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Learn web development online

Web developers are responsible for building and maintaining the websites we rely on to work, shop, game, and more. Learn web development online with edX.

What is web development?

Web development typically refers to the coding and programming side of website production. When you learn web development, you might start out writing a simple page of HTML text and build up to creating more complex, feature-rich applications designed to be accessed from various Internet-connected devices. Examples of feature-rich web development include e-commerce websites, content management systems (CMS), and social networks. Common programming languages and software web developers may use include Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, PHP, Drupal, and MySQL.

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Types of web development

There are different types of web development: front-end, back-end, and full-stack development.Footnote 1 Note that web developers specialize in building websites, as opposed to mobile applications, video games, or software.

  • Front-end development refers to the client- or user-facing side of websites. Front-end developers design and develop the visual aspects of a website, including the layout, navigation, graphics, and other aesthetics. Their main job is to build interfaces that help users reach their goals, so front-end developers are often involved in user experience (UX).

  • Back-end development focuses on everything the user doesn’t see. Back-end developers work with servers, operating systems, application programming interfaces (APIs), and databases. They manage the code for security, content, and site architecture. They collaborate with front-end developers.

  • Full-stack development encompasses both the front-end and back-end sides of a website or software program.Footnote 2 Full-stack developers can create a website from start to finish. In addition to understanding HTML and CSS, these developers know how to program a browser, server, and database. They are skilled at working with the different technologies that handle different functionalities on a website, often requiring years of training and experience. 

Web development curriculum 

Aspiring professionals in this field can learn how to build websites entirely online, through online coding boot camps, web developer certifications, or web development courses online. From HTML tutorials to in-depth courses in responsive web design, individuals can learn the latest client- and server-side coding practices. Web development curriculum varies by level and by the particular course and subject, but most intro classes will cover HTML and CSS basics along with popular web programming languages like Python and JavaScript. There are also web development courses geared toward back-end development that focus on databases, applications, and software. 

Enroll in any of these introductory classes to learn web development and start building websites in just a few short weeks.

Discover web development jobs

From developing mobile interfaces to pushing the limits of modern web applications, companies are investing in and expanding their online presence. Job roles for web development professionals include:

  • Technology applications engineer

  • Web architect

  • Web design specialist

  • Web designer

  • Webmaster

What do web developers do?

Web developers create and maintain websites. They are also responsible for the technical aspects of a website, such as how fast it loads, how it performs, and how much traffic the site can handle. Web developers may also create content for a website.

A web development job description might include any or all of the following:Footnote 3

  • Meet with clients to discuss the needs, design, and functionality of a website. 

  • Write code for the website, using programming languages such as HTML or JavaScript.

  • Create and test applications, interfaces, and navigation menus. 

  • Work with web designers to determine the website’s layout.

  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video into the website.

  • Monitor website traffic.

Depending on the type of web development they do, developers may have additional job duties, such as working with databases and monitoring website security. 

How to become a web developer

Educational requirements vary for web developers based on the employer, your particular role, and other factors. Many professionals working as web developers hold a bachelor’s degree, with some employers preferring to hire web developers who have specifically earned a bachelor’s degree in computer or data science or programming. For professionals looking to advance to a senior role or specialize in certain technologies, a master’s degree in data science may make them more competitive in the job market. But web developers may not need specific education credentials if they can demonstrate their abilities through prior work experience or projects.Footnote 4

For learners just starting out or professionals who want to expand their knowledge of specific skills, coding boot camps, and online web development courses can help teach coding and other applicable tech skills.

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