Why Is Web Development So Hard? (Plus Tips!)

July 9, 2021

The process of programming, building, and maintaining a website is web development. To someone unfamiliar with the ins and outs of web development, creating a website may not seem that difficult. But those of us who have tried to build a good site before know how difficult it can be.

Web development is complex because of the various factors involved in forming a high-ranking, top-performing website. There is a wealth of information web developers need to know to build and maintain a robust website. For example, developers must be familiar with website databases, CSS frameworks, APIs, servers, multiple programming languages, security, information architecture, and debugging.

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Studying these segments of web development takes a lot of time and dedication. On top of that, staying relevant is challenging because the field is constantly adapting as new technology becomes available. 

Even though web development is complicated, we still highly encourage everyone to have a little knowledge about web development. This knowledge can come in handy whether you're a consumer or an industry thought leader.

Also, don't feel too overwhelmed when you think everything there is to know in the web development field. The amount YOU need to know varies significantly depending on your background, career, and goals.

Here are a few beginner tips about web development from the experts that will hopefully make your learning a little easier.

Knowledge Needed to Create a High Performing Website

One of the big reasons getting a job in web development is so difficult is the vast amount of information there is to learn. The good news is, you don't need to know everything.

There are two main parts of web development: front-end and back-end. It is common for developers to specialize in one of these two areas. Others choose to learn both, depending on what makes sense for their line of work. 

Woman performing front end website development in Minnesota

Front End Development

Front-end developers help code the parts of a website that a user will see, such as colors, fonts, and menus. This type of development involves programming a responsive web design, taking care of any bugs, testing the site, performing cross-browser tests, version control, and occasionally creating CSS frameworks.

However, while front-end developers program visual elements, they do not design the website itself. That is something a web designer does.

Back End Development

Back-end developers are the programmers who write code that supports the front-end of the website. The output of this code is not as evident as it is in front-end development. These developers work to make sure everything runs smoothly in the background. They manage the website's servers (referred to as DevOps), databases, and APIs.

Additionally, they work hard to build the logic behind what the website does. These tasks require back-end developers to problem solve and utilize algorithms more often than front-end developers.

Full Stack Development 

Full Stack developers are skilled at both front and back-end development. Though sometimes, this means they have less depth of knowledge in both. They handle everything from the planning phase of the project to building out the user interfaces.

DevOps = Development & Operations

DevOps helps create a better product development process between developers and operations. How it works is the developer plans the project, codes it, builds it out in programs like Maven or Gradle, and finally tests it.

If it passes that test, it moves on to operations where developers continuously configure it into its desired state using programs like Puppet or Docker. Next, it is monitored and sent back to the developer for ongoing improvements if needed.

Ever Changing Technology

Staying up to date with continuously evolving technology as a developer requires persistence and is not for the faint of heart. There is no way one person can keep up with every release of new plugin software, CMS systems, or code-building programs. However, you can prioritize the tools and techniques most valuable to your field and stay current on the trends and programs within that niche. 

Resources To Stay Tech Savvy

The Web Developer Reading List (WDRL) is one excellent resource that can help you stay up-to-speed on the news https://wdrl.info/archive. It is a free reading list that covers the latest trends, tricks, and debates on web technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node.js, PHP, and more.

Another way you can stay tech-savvy is to attend web development seminars and trade shows. You can also join web development associations to connect with other web experts. 

Troubleshooting in a Website

Debugging a website is one of the main reasons web development is challenging. Troubleshooting a website could include increasing page speed, fixing broken links, or figuring out why a page won't load.

Many issues can arise when building a website. A web developer needs to keep various tools and techniques in their back pocket to solve problems as they arise.

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Error Codes

The 404 error code is one of the most common errors, but many other examples can pop up on your website. Knowing what each type is will significantly help your ability to fix them. 

Types of Errors Issue
401 Unauthorized You have invalid credentials or need to log in.
403 Forbidden The website has rejected your access request. You might fix this error by getting the right website permissions or asking the website owner for permission.  
404 Page Not Found The requested resource can no longer be located.  It may be due to aged content that moved to a new address or a typo in the URL. 
410 Page Permanently Not Found The requested resource no longer exists.
500 Internal Server Error This code indicates there is a general server issue because your server can't identify a specific error.
503 Service Unavailable The server can't handle your request, which is often due to server maintenance or a traffic overload. 
504 Gateway Timeout A network issue occurs when the background server doesn't send data to your server fast enough. Refreshing the page, restarting your device, or trying again later may help. The server could be slow due to high traffic to the web page.

These are just a few of the most common error messages you might encounter as a web developer. Hopefully, this list gives you a good starting point.

Debugging Tools

Many extensions are available to help you complete your project quickly and keep it error-free. Software varies based on the coding language you use. Still, the table below describes when to use a few of the most popular tools.

Extensions Functionality
Formatting Keeps code in the correct alignment (like using indentations)
Snippet Assists you in writing repetitive code faster
Browser Allows you to see the effects of your code in a browser without refreshing the page constantly.
Framework Pre-written programs in a specific programming language (HTML, Javascript, etc.) help shorten the time required to code a project.
Syntax Highlights syntax in color contrasting code to quickly identify mistakes.
Linter Mark programming errors and questionable constructs
Testing  Detect errors in code like omitted curlies

Tips for Learning Web Development

Now that you have an overview of web development, here are a few great learning tips. 

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Online Learning

FreeCodeCamp.org (https://www.freecodecamp.org/) is an excellent free resource that builds your web development portfolio while helping nonprofits. Talk about a win-win scenario.

Code Academy (https://www.codecademy.com/) also has free coding courses that are great for learning syntax. If you are training to become a web developer, it's vital to track your work during these coding classes. This experience will help you build a result-oriented portfolio that could land you a job down the road. 

WDRL

Check out the Web Developer's Reading List (https://wdrl.info/archive) if you haven't already.  We are highlighting this twice because it is a killer resource.

Not only is it free, but WDRL makes it so easy to stay on top of industry trends. One great feature of WDRL is that it separates articles into weekly and evergreen content. 

Stack OverFlow

Stack Overflow (https://stackoverflow.com/) is an online forum where developers can get multiple answers to difficult coding questions. This forum is a great place to go for more in-depth questions, especially if you have been in web development for a long time and cannot find answers on Google.

Coding Playgrounds

JSFiddle (https://jsfiddle.net/) is a simple online code-sharing tool that lets developers test their JavaScript, CSS, HTML, or CoffeeScript codes in a browser. It is also a hub for developers to ask questions on their web projects. Another similar program is Codepen.io (https://codepen.io/), which also allows for community sharing and project experimenting.

What’s Next?

If you are starting from ground zero, expect to be frustrated when learning web development. There is a lot to learn, and technology is constantly changing.

Not just that, but some technical issues can take a long time to solve. Luckily there are plenty of excellent free online communities for you to join and resources to take advantage of, from coding boot camps to playgrounds.

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