What is a Web Developer?

There is a term that you will hear very often when looking into getting a new web site or a web application made - 'Web developer'. It's a specialised term that is used within the industry, but not everyone outside of the industry knows what it means. 

A web developer is a person (or a business) whose job it is to create a website or web app. There are various parts to a fully professional business ready web application( I'll use the term app here to describe both web applications and web sites, with a web application being web-based  software devoted to a task), and the developer could be said to be responsible for all or some of these, depending on the environment he works in, or the areas he specialises in.


Some of these will include;

- A wireframe and flow chart of the application to show a basic layout of the pages, and a guide to how a person will likely move through them
- A designer to work out the look of the site, and where all the various parts of the site will fit in, their colours, fonts, images and so on to achieve a consistent look that is user-friendly
- a front end developer to turn those designs into web-ready code
- a back end developer to work out the database interactions and how they will update information on the front end
- there may also be animators or specialists in the interactions that occur on the front end
- depending on the complexity you may also need content writers, database developers who will work out the complex interactions of the database, search engine specialists and cloud server specialists. 

Each of these people will have their own set of skills and web-based languages that they will write their code in, but each working in with one another.

A smaller job will allow just one or two individuals to do all of the above functions, but they must remain as distinct functions for a full and complete job to be done.

I have seen many people advertise themselves as 'web developers' and yet have very little or no understanding of the above. They may be willing to accept payment for a word press (or similar) 'cookie cutter' site, where they will do little more than plug your information into a pre-made template, and accept payment as if they had developed the full site. The difference is like comparing a caravan to a fully designed and built house.

If you are in the market for a web developer, ask enough questions so that you can find out for certain what you are going to get. Don't pay for a service you are not going to receive, and insist that your web developer (or web development team) are up for the task at hand.

With a good, properly briefed web developer, the success of your web application becomes a whole lot more certain.