Is Learning Web Development Worth It?

October 11, 2021

If you've ever found yourself staring at a computer, wondering if learning web development is worth it, you're not alone. Many others have been at the same crossroads, trying to decide whether investing countless hours to become savvy in web development is going to pay off. The short answer is: it depends on your individual goals.

Studying web development is worth it if you are seeking a naturally rewarding career. Consumers, business owners, and professionals in other fields can also benefit from gaining a basic understanding of web development. You don't have to know it all to know enough to understand the key concepts.

freelancer in Minnesota learning web development

Growing your knowledge of frameworks, databases, servers, and the many coding languages can help you solve many common web-based problems. Plus, in an increasingly digital world, it will always be helpful to know how to efficiently and effectively create websites or who to hire to do it for you.

Before you start, take a moment to think about what motivates you to learn web development. Whatever the reason, I plan to validate your choice to become a developer by explaining how worthwhile the web development field is. 

To What Extent Is Web Development Worth It?

Just like you don't have to be a professional athlete to enjoy soccer, you don't need to be a developer to enjoy and appreciate web development. The more you practice, the better you become. Even learning a small amount can significantly improve your teamwork.

When Learning Web Development Is Worth It

Learning the basics of coding languages like HTML, PHP, SQL, XML, Javascript, or CSS, the database, servers, and API can help you communicate better with team members. 

Having more in-depth knowledge about coding languages will also give you a significant advantage if you're ever in charge of building a website. But knowing which types of coding languages to focus on will depend on what you want to develop and how customizable and feature-rich your website is.

Web developer in Minnesota learns how to use coding framework from bootcamp

Frameworks Make the Dream Work

Depending on your situation, you may want to use a software framework. This abstraction consists of is existing code that provides generic functionality and can be selectively changed to work within your specific application.

Using a framework requires less web development knowledge than it takes to code a website from scratch. You might use a framework to organize project files or construct a drag and drop interface. One such example is WordPress's fully built PHP framework that enables people with minimal web development knowledge to create websites.

Studying more in-depth coding languages will allow you to build safer websites that are easier to maintain and recover.

Web Development Beyond the Basics

Building a website involves a lot more than making it look aesthetically pleasing. While visual and UX designers will typically focus on the site's aesthetic, your role as a web developer is to make the website fast, secure, functional, and reliable.

Building up your knowledge of coding languages can help you develop more reliable and customizable websites. For some, the feeling of accomplishment that comes after completing an eight-month project makes the hours spent learning code well worth it.

You're Not Alone: Collaboration in the Web Dev Community

Another benefit is that the community of developers is very collaborative. An example of this is open-code toolkits, like Boostrap, which make all types of software code available to the public.

Collaboration and transparency allow developers to learn from each others' successes or copy another developers' system step by step. Even the creators of Twitter started coding the website on an open-source platform for everyone to see—which allowed them to experiment with and strengthen their framework.

When Learning Web Development is Not Worth It

Depending on the company you work for, learning the basics of coding languages for the sole purpose of making a website from scratch might not be worth it for the following reasons: 

  1. Other members of your team may already know how to code in much more extensive detail. If that is the case, they could do that part of the website building for you. For this reason, anyone working in marketing, graphic design, or sales will probably not need to learn how to code.
  2. It is quicker and easier to use a website builder application than start from scratch. If your boss or client asks you to build a website, creators like WordPress or Squarespace will make your life so much simpler.  
  3. It takes a lot of time to learn development and know enough to construct a website with strong data integrity, 99% uptime, and excellent user experience and accessibility. Sure, you may be able to create a website, but will it be good?

Don't let this list discourage you. Learning web development takes time and commitment. Ultimately, it can be worthwhile for everyone to understand how the web works, even as a consumer, graphic designer, or business owner.

Low Barriers to Entry

The good news is, learning web development is relatively accessible. All you need is a basic computer, access to the internet, and some free time.

There are countless resources online that make it easy to learn at your own pace. But it's not just the easy access to information that makes this profession more accessible than others. 

Learning web development is great for the following reasons:

  • No college degree required
  • You can learn for free online
  • You can start at any age
  • It doesn't require a lot of technical equipment
Woman in Minneapolis teaches herself how to become a web developer

Learning for free

When it comes to learning about web development, you can gain experience for no cost by reading up on industry trends on WDRL (web development reading list) at https://wdrl.info/archive or attending FreeCodeCamp.com.

There are also several low-cost coding bootcamps, but most are not entirely free. Some of the best resources include The Odin Project, Codecademy, and Coding Dojo.

Before you pay for a bootcamp, make sure to do your research. Some coding camps are better than others, especially when it comes to gaining project and result-oriented experience to put on your resume.

Focus on Your Portfolio

Listing a well-respected bootcamp on your resume can do a lot to earn you points with hiring managers. Interviewers primarily judge developers based on their portfolio of completed work. A good bootcamp will help you develop and refine your portfolio. 

Since your portfolio is what companies will look at the most, you don't need to have a college degree to be a web developer. Many successful web designers never attended college and learned web development on their own instead. 

Get Experience Before You Apply

Typically the best way to get your foot in the door for a particular job in web development is to have already done the job you are applying for. Hiring managers want to see your skills and capabilities in action.

For example, say you want to become a WordPress plugin developer. The best thing you could put in your portfolio is the successful WordPress plugins you've created. 

You should use this approach for any niche in web development you might want to pursue. An excellent way for new web developers to gain experience is to create free plugins, apps, or software for others to use in open source code. 

Lots of Opportunities = Lots of Flexibility

If you're worried about becoming bored in your current job because you've learned everything there is to know, web development might be the career for you. 

In web development, there are many areas you can specialize in. There are three main specializations you may want to pursue: front-end developer, back-end developer, or full-stack developer. 

Freelander in the Twin Cities learns web development for free online
  1. A front-end developer helps design and modify a site's visual elements and interface using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Typically, they use frameworks like Bootstrap to create responsive designs. These roles are in charge of debugging and testing the site using browser development tools. They also monitor the website's key performance indicators like speed.  
  2. A back-end developer creates the systems to support the website's front end, including the website database, server, and API. Back-end developer jobs can involve building frameworks or architecture, writing unit tests, producing a payment processing system, or organizing a system's logic.
  3. A full-stack developer is an expert in front and back-end development. These professionals typically know the systems in slightly less detail than someone specializing in front-end or back-end development alone. 
Type of Developer Skills Needed
Front End Programs: JavaScript, HTML, CSS, JQuery, HTML5, CSS3, Ajax, JavaScript, Angular, ReactJS, vue.js, Ember.js and Meteor.js

UX/UI

Back End JavaScript, HTML, CSS, JQuery, SQL, Java, Linux, Python, Ruby, PHP
Full Stack JavaScript, HTML, CSS, JQuery, PHP, SQL, HTML5, Ajax, CSS3, Linux, Python, Ruby, Angular or ReactJS, UI; HTTP/HTTPS, Bootstrap, Git, GitHub,  SourceFree 

LAMP Stack - Linux, Apache, MYSQL, PHP

MERN Stack - MongoDB, Express, Angular.js, Node.js

MEAN Stack - MongoDB, Express, Angular.js, Node.js

As you can see, there are dozens of frameworks, languages, and systems to learn. It's up to you to figure out where you want to spend your time. 

Right now, there's a high demand for web developers. You can either aim to fill one of the millions of unfilled positions within a company or consider contracting out your services to multiple companies. The flexibility you get from freelancing can allow you to travel, set your schedule, and help more people that desperately need your skills.

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