How to Become a Web Developer
Peter Miller is a Web developer at Seattle Web Group. Before he began his career, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Washington.
During his time as a Web developer, Peter has built hundreds of websites, and he has experience in all aspects of Web development. He also works as a consultant on Web strategy and online usability.
What is Web development?
“Web development” typically refers to the construction of websites and Web-based applications, and complements the “Web design,” which is the creation of how the site looks. Web developers perform more of an engineering role than an aesthetic design role.
Why did you decide to enter the field of Web development?
When I first started in the field, Web development was new and exciting, with fairly low barriers to entry. I was able to jump into Web design without a lot of experience.
Are there common misconceptions about your profession?
One of the misconceptions that exists is that features commonly seen on websites are easy to implement. People will often expect features they see on Facebook or Amazon.com to be quick upgrades to their own site.
What is a typical day like for you?
Most of the time during my day is divided between working on small tasks, making progress on larger projects and communicating with clients and colleagues via email. I have in-person meetings several times each week with various clients and partners.
What are your favorite aspects of your job?
Having the ability to work on a variety of projects keeps the work fresh and prevents monotony. I get to learn about a variety of companies and industries, learning about and helping them with their challenges.
What are your least favorite aspects of your job?
Effectively dealing with the workload and simultaneous projects can be a challenge. Since development is usually the final stage of the website creation process, our timeline is typically condensed and pushed against a deadline.
What classes did you take in college that are the most relevant to your job?
I benefited most from the time spent on general business-related courses: marketing, public relations, communications, etc. Often, what makes a website successful isn’t how well it’s programmed or how nice it looks, but how well it was planned, and whether the strategy that went into the website’s creation was based upon sound business principles. Although it isn’t a Web developer’s responsibility to make a client’s business a success, the more understanding and insight one can have into the business objectives, the more effective that development will be.
What personality traits do you think would help someone to be successful as a Web development professional?
A person who enjoys solving problems and overcoming challenges would have an advantage in the field of Web development. It is also important to have effective communications skills, since Web developers are often called on to translate technical information to nontechnical people.
What personality traits do you think might hinder someone's success as a web development professional?
Perfectionism can be a hindrance, since Web developers often need to work under a deadline, and there are often several ways to approach a problem. Also, when doing work for clients or managers, they tend to insist on changes you may not agree with, so inflexibility can be a liability.
What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is considering studying to enter the web development field?
As with most computer-related fields, be prepared to adapt and refine your skills as your career progresses. Don’t assume that a language or framework you studied in school or mastered when you were starting out, will still be a marketable skill in future years. Focus on those areas of your skillset that don’t become outdated, and always look to pick up new skills and techniques.