What is Web development? This term is as vast as the ocean. There are innumerable programming languages as well as scores of frameworks and tools that are the lifeline of technical web development.
Web development is indeed in the same boat as desktop and mobile app development. However, web development forms the basis of it all. Even with the rise of modern app development techniques, it still is undeniable that web development is the king. Therefore, even software developers have to know web development; or at least have a firm grasp of its basics.
A good website promotes you 24/7; not even your best employee can do that- Paul Cookson
Web Development Simplified
The simplest way of describing web development is that it revolves around the creation of apps and tools that run on web browsers. These app and tools may be exclusively dependent on the server that created them. On the other hand, some of them may only use the server during their initial development or for data storage and retrieval among other things.
A Look at Web Development’s History
To understand the present and future of web development, let’s first try to understand its past.
The history of web development begun with static web pages and hyperlink navigation. Initially, developers would create static web pages and link them up using hyperlinks. Unlike today’s websites and web apps, there was minimal or no interactivity at all since these web pages were designed to simply convey information and nothing more.
CGI was used in the earlier days of web development to generate HTML based on data sent to the server by the browser. The developments that came later were designed to make CGI’s dynamic HTML generation easier. ASP and ColdFusion are examples of such developments and they served as a templating language for web development. Through them, HTML could be mixed with special tags and markup which made HTML generation easier, conditional and dependent on a particular web page.
Web development has continued to grow exponentially. Today, we even have web-based operating systems such as Google’s Chrome OS. Cloud technology to has become so big in recent times that it’s hard to imagine what more the future holds in terms of web development.
Primary Web Development Technology
The commonest technologies that developers work with in the development of websites and web
Hypertext Markup Language, HTML
HTML is the heart of web development. It forms the building blocks that developers use to create web applications. In fact, it is possible to code a complete website entirely on HTML.
Cascading Style Sheets, CSS
HTML was initially used to specify a web page’s format and layout. The problem, however, was that a lot of work had to be done in order to execute a small change in style. For instance, changing the color of buttons in a website, required an alteration of HTML in multiple places.
Nowadays, styling and web content are handled differently during development. HTML handles the content and CSS styles it. This way, one can use a small set of CSS files to style a whole web application. A single file can, for instance, be modified in CSS to change the color of the buttons on an entire site.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WEB DESIGN AND WEB DEVELOPMENT
It’s common for people in the streets to use the term web designer when they mean web developer and
vice versa. However, this is wrong since the two are very different professionals; each with a role that’s
completely different from the other.
I too once held the misconception that web development and web designs are one and the same. However, if you ever find yourself touring the web industry, either as a client or professional, you’ll need to delineate web design from web development.
Web design is all about bringing ideas and web concepts to life. Web designers take your story or vision and create a design that is visually appealing. As such, they are tasked with designing how a website will look and feel. Much like an architect designs the plan before a house is built, so do web designers model a website layout before web developers can begin building the website. It is the layout that web designers create that is used to create the UX (User Experience) for the entire site.
The role of a web designer is often taken for granted by folks with little understanding of the job. It’s the
designers that develop the entire environment that users find welcoming. They conjure up and create a blueprint for the ultimate user experience. This is no light job given that they have to begin working from a clean slate. All they have is a verbal or written idea of what a client wants. They then tug at this idea and transform it into a usable web design. Therefore, it suffices the success of any web project greatly depends on the web designer who broke ground on the project.
Typically, web designers start their work by analyzing the scope of a website; i.e. The purpose and focus of the site. After scrutinizing the scope as well as the features and specifications from the client, the designer will then sketch a model website. Next, they design wireframes and mock-ups. The final design of a website usually a layout of the web pages, typography, icons and buttons among other intricate features.
Features of Excellent Web Designers
- They are able to use tools such as Sketch, Photoshop and Illustrator to design a website.
- They possess impeccable graphics and logo design skills.
- They are always in the know on matters of the latest trends in design technology.
- They are excellent branding masters.
Once a website has been designed, it’s then passed onto the hands of web developers who then turn it into a live website. Developers, relying on a vast array of software, tools and languages, build the final website that users visit. Web development is as specialized as it is complicated. As such web developers can specialize in three fields;
- Back-end development involves more advanced programming that controls various features and interactions on web pages. This facet of development defines how the site works and how a user accomplishes different tasks using the functionality offered by the site. Developers here mainly deal with server requests and data. The developer, therefore, uses server languages such as ASP.NET and PHP as well as data query languages such as MySQL and SQL.
- Full-stack development includes aspects of front-end as well as back-end development. Full-stack developers are well-versed in tools and languages that are needed to build a complete, fully-functional website from scratch. They possess adequate knowledge of design as well as user experience.
This exposes the basics of web development goes to show that web development is both incredibly wide and unfathomably deep. The difference between a web designer and web developer is clear-cut. Based on your project needs you, therefore, can decide whether you should hire a web designer or web developer. Most web agencies will offer a well-structured guide to help you decide on which professional to hire for which project.
We will soon be building on what we have discussed here today and talk about such things as server-side and client-side rendering. So, stay tuned to our blog for more.