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Can Web Developers Be Self-Taught?

Web development is an exciting and often fast-paced career. It’s also one where you can work with a wide variety of concepts and technologies. You’ve undoubtedly found yourself fully engaged with a website at one time or another. If this is something you want to do as a career, web development helps you create that type of engaging and enjoyable material. However, you may be unsure of what skills you need or the best way to acquire them. And there’s a lot of confusion over the role of self-study versus formal education in web development. In short, can web developers be self-taught? First, let’s look at what a web developer does.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

It’s important to clarify what a web developer does before looking at educational strategies. You may think of web development encompassing the totality of a website. However, web development can be divided into two separate areas. These are frontend and backend development tasks. Once again, these might be broken into different departments. Some web developers only work with the frontend code that constitutes the actual HTML a user sees when viewing a website. Other web developers specialize in the backend code that runs on a web server rather than the browser.

However, unlike graphic design tasks, it’s fairly common for a web developer to work within both of these domains. The same web developer who writes backend code for accessing products within a server’s database might also write the website code to display those items to customers. Web developers might also work on the periphery of a website’s main functions. So, can web developers be self-taught?

Can Web Developers Be Self-Taught?

Stories of web developers who make it big by learning to program on their own can happen. This leads to wondering if they can learn web development on their own. It’s possible to learn a few elements involved with web development in an informal environment. However, there are several reasons why this isn’t a viable strategy for everyone interested in a web development career.

Many programming careers focus on a single programming language or development environment. That’s far from the case for web developers. As you’ll soon see, web developers must master many programming languages and environments. Even if you’re not using a language on a day-to-day basis, you still need to work with those uncommon elements. For example, someone who works with JavaScript might be called on to port that code to a Node.js environment.

Also, those that are self-taught may have a lot of gaps in their education. When self-educating, you may not know what you don’t know. You can learn how to perform a task one way and assume that you’ve mastered it. However, you might need a solid grasp of multiple approaches to that problem within a professional environment.

On top of that, the industry moves at lightning speed. For example, cloud computing went from a non-existent technology to an industry mainstay over the course of just a few years. Likewise, the adoption of just-in-time compilation for JavaScript made that language go from a mildly useful browser to a complete environment for application development. And you’ll find countless examples within the IT field of this phenomenon. Fully educated professionals keep track of these changes as part of their job, but those that are self-taught often fail to notice these new developments.

How to Become a Web Developer?

Instead of being self-taught, it is better to attend a Web Application Design and Development program. This program is meticulously designed so the classes build upon themselves until you have a solid foundation. Plus, you can get an education in web development in as little as 7 1/2 months, attending full-time day classes. The following are the important topics covered in a Web Application Design and Development program:


HTML and CSS are the main languages of client-side coding. These are the languages that a browser loads to present a website. HTML describes a web page’s basic contents. For example, text and static images are set within HTML. While CSS tells a browser how to lay out those items in a visually pleasing way. You can think of HTML like what an author would create for a magazine, while CSS is analogous to the visual flair added to the author’s text by a graphic designer.

Data Development Utilizing Database Design and SQL

HTML and CSS are created for content that doesn’t need constant updating. For example, a page describing a company’s history would need less updates. However, a page describing the company’s best-selling items would need to constantly change to match customers’ buying habits. A web developers can access updated information from a database using the SQL language. This page would then incorporate self-updating elements.


XML and JSON are common methods used to bridge databases, servers, and client-side web pages. The main advantage of XML and JSON is the ease in leveraging real-time communication. If you see a site that’s dynamically showing information from a remote server then it’s typically using one of these two methods. This makes XML and JSON a perfect match for many web apps.

Programming with JavaScript and jQuery

JavaScript was once seen as a novelty language that could add extra flair to a site. However, just in time (JIT) compilation within browsers dramatically improved its speed and efficiency. This has led to JavaScript becoming one of the world’s most popular programming languages. If you need a website to change dynamically then you’ll use JavaScript, and the jQuery library makes this even easier by improving JavaScript’s syntax and fixing problems with the JavaScript engines used by a browser.

Web Services with Node.js

Web services describe a host of techniques for backend development. But one is becoming increasingly important for web developers, Node.js. Node.js takes advantage of JavaScript’s speed improvements to make it a native environment on web servers. This makes it easy to move client-side code onto a server.

Object-Oriented Programming with Java

Java is a popular language for writing code to a server. The language’s biggest advantage is that it’s platform agnostic. The Java code you write for an x64-based system will work on almost any other system, for example an ARM processor. Java was also one of the first programming languages written with the Web in mind. This makes it easier to use Java in online environments.

Programming with Python

Python has many of the same advantages as Java. However, it can be easier to write with, and can lead to faster development cycles. Python code is also arguably more platform agnostic than Java. Recent projects have even implemented real-time translation of Python to JavaScript. This makes it easy to turn Python scripts into something that can run in web browsers without needing the compiled browser extensions required by Java.

PHP programming with MySQL

PHP sits in between backend languages like Java and frontend languages like JavaScript. When a browser sends a request for a PHP-based page the server software acts like a preprocessor. The server software runs the PHP code within the PHP file and then hands off finalized data to a browser. This contrasts with JavaScript where a browser reacts to specific tags which tell it to execute JavaScript code. PHP isn’t bound to a single type of database, but you’ll typically see PHP paired with a MySQL database.

E-commerce and Content Management Systems (CMS)

Commerce is a big part of the modern web. As such, any web developer should be able to set up and maintain e-commerce and content management systems. A development course covers the basics of these packages, but you’ll also learn how to work as an administrator for them. So, you’ll know how to implement various extensions and packages used within these content management systems.

Want to Learn More?

Now that you know that a formal education is a better way to become a web developer, are you ready to learn web development from industry experienced instructors? The Web Application Design and Development program transforms beginning computer coding students into entry-level full-stack web developers. The Web Application Design and Development program focuses on the main programming languages including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JAVA, Python, SQL, and PHP.

This Web Application Design and Development diploma program at Hunter Business School covers both front-end and back-end web development topics, starting with client-side programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, then gradually advancing to object-oriented programming, Enterprise Java, and database design.

Through a series of hands-on projects, Web Application Design and Development training program students not only cultivate an understanding of computer coding and programming concepts, but also learn to work in a collaborative team environment, practice software development methodology skills, and prepare a sizable portfolio for their new career.

Contact us today to find out more on how to become a web developer on Long Island.