices, as well as e-commerce, and online advertising. The BLS webpage for Web Developers states that "online purchasing is expected to grow faster than the overall retail industry."

The BLS salary figures for the job category "Web Developers" (which encompasses the Web designer job function) are impressive.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

WDDs can find job opportunities in a number of industries including Internet service providers, Internet consulting firms, and specialized Web design companies. Advertising firms and graphic design shops also hire WDDs. An increasing number of large enterprises maintain a staff of in-house designers. Finally, WDDs with experience and strong portfolios can establish careers as independent contractors, providing creative services to businesses or individual clients.

Job growth figures for web designers are as follows:

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Web Developers - U.S.20%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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Web Design Certifications

In addition to university and college education, or technical school degrees, WDDs can achieve greater industry recognition by achieving one or more technology certifications. IT certification programs are offered by product vendors and vendor-neutral industry associations, and generally require a candidate to pass one or more certification exams in order to be accredited.

The value of certifications has repeatedly been validated by salary studies, employer surveys, and technology worker feedback. Earning a tech certification can help to increase a WDD's chances of getting a job, and can also have an impact on overall earning potential once hired.

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