The Beginner’s Guide to Website Development

If companies want to boost all of their marketing efforts, there’s only one asset that affects everything; their website. While web developers are on the decline in the US, their demand is expected to grow by 13% by 2030. For newer developers, this means higher pay, higher job security, and more options! Whether you want to learn the skill to save money for your business or start a new career, let’s talk about how to learn website development!

Determine Your Goals

Do you want to build a DIY site for your business, freelance service, or hobby? Do you want to enter a career as a web developer? It’s important to understand your goals before learning website development.

If it’s a one-and-done project, learning everything about website development may not be the way to go. Instead, learn about the stages of website development and try to handle what you can to save money. Otherwise, it will be faster and likely cheaper to hire a professional!

Types of Developers

To make the distinction ahead of time, website developers are different from graphic designers. Graphic designers focus on the design elements of a website. Typically, designers use a variety of graphic design and CMS tools. They may learn to code and know some basic development skills, but design and branding are their primary focuses.

Web developers code the design and server elements of a website from scratch. Front-end developers focus on what users see, and back-end developers allow it to happen. Essentially, front-end developers build the elements that we see when surfing through a site, whereas back-end developers focus on the server, security, and other elements of website development.

Developer working on desktop computer in office at website development job

Some developers choose to stick to one of these throughout their careers. However, if a developer handles both front-end and back-end services, they are called a “full stack” developer.

Pay Attention to the Details

We all surf the web from time to time, whether it’s for work or pleasure. However, few of us take the time to pay attention to the design elements of the websites we use. If you want to get better at web design, this is important to know.

Most users can spot an outdated or DIY website from a mile away. Learning to develop modern websites is important to success in the industry or for improving your personal website. Start using a more critical eye when surfing the web and try to understand these design elements more and more as you continue to learn website development.

Importance of CMS Tools in Website Development

It’s very important to learn how to use CMS tools like WordPress. If you plan to take on clients with existing websites, it’s almost guaranteed they will use one of these. WordPress alone powers nearly 40% of all websites online.

While they market themselves as very beginner-friendly, there is still a learning curve to overcome. This is especially true as you become more advanced in website development. So, it’s best to become familiar with the controls, user functions, and more.

This will only help you grow as a developer and make your job much easier later on. You can have all of the technical skills in the world, but if you don’t know how to use your tools, it won’t help all that much. Fortunately, this is an easy task to take on, even before you start learning about website development.

Learning to Code

We know it sounds daunting to those who haven’t learned it yet, but we promise that it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Even if it was, coding is an essential part of website design and development. Without it, you can’t get very far.

Let’s say you only want to get into design. In that case, CMS and graphic design tools can take you pretty far. However, you have no idea how many issues can be resolved by simply coding something from scratch.

These issues will always arise in the industry for every developer. If you don’t know how to handle them, then you can’t call yourself a developer. The most important coding languages to learn are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Hypertext markup language, structure of page in website development

HTML stands for “hypertext markup language”. It’s a language used to code text and the structure of the page rather than any design elements. Think of this as the “noun.”

CSS stands for “cascading style sheets.” This is the language used for design elements such as colours, fonts, columns, and more. Think of this as the “adjective.”

Finally, JS is the coding language used for interactive elements on your website. Think of contact forms, loops, and other interactive components you’d find on a website. Think of this as the “verb.”

Other Coding Languages

HTML, CSS, and JS will get you quite far in website development. You can land your first job with an understanding of these three, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. There are plenty of other coding languages that can help with your web development skills.

For example, Python is used for creating highly-advanced elements like AI, machine learning, and games. Ruby is used for categorizing, cleaning, and managing website code. PHP is used for server scripting, and Vue is used for UI-based project design.

We know this sounds like a lot, and it can be. However, there’s no reason to stress about it. Start with the basics and worry about others later.

Once you understand HTML, CSS, and JS, it’s much easier to continue learning. The best part is that you don’t have to be flawless with memorization. Even experienced developers and digital marketers spend part of their days searching for things they’ve forgotten on Google, so don’t worry too much about becoming fluent overnight.

Coding Resources

There are thousands of online resources to help you learn to code. You can always spend $5,000 to $20,000 on a coding BootCamp that lasts for 17 weeks, but why bother if you don’t have to? If you’re disciplined and motivated enough, you can teach yourself everything we’ve talked about so far for free.

Whether you learn by reading, watching, or doing, there are free resources available. You could learn HTML, CSS, and JS within a couple of weeks by simply watching YouTube videos and practicing on your laptop.

However, if you want a more traditional education, look for classes near you! There are plenty of boot camps, community colleges, and other programs that offer web development courses. Just ensure that they align with your goals!

Basic Design Skills

Learning front-end design skills is always helpful, even if you plan to work in the back end. Understanding how users view web design is important for every developer, as this is the “finished product.”

For example, learning more about basic design elements, colour theory, branding, and more will only help improve your value as a developer. Remember that most clients will only care to see the front end of a website. Design is much easier for creating a portfolio!

Don’t Forget About The Importance of SEO in Website Development

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of modern website development. This includes ensuring your website’s code is functioning properly, developing a content strategy, and more. The goal is to optimize your website content for search engines like Google.

Search Engine Optimization graphic

Learning about the different types of content and how to use them will go a long way in the industry. Google uses over 200 ranking factors related to the quality of a website. The higher you can rank, the more organic traffic you can drive.

There are a lot of skills to learn in SEO, but they’re more intuitive than you may think. Most importantly, you should learn:

  • How to use CMS tools like WordPress or Shopify
  • How to write SEO content
  • How to optimize metadata
  • Optimizing for different devices (mobile, desktop, etc.)
  • Accessibility standards (link titles, image alt tags, etc.)
  • Building backlinks

The list goes on, but these can take a strategy quite far in most cases. SEO is an in-demand skill in the industry, so whether you’re positioning yourself for a new career or trying to grow your business, it’s worth the investment!

Once you understand development, there isn’t a lot to learn. Understanding how off-page SEO works, how to build a content marketing strategy, and how to improve page speed will go a long way.

Learn Website Development Today

Now that you know how to get started with learning website development, why wait? Web development is one of the most sought-after skills on the job market, with high levels of satisfaction in the industry. Taking the time to learn these skills could be the best decision you’ve ever made!

Stay up to date with our latest digital marketing tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us for help with your website development needs!

About Robert Burko

Robert Burko is CEO and Founder of Elite Digital, a leading digital marketing agency. As one of Canada's chief digital marketing specialists, Burko has appeared on national television, radio, podcasts, and in countless print publications and blogs across North America. Burko is also a professor of Digital Marketing & Social Media at Seneca College in Toronto. Recognized as a thought leader in his industry, Robert is often invited to speak as an expert in his field at high-profile events across North America.

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