If you’ve ever used the internet—and if you haven’t then we have no idea how you’re currently accessing this post—you’ve encountered the end product of web development.
Web development is the process by which functioning websites make the transition from concept to reality. The term is a relatively broad one, encompassing web design, content development, scripting, and security (to name only a few), but at its heart, web development is basically coding; every aspect of every webpage relies on programming code to function properly. As such, learning web development is essentially the same thing as learning code.
However, the processes involved in building webpages is a little bit more complex than that. For one thing, there’s a big difference between coding for the behind-the-scenes aspects and creating the front-facing page elements that users interact with directly. In fact, the differences are significant enough that they occupy two different designations of web development: back-end and front-end web development.
Back-end code is…
…the foundation of any webpage. It’s made up of a combination of operating systems, databases, servers, and APIs, and incorporates programming related to security, business logic, structure, and content management. Simply put, if it’s part of the page and the user can’t easily see or access it, it’s the back end. But while these are undeniably essential aspects of any page, back-end programming mostly exists to support the user-facing elements of front-end programming.
What is front-end web development?
If back-end code is the collective processes happening behind the scenes, the front-end code is everything going on center stage. Site users interact directly with the front end of the webpage, supported by the back-end processes that (assuming everything goes as planned), those users will never have to worry about.
One important goal of front-end development is ensuring that the interface is as user-friendly, visually appealing, and as functional as possible. As users click to navigate the site, requests are sent from the front end to the back end via front-end scripts. The back end then processes those requests, and responds by sending back the appropriate data to complete the actions. This is generally an overlapping process, with requests and responses traveling back and forth constantly while the user accesses the site.
And while it’s easy to say that front-end development encompasses all of the elements a user can see or interact with on a site, that’s not all there is to it. Now that more and more users are relying on mobile devices rather than just desktop options to browse the web, front-end development needs to take the multi-platform experience into account. Modern front-end developers have to make sure that their sites display correctly, regardless of screen size, resolution, web browser, operating system, etc.
All of this may be enlightening, but if you find yourself asking “Why should I care?” take a moment and consider the numbers.
By the numbers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of web developers is set to grow 15% by 2026. That’s outpacing the 13% expected growth of computer occupations in general, and more than twice the 7% expected growth of all occupations. And thanks in part to this growing demand, at the time of this writing the average annual base pay for web developers is $88,488, as reported by Glassdoor. Front-end web developers have it even better, making $88,680 per year, with an average additional cash compensation of $10,000.
For those looking for a lucrative career, front-end development is certainly an attractive possibility. Unfortunately for many potential programmers, the time and money needed to develop the necessary coding skills is just too much. Or at least that’s what they think.
The reality is that anyone can become a front-end web developer, and they don’t need a computer science degree to do it.
Codes of conduct
- HTML: the language that defines the structure of the web. Essentially every site is built using this language, which makes HTML absolutely vital for front-end developers.
- CSS: used for creating and defining a page aesthetic, including layout, presentation, and formatting.
On the front lines of code
What is front-end development? It’s the programming that defines the client-facing parts of the web, but that’s not all it can be. With high starting pay and ever increasing demand, front-end development can be the career you’ve always wanted.
Almost everyone uses the internet. And, with front-end development training, your work could be sitting front and center.