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Role of a Web Developer

Role of a Web Developer

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Author: Devmountain Tutorials
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Explore the responsibilities and job characteristics of a web developer.

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Tutorial
what's covered
This section will explore the role of a web developer by discussing:
  1. WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT: FRONT-END
  2. WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT: BACK-END

Image of a light skinned person with very short red hair sitting in front of a computer.
Web Developer

Hi, I’m Ruben. I’m the Web Developer for Poodle Jumper and I’ve been working here for two months. Before I started here, I worked as a Junior Web Developer for a year alongside multiple Senior Web Developers who helped me get the hang of things. Now I’m comfortable making more decisions about how to get from point A to point B within the code, though I still leave the big picture architectural decisions to more experienced developers within the company. When I’m not working, I’m with my family. I have two sons that love Minecraft and we have a blast playing together. I’m also a grilling enthusiast and I make the best ribs in town

1. WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT: FRONT-END

Web developers are responsible for writing the code that powers websites and web applications. Websites and web applications are similar in that you get to build them through a browser like Chrome or Edge. Websites tend to be simple and static; they provide information for a user to read, but there isn’t much functionality to them.

A web application is a software program that allows users to interact with features without having to download an app to their computer or mobile device.

Web apps tend to be more sophisticated and complex. For a user, it is mostly semantics, but the development time, effort, and costs are substantially different. The good news is once you learn the fundamentals of web development, you can create either.

My day-to-day tasks as a web developer varies quite a bit, but they’re all rewarding. I use CSS (cascading style sheets) to make the website look and interact as they should on mobile devices as well as computers or laptops. I work with Mori, the UX Designer, to make sure we’re delivering a consistent style.

Together we’ve created a customizable component library that matches our branding standards. A component library has the tiny building blocks of a website, things like a button, checkbox, menu, and form fields. The benefit of using a component library is that we know every button on our site looks the same every time. They are like little building blocks I can reuse wherever I need them.

I use HTML (hypertext markup language) to build the structure of the website. HTML is usually the first thing that new web developers learn because it is the foundation. You can think of HTML as the framing of a house, and the CSS as the paint, wallpaper, and flooring.

Without the structure, my CSS wouldn’t have anything to decorate. HTML uses tags to define the structures of different elements on the page. HTML is so effective at structuring elements that it is used in emails, documents, and even some games. Of course, this means that I use HTML every day in almost everything I do.

did you know
You can see the HTML source code for every website by right-clicking and choosing “Inspect” or “Inspect Element.”

Image shows a browser with the Sophia.org website on the left and the inspect element feature on the right with the source code
Inspect Element

The last part of bringing a website to life is using a technology called JavaScript. This is what makes the website interact and do things when a user clicks a button, hides a menu, or submits a form. JavaScript is like the electrical, gas, and water of a house. It’s what powers things to work. All of the technology I’ve talked about so far are the foundational elements to front-end development. It’s called this because it is the part of a website that a user sees and interacts with.

Image shows a laptop with three screens in layers in front of the screen.
Front End Development

term to know

Front-end development
The skill of using technology to create experiences for users. It includes the style, structure, and interaction users see.

2. WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT: BACK-END

The other part of my job is developing the things behind the scenes, or the back-end development. As you’ve likely guessed, this is where we program what happens with all the data the user is sending and updating.

For example, when you click “Add to Cart” on your new favorite pair of shoes, something has to connect between the website you’re seeing and all the data that keeps track of the store’s inventory system, purchasing information, and eventually shipping. Monique, our Software Engineer, is the lead on these systems, so I’ll let her tell you more about it.

One of the joys of being a Web Developer is that we get to bring ideas to life. Whether Mary, our CEO, has a brilliant idea one morning, or if Mori (UX) brings a fresh new layout for the company blog, it’s the Web Developer who gets to make that idea a reality. When you do this well, the whole company notices and appreciates your work.

While some parts of my job are attractive and fun, it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Writing code can be tricky. Programming languages are precise, and getting every character correct is a struggle when you start. The syntax, or the structure, of code gets easier the more you do it, but when you’re a developer, it seems like you’re always struggling with something.

Problems I run into include the environment on your machine, your computer acting weird, merging your code with a co-worker’s changes, causing an error, or the requirements are wrong for something you’ve already built. My advice is to embrace the struggle. The more you look at the challenges as opportunities to learn, the better developer you’re going to be.

term to know

Back-end development
Process to program what happens with all the data the user is sending and updating.

Terms to Know
Back end development

Process to program what happens with all the data the user is sending and updating.

Front end development

The skill of using technology to create experiences for users. It includes the style, structure, and interaction users see.