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Types of Web Development for Beginners

Web developer is one of the most interesting career paths for a computer science major because it combines analytical and technical skills with creative design and development. Web developers work with professionals in IT, sales and marketing, and other departments to build websites that attract and keep customers, contributing to a business’s sales growth or a government agency’s effectiveness. Websites are so crucial to a company’s success that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for web developers to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029.

A web designer evaluates the website layout on a desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone.

There are three types of web development roles: developers who specialize in the user interface (“front-end”), those who write the underlying code for running all website operations (“back-end”), and those who manage all aspects of a website (“full stack”). Each type focuses on a different area of web development, but they all have one thing in common: coding. A bachelor’s in computer science is a great way to learn the programming skills required for a web development career.

What are the different types of web development?

When users click on a website link, such as a “Pay Now” button, they rarely think about the underlying code that takes them to a payment page. Web developers are responsible for creating the look and feel of that button, as well as the logic that drives the website. Here are the three main types of web development:

Front-end web development

Front-end web development is responsible for the look and feel of a website. This means how colors, type, icons, and images appear. Increasingly, front-end development has to account for how a website looks on all devices, from desktop to tablet to phone. Typical programming languages include HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Front-end developers keep up with cutting-edge trends in web design and development to make sure websites are optimized for users and search engines — and with security best practices in mind.

Back-end web development

Back-end web development is responsible for building and maintaining the code that runs a website. This code connects the website to the server and ensures that data flows properly to the website and that transactions are processed correctly. Typical programming languages include Java (different from JavaScript), PHP, and MySQL; newer tools include Python and Golang. Back-end web developers can keep up with changes in technology by participating in networking communities that share coding tips and support.

Full-stack web development

Full-stack web development covers both front-end and back-end responsibilities. Depending on the complexity of a website, a full-stack developer may be responsible for all facets of its development, from the server side to the user interface. Many full-stack developers may still specialize in one aspect of web development, but their broad experience is useful in troubleshooting or speeding up a build or redesign. Full-stack developers are often responsible for identifying cutting-edge technologies, such as enhanced programming languages (or even no- or low-code trends) and blockchain, that can be used to strengthen websites’ business capabilities.

Skills needed for success

What defines a successful website developer? The following are just a few of the skills that can help professionals advance their careers in web development.

  • Programming abilities. Strong coding skills are essential. Mastering programming languages such as HTML and CSS is just a start. Technology changes fast, so a willingness to always be learning new coding techniques is important.
  • Attention to detail. Testing and debugging code requires patience and analytical skills to understand what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • Creative thinking. Successful websites have to attract and keep users, as well as be visible to search engines. Web developers have to be creative in how they pull together user experience, search engine optimization, and other factors in building a good site.

While many web designers work alone, most work for an organization. Understanding the needs of the sales department, for example, is crucial in creating a successful website. Collaborating with user experience or content creation experts is also a necessary skill.

Web developers can rely on a variety of community resources for everything from finding a job to helping with tough coding problems. Web experts advise new developers to become part of these communities.

A look at different web development careers

Just as there are different types of web development, there are different web development careers. While they do overlap, each role has different responsibilities and requires different skills.

Web designer

A web designer (also called a digital designer) is responsible for a website’s look and feel. They should have skills in design, art, and coding, as well as an understanding of best practices to build a site that is functional, appealing, and successful at drawing users. Web designers use a variety of graphic design software programs to build their sites. While coding isn’t their sole responsibility, a background in programming is useful to communicate their goals to the web programmer. The median starting web designer salary is about $43,000 per year, according to PayScale.com data from April 2021; with experience, the median salary is about $60,000 per year.

Web programmer

A web programmer or web developer writes the code that brings a website to life. Front-end web programmers build the pages the web designer creates. Back-end web programmers write the server code that runs the website. Web programmers are often familiar with web design concepts since they are responsible for making the user interface appealing to site users. The median starting salary for web programmers is about $49,000 per year; with experience, the median salary is about $64,000 per year, according to PayScale.com data from April 2021.

Content developer

A web content developer creates the content that goes on the website. That may include blog posts, product descriptions, images and videos, and news stories. Content developers may also have programming skills such as HTML and search engine optimization (SEO) that they use to make sure their websites are best positioned in search results. According to PayScale.com data from April 2021, the median web content developer salary is about $49,000 per year.

Webmaster

A webmaster is responsible for all aspects of an organization’s website, including design, architecture (the way information is organized on the site), coding, security, and more. The webmaster works with the programmers, designers, and marketing teams to ensure the website is effective at attracting and retaining users and is successful as part of an organization’s business strategy. A webmaster must understand design, coding, sales, and marketing. The median starting salary for webmasters is about $49,000 per year; with experience, the median salary is about $59,000 per year, according to PayScale.com data from April 2021.

An essential function of modern business

A well-designed and well-functioning website is crucial to a company’s business success. Websites are more than just a way to sell products; they must engage users and provide an attractive and seamless user experience to keep customers coming back. Websites must be designed, redesigned, maintained, and supported to meet this standard of success. The three types of web development all work together to achieve that goal.

As a result, the demand for web development professionals, whether front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers, is strong. It’s an ideal career for people who are analytical, detail-oriented, and creative, with excellent communication and networking skills.

Are you ready to learn more about the different types of web development? Does a dynamic career in web programming sound rewarding? Find out how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program can help you reach your professional goals.

Recommended Reading

The Path to Becoming a Web Developer vs. Front-End Developer

Web Design vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?

The Future of Programming and the Top Languages Programmers Should Know

Sources

Fireart Studio, “Front End Development Trends 2021”

Forbes, “Why Every Business Needs a Website”

Houston Chronicle, “Description of a Webmaster Position

Houston Chronicle, “Different Types of Web Developers

JobHero, “What is a Content Developer?”

MadCap, “The Three Types of Web Developers (and What They Do)

MerixStudio, “4 Top Picks for Backend Development in 2021 (Update)”

Noupe, “Top 7 Fullstack Development Trends to Follow in 2021”

PayScale.com, “Average Web Content Developer Salary”

PayScale.com, “Average Web Designer Salary”

PayScale.com, “Average Webmaster Salary”

PayScale.com, “Average Web Programmer Salary”

Programming Insider, “The Importance of Investing in Web Development for Your Business”

Techopedia, “What Does Web Programming Mean?”

TheeDigital, “The Most Important Features That Every Business Website Should Have”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Web Developers and Digital Designers”

WebFX, “What Does a Web Designer Do?”

Yoast, “What Makes a Good Website?”