If there's one thing the 21st century isn't short of, it's web developers.
Whether front-end designing or back-end developing is your area of choice, there's no doubt that, these days, there's a lot of competition out there.
With thanks to DIY website development programs and the increased accessibility of online learning, even those with the most limited of web development skills can loosely identify themselves as a 'web developer'.
But that's not a reason to deter you from web development as a career choice!
Follow these 23 simple tips and not only will you have a career in web development, but you'll be on your way to creating a successful career that will have no boundaries.
1. Decide which area of web development to specialise in.
Web development is an extremely multifaceted industry and there are many areas you can choose to specialise in. You can focus on designing the front-end. You can choose a programming skill to work in the back-end. You can build up a whole repertoire of specialised skills if you want to. The choice is yours, however, it's important that you do have specialist skills if you want to succeed.
2. Exercise discipline.
It's easy to make a list and have a plan but it's much harder to stick to it. Exercising self-discipline is undoubtedly the difference between success and failure as a web designer and your commitment will lead to your results.
3. Create a portfolio.
Your portfolio is your best opportunity to showcase a wide range of your unique web development skills. Potential clients will want to see websites you've created and assess them on how visually appealing, and functional they are.
You'll also need to provide client testimonials in your portfolio. Apart from your web development skills, it's important to your prospective clients that you're easy to work with. The web design process is intricate and complex, and clients want to know they're getting someone who will make the process as smooth as possible.
At the start of your career, you might need to work at a reduced rate in exchange for testimonials. This is just a short-term decision which will make your long-term career much more fruitful.
4. Get enthusiastic about development!
Because that level of enthusiasm is the difference between a career in web development and a successful career in web development.
5. Never forget the reason you chose web development.
As with any career, it's important to stay true to the root cause of why you decided on a career in web development. Web development isn't always easy. You're going to have difficult projects. You're going to have clients who are hard to get along with. And your learning will eventually hit roadblocks too. It's not always going to work out exactly as you want it to, and it's in those times, when it all seems too hard, that you'll need to remember your reason for becoming a web developer in the first place. This will give you the extra push you need to keep going.
Does the career suit your lifestyle? Do you just LOVE to create a business's online profile for them? Or does web development align with your creative flair?
Whatever your reason, once you've defined it, you're less likely to quit when it gets too hard.
6. Participate in online open-source collaboration.
The open source model gives universal access to the general public to improve on source codes that already exist. Taking part in open-source projects will help you network within the community plus build upon your levels of skill to develop both your experience and your reputation.
The biggest advantage of open source projects is that you don't need to be an expert to get involved and even the most inexperienced of web designers can take part.
By its very nature, a career in web development will present you with many challenges. If you give up at the first hurdle, you'll never have a successful career. It's in solving the many challenges that you encounter that you'll become a better developer. The exciting part of a career in web development is that you're never more than a few steps away from the next big breakthrough which could turn the whole industry on its head. But this will only happen if you keep going when things get tough!
8. Web development knowledge isn't everything.
OK, obviously knowledge counts for a lot, but certainly not everything! Your web development and web design knowledge is only one contributing factor to your success. Don't rest on your laurels! Reaching the top of your skill set in web development isn't all that will lead to your success, while it is significant, it's only one piece to the puzzle of your success.
When you're in front of the computer all day and working alone (as many web developers tend to do) it's easy to get side-tracked. Avoid falling into a procrastination trap to make sure you meet milestones and remain productive.
10. Commit to your development.
As a career choice, web development is an unlimited source of potential. It's an area where you'll never reach the top because there's ALWAYS something new to learn. Protocol changes and programs are continually superseded by releases of newer versions, and you must make an effort to continue to grow in line with developments in the industry.
11. Experience is vital.
If you have an opportunity to work on a project which will enhance your experience but doesn't pay very much, take my advice, and do the job anyway! Work for free if you must because a broad range of experience is invaluable in the web design industry. Having a range of projects under your web development belt is guaranteed to contribute to your success.
12. Create an online profile.
Potential clients will always research their web developer, and when they do, it's vital that your online profile gives a professional and appropriate representation of who you are. Your online profile is often the first step in the sales process so you must have your own website which suitably represents your skills and your brand. Build your own website as a medium to display your web development style, and create healthy social media profiles which are another excellent opportunity to exhibit who you are, and what you're capable of. You never know who's going to come across you on the internet so it's in your best interests to make like a boy scout and be prepared at all times!
13. Be realistic with your pricing.
In the early days of your career, it can be challenging to set your prices at a realistic rate. Set your rates too high and no one will choose you, set them too low and not only will you undersell your skills, you'll also cause people to question WHY you're so cheap!
When setting hourly rates, take into consideration the rest of the market, your experience, and the value you deliver to your clients. Don't forget, they're not just paying you for your time, they're also coming to you because you have a skill that they don't, so take all this into account when quoting.
14. Work strategically.
There's always a better way to do things, and your success depends on finding it! This not only relates to your web development skills but also your business procedures and protocol. Working strategically rather than reactively will lead to your success.
15. Decide your strategy.
If you want to make it as a successful web designer, it's imperative that you have a strategy. Web development involves a commitment to study, the ability to stick to a budget, and a definitive timeline to do it all in. Whether you choose to learn web development in your spare time from your day job, or you jump in with both feet and learn as much as you can in as short a time as possible, there are no limits to your strategy. The only pre-requisite that your strategy is realistic and it includes achievable milestones that you can tick off to keep moving forward.
Those milestones should centre around studying, creating your portfolio, taking on new clients, and focussing on areas that need improvement. It's vital that you're committed to your strategy to minimise the threat of getting overtaken by your competitors.
16. Put your plan into action.
Once you've written your strategy, then you need to start! This means dedicating yourself to reaching the milestones and goals involved and doing everything in your power to reach them. Many developers have started out with the same dreams as you but haven't achieved the success they planned for because they got side-tracked along the way. Remain committed to reaching your milestones and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
As with any business, your skills need to extend far beyond web development if you want a successful web development business. You'll also need to understand other business elements such as sales and customer service. If these areas aren't your strong points, it's important that you employ someone who can do this for you because these areas are just as important to your success as your web development skills.
18. Build an online community.
Due to the very nature of the industry, it's important that you make strong online connections. This will help you in every area as a web developer including learning, research, collaboration, and of course job opportunities.
The chances are that if you're a web developer you might have an introverted nature, so I'm sorry to put this in here, but yes, you do need to network! And face-to-face with other people! It's important that you stay in touch with local businesses and, while this might be out of your comfort zone, don't forget that at some stage, every person you come into contact with will require your services.
It's all down to how well you connect with them as to whether they choose you or not.
20. Put the shoe on the other foot.
It's important that as a web designer you can see things from everyone's point of view. You need to put yourself in the place of your client, their clients and so forth. The website you're developing must do everything set out in the initial brief, and you're the one to deliver.
Which brings me on to my next point...
21. Have a watertight briefing process.
You might think it's enough just to meet and have a chat with the client to understand what's expected of you, but it's rarely ever that simple. Not only will a thorough brief help you to understand what the client wants, it'll also help you if something goes wrong during the process as it'll give you a hard document to refer to in the event of any dispute.
22. Find new ways to do things.
It's inevitable that in many areas you're going to need to find new ways to do things before you get it right. As a developer, you must be persistent and keep trying. If you give up, you'll never make it.
23. Ask for feedback.
Learn how to ask for feedback because if it's delivered constructively, feedback has the potential to make you an even better web developer. It takes skill to see feedback as a positive rather than feeling criticised if it's less than favourable, however, if you're not too proud to take it, feedback is an excellent way to improve your skills.
These are some of the many ways you can transition from 'just a web developer' into a successful web developer whose career knows no bounds!
Did we miss any steps? Feel free to comment below if you feel like we've left anything out! Like and share this article if it's been of some use!