Finding fulfillment as a web developer

Insider Advice from a Web Developer

Web developers manage every facet of a website's development, from the initial wireframe to the shortest line of code. They collaborate with graphic designers, copywriters, and other professionals to create a complete product for the client. Tyler LoPilato, who has worked in web development for five years, describes his responsibilities as "[c]reating new websites, fixing existing bugs, [and] improving workflow." He also has some advice for other web developers who have entered this field.

What Is a Web Developer?

Think of a web developer as the foreman on a construction crew. He or she manages all the moving parts until the structure comes together as a cohesive finished product.

Some web developers spend considerable time testing newly built websites and implementing new programming languages to meet today's changing needs. For instance, web designers and developers now must take into consideration responsive design and mobile technology when building new sites.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web developer job descriptions vary, depending on the company and industry, but the developers themselves use many of the same tools. LoPilato uses several different "frameworks, including WordPress, Drupal, Yii," and more. He spends much of his time "[d]eveloping websites [and] themes from scratch for numerous companies, design and development, implementing development processes and standards," and other tasks.

Some web developers also double as graphic designers. They use their artistic skills to create themes that support a website's core function and purpose. They might draw icons and other custom graphics or fit together existing assets to make a web design more fluid and professional.

Web developers probably have at least a bachelor's degree in computer programming or a related field. They can also advance their education and get a master's degree if they want to create new job opportunities or move up in their field. Web developers can also take individual classes to improve their knowledge base.

What Is the Earning Potential of a Web Developer?

LoPilato doesn't disclose his salary, but the average web developer earns $95,000 per year. If you're hoping to boost your income, consider working in a city that has excellent salary potential. For instance, web developers earn the most in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.

You can also switch your focus to a different industry. Web developers tend to demand higher salaries when they work in the publishing or computer systems design industries. Meanwhile, you might not feel satisfied by your salary if you build websites for educational institutions or religious organizations.

However, time and education can also improve your salary potential. If you learn new programming languages before everyone else in your field, for instance, you become far more valuable. Similarly, as you gain years of experience, you'll develop a track record for feasible, attractive websites that help their owners convert customers.

Some web developers find that they can improve their job prospects by approaching their work from a creative standpoint while also including analytics in their finished products. They test different aspects of a website to see how they perform in the real world. A website should keep readers on the page, reduce bounce rates, load quickly, and offer quality content.

How Can You Advance From Web Development?

According to LoPilato, there's "lots of movement available" in this industry. He plans to move up to management when an opportunity opens up, which will increase his salary potential and give him more authority within his company. You might find other ways to move up in your industry, such as by moving into team leadership.

Some web developers gain experience in the field, then go on to start their own companies. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, consider building your skills so you can work for yourself in the future. Then you can hire your own employees and make the rules.

What's the Business Culture Like in Web Development?

LoPilato calls his company's work culture "business casual." He works indoors, of course, and he notes that he enjoys half-day Fridays, which extends his weekends and allows him to develop proper work–life balance. He also notes that there isn't anything he dislikes about his job. He loves "the environment, company, people," and everything else about it.

You might have a different experience. For instance, half-day Fridays aren't standard across the industry. However, you can use LoPilato's experience to search for jobs that meet your needs and offer interesting perks.

Should You Get Any Extra Training?

According to LoPilato, web developers need "a lot of different online training" even after they complete their formal education. Specifically, he names "Codecademy [and] Udemy" as essential training for furthering his career. You might find that you need to take other classes to make sure you rise to the top of your field.

Web development constantly changes as web standards evolve and design expectations improve. Taking continuing education classes can keep you ahead of the curve so that your skills never become obsolete. Although LoPilato mentioned online training, which might prove most convenient, you can also take in-person courses if you have a trade school or community college in your neighborhood.

Is Web Development Rewarding?

Many web developers find significant fulfillment in this career. LoPilato mentions "creativity" specifically. He also notes that he enjoys "seeing [his] work in the real world." After a website goes live for a customer, he gets to watch as it improves the client's return-on-investment, or ROI, and impresses other professionals in the development and design communities.

According to LoPilato, he had a mentor to help him through his transition into web development, and he recommends that other nascent web developers find a mentor as well. A mentor can help you learn the ropes more quickly and answer questions as they surface.

Whether you've just started your first job as a web developer or you're farther along in your career, you can find fulfillment and excellent income potential in this field. Keep learning new skills to keep your knowledge base fresh and to remain indispensable to your employer.