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How to become a web developer

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With digitisation and social media consuming the modern business landscape – the need for well-designed, intuitive, and fully-featured web pages has never been more critical. 

According to 2018 research by Telstra, 62% of customers are likely to stop considering a business if they lack enough brand presence or information online. Despite this, over half of Australia’s small businesses still don’t have their own website. 

As our transactions and communication methods increasingly shift to the online space, the need for professionally-developed websites is only set to grow. Not only do they help businesses reach new, diverse demographics – they also work to retain customers and improve one’s brand image.

Below, SkillsTalk dive into the growing, lucrative world of web development – and the steps you can take to pursue a rewarding career in the field

What is web development, and why is it needed?

Firstly, what does web development entail?

The term is generally used to describe the process of building a website or a web-based application. There are three main types of developers: front-end, back-end, and full-stack.

Front-end developers mainly deal with the web elements involving user interface (i.e. page graphics, links, menus, and buttons) – typically working with computer languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Back-end developers, on the other hand, deal with the “server side” of the process, managing background servers and databases that keep a website running. 

Those who demonstrate proficiency in both front and back-end skills are known as full-stack developers.

Web developers are currently one of Australia’s most in-demand tech professionals, as their skills help keep up with online consumer and e-commerce needs. Convenience has never been a higher priority in the modern consumer market – and having a website allows you to instantly present your products and services; communicate with potential customers; and produce new leads no matter where your target consumers may be. 

With over 87% of the Australian population now regularly online, having a well-developed website also builds a stronger, broader-reaching brand presence – boosting your engagement, reputation, and profits for the long-term. They’re additionally an effective way of demonstrating reliable customer service; as websites often provide chat bots, social media pages, and contact forms for visitors to send their inquiries or concerns.

What are the key duties and responsibilities of a web developer?

web developer concept

As mentioned, front-end developers are mainly focused on the “external” aspects of a website. Thus, their daily duties typically involve finding ways of enhancing online user experience; maintaining all elements of a website to ensure minimal bugs or hiccups; and looking for ways to improve SEO. They may also work to optimise the website for mobile devices and different browsers; possibly creating new tools to enhance user interaction.

In contrast, back-end developers are responsible for the daily management and maintenance of a website’s servers, APIs, database, and security, and underlying code. Much of their work may involve troubleshooting and debugging applications, ensuring all are working as needed; and keeping updated on the latest technologies to improve these. 

Back-end and front-end developers typically work in close collaboration, ensuring all external and internal website elements work seamlessly together to craft a reliable, fully-functional, and responsive user experience. 

Both front and back-end developers may also liaise with business analysts, web designers, and network specialists to discuss other technical website needs or web-related issues. They play a crucial role in developing new internet strategies to meet broader business goals. 

What are the common personality traits of web developers?

Success in a web development role requires a certain set of soft skills (and personal characteristics). 

According to Forbes, trustworthiness and passion are crucial traits employers look for when hiring web developers. As much of their work involves collaboration, qualified web developers should exhibit reliability, honesty, and a genuine willingness to work with others. The best developers are also generally excited with the work they do, which help in boosting team motivation and morale.

Additionally, they are excellent communicators – keeping everyone up-to-date with current projects and explaining technical processes in layman’s terms when necessary. 

Successful web developers also have a natural drive for continual learning, and take the initiative to expand their knowledge on the latest industry trends, emerging technologies, and new development tools. Taking the time to learn new coding languages should also be a priority; as this not only enhances the work they do – but also keeps their programming skillset versatile. 

Finally, the best web developers are natural problem-solvers, and aren’t afraid to push themselves when faced with especially difficult challenges. While it’s important to come to solutions, however, web developers can also remain flexible – keeping their mind open to newer, better solutions as they arise. 

Current web development industry trends

web developer concept

The web development industry is currently a highly stable one – having maintained about 10,000 jobs between 2014 and 2019 (Source: JobOutlook). Employment can be found in most parts of Australia, though Victoria currently holds the largest share of workers. 

Demand for web development skills are mainly found in the information media and telecommunications industry; in professional, scientific, and technical services; and in the education and training sector. Most workers (80%) work full-time at about 42 hours a week, earning an average weekly wage of $1,596 (higher than the average all-jobs earnings of $1,460). Workers have the opportunity of earning more as their experience in the industry grows. 

The expansive growth of mobile web users has spurred recent demand for development skills in this area. In fact, Google introduced its mobile-first indexing in July of 2019 – with an algorithm that prioritises mobile-optimised web pages.

Additionally, with most online users now preferring live chat over e-mail or phone support when contacting businesses, web developers are encouraged to incorporate more chatbots and related support features in their webpages. As the AI continues to gain prominence, web developers can use such technologies to automate, enhance, and improve the overall efficiency of these online customer service experiences. 

What qualifications or training do you need to become a web developer?

According to Job Outlook, aspiring web developers can enter the field with no formal qualifications – though they do help in standing out in the job market. Vendor and industry certifications are highly regarded by employers, as they demonstrate industry-standard skills and experience. 

A ICT40120 - Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web Development) is a popular starting point for those yet to build their skills and experience, as the course provides a thorough overview of the basics. These include the creation of simple databases, implementing basic website security, developing simple web page layouts, and how to analyse, maintain, and test website performance. 

The program may also explore the soft skills required to collaborate effectively in a web development environment – such as the ability to discuss and debate ideas, and how to maintain professional and ethical conduct.

Launch an exciting career in web development today!

Many technologies have come and gone – through the internet is surely here to stay. With its user base only set to expand, businesses must learn to digitise and meet the growing demands of online consumers. 

Web development enables this, providing companies and individuals with innovative platforms for reaching new customers and audiences.  

Looking to take part in this rewarding industry? Upskilled currently offers a selection of related nationally-recognised courses to get you started. All courses are additionally delivered online – helping you tailor your studies according to personal needs and schedule.
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