12 Skills You Need to Develop a Website

Have you ever wished to consider yourself as a self taught web developer without going to college to learn CSS, PHP, Javascript and avoiding this long-term self-learning of programming languages via books and online courses? At the end of this article we will suggest some ideas to accomplish this, but first we need to look through the list of skills which a well-qualified web developer should have. Here we include human streaks, tech and software skills.

Website Development Skills

12 Skills You Need to Develop a Website

1. Programming

The first skill one needs to master for being a web developer is programming. Many languages exist for different aims, but you need to know at least a few of them to be able to code a website. You can choose the ones you like by simplicity or complexity of learning, the universal use, the web development standards, the trends, recommendations, etc. For example, HTML is the standardized markup language to create documents on the web, in other words to format the content on the webpage. This includes titles, headings, text and links. It is the most common and basic language used in website development.

CSS, which means Cascading Style Sheets, is a language paired with HTML to allow a programmer to set the webpage style. Here we mean layout, colors, and fonts. These elements are kept separate from the main webpage code.

JavaScript is the solution for animation, games, apps, and interactivity on a website. All dynamic effects on a site are created via this programming language. There are more languages like PHP, Perl, ASP.Net, Python, Ruby, pick what is the most interesting and useful for yourself.

Places to Learn Programming:

  • Codecademy is a good source with many lessons on HTML & CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, and PHP. The advantage of this online academy is a variety of courses by their topic, knowledge level, and their free online accessibility.
  • Udacity is a site with free (and paid) college courses on web development, software engineering and more. The huge benefit of this kind of learning resource is the verified certificate you can get - this is more than just an online video, or eBook that you download somewhere on the web.

2. Learning

‘Learn the basics but be always hungry for more’ - this principle describes many professions, and web development particularly. People who deal with technologies, innovations, and web development should understand how critical it is to keep their finger on the pulse regarding novelties. Web developers will be of interest for potential employers when he knows a lot, can create whatever website or application, is able to fix bugs, can be unique and creative.

Where to Learn:

  • Tutorial9 is an online generator of web development tutorials taken from all over the web. Here you can find an article with a detailed instruction on how to create a specific feature in HTML, with CSS, etc. This site is a good resource for self-improvement when you have already learned the basics.

3. Testing

Testing is a big part of the website development process, which is not only coding and design alone. A web developer is a tester to a certain extent. Before giving the final product (i.e. website) to your client, make sure everything is done properly:

  • browser compatibility (the site is suitable for any browser);
  • links direct appropriately;
  • forms work;
  • navigation menu algorithm is perfect;
  • pages load fast;
  • etc.

Actually, as a web developer you should test every detail you have created. Though, it is not your responsibility when you work with a big team of specialists, where you have a tester to back you up.

Helpful Testing Tools:

  • Web Performance offers you simple yet efficient tools for load testing and QA testing. The tools are paid but free trials are available.

    Web Performance

  • Ghostlab offers you synchronized browser testing for any device. It tests scrolls, clicks, reloads and form input. Within this tool you can test the entire website, not one page. Ghostlab is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. It connects to any JavaScript-enabled client immediately so no setup is required.


4. Basic Knowledge of Design

A developer is not the same as a designer, but design skills are useful and helpful to developers in their everyday work, and awareness of development is helpful for a designer.

Developers should learn a bit of graphic design, because this can bring him a good awareness of many graphic tools which are useful for better development. When developers learn design techniques, they get a better understanding of website appeal and acquire better design taste. Taste is essential for every creative artist.

Developers and designers usually work on the same project, but on different aspects of it. This is great when they understand each other and can collaborate and of course sharing knowledge and experience helps with this. Professional recommendation is a good source of learning.

With the ever-growing popularity of responsiveness, developers need to understand principles of responsive design, too. This is for both self-improvement and gaining a better level of professionalism.

You can start learning the design basics by following online inspiration resources, looking for helpful and understandable tutorials and of course by applying your knowledge in practice.

Where to learn:

  • You can take a design course on Lynda, that’s where I love learning design. There are many free courses with useful material presented in a plain way, and also it is a resource for learning more than just design.
  • Web design blogs are a font of knowledge for beginners and pros. Pick the ones with frequent publications, useful content and inspiration section, like these: About.com, Webdesigner Depot, Designmodo, etc.

5. SEO

Search engine optimization is more the job of an SEO specialist or a marketer than a developer or designer, who still can’t neglect SEO strategies and techniques.

The first factor which reflects on SEO is time, or speed. Developers deal with this the most, so they should understand the crucial importance of website speed for SEO tactics. This factor depends on a developer’s job, and particularly on which programming languages they use.

Developers have to be aware of the proper redirect ways. This is when one page is available with several URLs, and there are two types of this you should learn - 301 and 302 redirect.

To add some more facts to consider: Meta tags and titles, subdomains, internal linking, sitemap are all key components of SEO.

How to learn SEO Online:

  • Get this MOZ Guide to learn SEO online with nice visual content provided. This guide contains much information on search engines in general, keyword research, SEO-friendly design, etc.
  • Hobo SEO Tutorial is the one you can open in your browser and read. The biggest advantage over many other tutorials is its consistent updates, so that the data is always fresh.

6. Understanding Common Security Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Web development is a many-sided profession: he is a programmer, tester, designer and he is a security provider. Security skills are indispensable when creating a website. You need to be ready for any security attack and know how to provide a safe solution for it.

The major attacks we give you below, though your own practical knowledge will provide you with more than that:

  • Attack #1
    SQL injection is an attack of data-driven software (applications), when dangerous SQL statements are inserted into input forms or fields. This attack is mostly known as those applied to websites, though any database application can suffer from it.

    The use of parameterized queries is a solution for this security issue.

    Read more about SQL injection.

  • Attack #2
    Cross-site scripting attack occurs when a hacker uses a malicious script to infect an innocent web page. When a user browses this page, the dangerous script is downloaded automatically. Depending on the purpose and script, something bad to a website happens.

    You should acquire the habit of checking the data being submitted to any form on a website and encode any HTML.

    Learn more on how to prevent cross-scripting attacks.

  • Attack #3
    Error messages can be a source of information for hackers. Ensure that you do not disclose any important info in these messages. For example, if a user entered correct login details but an incorrect password in a sign-in form, make an error message something like ‘you have entered your login or password incorrectly’ instead of ‘Incorrect password’. When a hacker knows that one field was right, he would concentrate just on the other one.

    Check this Error Messages Design Gallery for inspiration.

Error Messages Design Gallery

7. Image Resizing and Effects

In most cases developers rely on designers for working with images. But basic knowledge of Photoshop and a few more programs can become a helpful skill. So the very minimum is: a developer of a website should be able to resize or crop an image, customize the colors, apply some effects like transparency.

You can read this article to learn 10 new image editing programs.

8. Resoluteness

Experience makes us better and new trials or even mistakes give us this experience. Developers do not have a right to doubt, he should try new things all the time to gain a better result, and develop with a new power. This is more like a human trait, not a skill, but you can’t become a developer without this.

9. Confidence

Confidence in what you are doing can help you to save time and spend it on something more important than millions of tests. Because when you are not sure of the quality of your work, you will check it again and again until your time for this project finishes. This is not just about the time, but emotional and professional feel.

10. Frustration Tolerance and Patience

Website development can’t be perfect from your very first trial, if only you were a zero-bug developer. It would be amazing to know you are! Testing actually aims to make software bug-free, but we are talking more about the case when you are the only person working on the code, and testing is what you do alone. Patience is a very important feature that a good developer should have. You need to treat mistakes as something which leads you to perfection.

11. Time Management and Detailed Planning

You would definitely love to have some time to spend with friends or watch a good movie, but you don’t know how to assign it? The problem is that you can’t manage your time. Now, we will provide you with a few tips to learn how to plan your time and tasks:

  1. Set long-term goals as well as short-term.
  2. Plan tasks in detail to avoid re-planning.
  3. Make a to-do list to follow each day.
  4. Don’t shelve difficult tasks, break them into smaller pieces and do them straightaway.
  5. Discipline yourself, make your working hours consistent.
  6. Include time for rest in your schedule.

Useful tools:

  • Rescue Time - install to plan your day in a more efficient way. This app will send you weekly reports on where you waste your time. Know your time thieves!

    Rescue Time

  • Toggl is an app to control the time you spend on every project and task. It also analyzes how to manage tasks quicker.


12. Laziness

I am not kidding you! Be a bit lazy, really. Look for efficient but the easiest solutions for every task, don’t do everything twice: make your first attempt be the last.


Now, as I promised, I will give you a ‘lazy’ solution to overcome long learning and becoming a professional developer. What do you think about website building platforms? I have an idea that they can replace website developers in the future. Perhaps, this would happen just partially in the case when users can make websites for their personal or business purposes themselves. There are hundreds of various site builders from niche to all-purpose, for example Let’s Eat is a builder for restaurant websites, Adobe Muse serves graphic designers the best, and MotoCMS is suitable for anyone from financial consultants to travel agents, and also, this tool is flexible, it is very functional. These and many other website development tools allow users with any level of skills to make a nice and functional website. So, you have two ways: master 12 skills to become a developer or use any of the website builders to get new experience and try yourself in a new role.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Onextrapixel.