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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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What Does a Web Developer Do?

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