One for all the freelancers out there - looking to expand your IT skillset? Nick Williams has some tips for you.
The digital marketplace and its growth really deserves no introduction. We all know the sector continues to boom with new languages, platforms and job descriptions popping up on a daily basis. This makes it an extremely desirable wave to ride and with the aforementioned freshness of most job roles, it's an often easy market to get a foot in the door.
Regardless of your current or prior work experience, entering the web development market is something that is easy to do if you know what to do. Tools, training, practice and opportunities to showcase talent are easily accessible with very few overheads. This makes careers in programming and development relatively hassle free to transition into.
So, if you have the motivation to spend some time with your head in code and possible undertake some development training; then there are opportunities aplenty out there. Here are my tips on where to start on a career in web development.
From there you can propel your learning to be tailored to individual jobs, markets, purposes and requirements.
Decide your target market
The requirements of what you will most likely need to develop will be dictated by what market you wish to enter. For example; the games industry may require websites that are of a certain style and enable users a preview of games which would require different skills and knowledge of technologies than, developing an ecommerce website.
Deciding on what industry you wish to enter and therefore what client requirements are likely to be cannot be emphasised enough. It is all very well to learn specific applications and languages but, they are useless if they are not the optimal one to create a suitable solution.
Oldies but goodies
Dreamweaver, an esteemed application in the Adobe suite, is a great editing tool that works with CSS. It offers an excellent insight into using such applications in terms of features, good practices and functionality but also, offers complete flexibility in ‘manually’ coding in which ever language suits your purpose.
The application itself comes at a price but, if you are serious about embarking on a career as a web developer, it and dedicated Dreamweaver training are a very worthy investment.
PHP is a useful language to also learn. As even the simplest websites have interactive elements such as contact forms which makes having a language like PHP in your tool belt is very useful. And made even better, it is open source so your outlay is zero.
Content management systems are very much in demand since so many websites run on them. WordPress are leaders in this area, made more appealing by their low costs and extensive flexibility. It is stable and easy to use which is why it seems to have surpassed the previously popular Joomla and Drupal.
- WordPress - Although WordPress’s popularity does not necessarily mean that they are the best CMS on the market, it does mean that many people have heard of it and therefore can be quick to specify that they require a ‘WordPress website’. Therefor as a web developer, learning how to develop a WordPress site is very valuable indeed. The good news is that WordPress, originally designed for bloggers, is easy to use which only makes your job of learning it that much easier.
- Magento - Another CMS worth considering learning is Magento - a powerful ecommerce system. Unlike WordPress however, it is renowned for being tricky to learn and less intuitive than its competitors which in our opinion only makes the value of its knowledge greater. Magento is a popular choice for ‘serious’ ecommerce businesses which for you as web developer, means the likelihood of high pay. As with all PHP CMS Magento is open sourced – so you don’t have to pay to get access to the core files.
It is worth noting that both of these mentioned CMS have extremely active and supporting communities; a very valuable resource when you are just starting out. Although entry to the development job market is easier than some, it will still require a lot of training, time and dedication to get to the stage where you will be comfortable charging for your services or applying for specific positions.
Fortunately, web developers are constantly in demand so, if you learn your skills strategically, you should be able to enter the job market fairly quickly. Practice really does make perfect and in working with real clients on real jobs will enhance your ability to apply those skills to a tailored solution.
Nick Williams is a marketing assistant at Acuity Training, who are a hands-on training company based in Guildford, UK. Acuity provides advanced & beginner AutoCAD courses as well as SharePoint training.
Nick Williams works at Acuity Training, who provide hands-on instructor led training from their two UK offices.
Nick assists on multiple management and leadership courses from either of Acuity Training’s London or Surrey training centres.