The expert advice: How to become a web developer

By Hannah McIntosh

Women hold just 31 per cent of the UK’s jobs in tech, according to a February 2022 report from the Office for National Statistics. While it’s pleasing to see this number has risen significantly in recent years, diversity in technology is still a crucial issue – the Harvey Nash Technology and Talent Survey 2021 shows just 10 per cent of technology leaders are women.

Here at Women in Tech, we’re passionate about increasing gender diversity and inclusion within technical fields. One way we do this is by hosting our free web development courses for women, which you can register for here.

Our Introduction to Web Development course gives women of any background and experience the chance to learn the basics of creating a website and gain the confidence to pursue a technical career. We spoke to Tanya Chopra and Umma Gohil, two of our web dev experts and in-house instructors, to find out more about how you can get started.

Why web dev?

A website has the power to shape people’s views of the company that owns it, for good or bad. At its best, a great website will go beyond simply enabling interactions and sales, it will cause people to tell others about the company. At its worse, a poor website can damage the company’s reputation and go viral for all the wrong reasons. That’s why it’s so important for more people to understand the basics of web development and design.

Yet we’re seeing barriers to women learning these crucial digital skills. Umma explained that “an overwhelming number of women have told us they found coding ‘scary’ or felt they didn’t have the necessary background to succeed.”

Tanya continued: “That’s largely due to common misconceptions about coding, such as it requiring strong maths skills. Web development involves very little maths as it focuses on design and usability.”

How can you become a web developer?

The hardest part of learning to code is starting. Many of our course participants who told us coding was ‘scary’ found that, by the end of the course, they were eager to learn more.

Umma believes social media and the internet more broadly is a great way to learn from the experts: “Twitter is a good way to understand what’s going on in the industry and helped me focus on where my interests were. Following the accounts of well-known people in the industry is great for finding useful blog posts for both learning and inspiration.”

Web development uses a lot of libraries and frameworks, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular, Vue, React and Bootstrap. And that means there are clear learning routes. For beginners, the best place to start is with HTML and CSS as they’re the basic concepts that other libraries and frameworks build on.

Although HTML and CSS are just the tip of iceberg when it comes to web development, they can still produce impressive results on their own. As Tanya says: “After the six-week course, some of the websites we’ve seen the students make could’ve been mistaken for the work of a professional.”

Of course, as with all skills, coding takes practice. So, whether you’re starting from scratch or keeping your skills sharp after a course like ours, Tanya recommends using free online resources: “There are plenty out there, like W3 Schools, YouTube, Git Repositories and Codecademy. And the best thing is, you can learn at your own pace.”

Both Tanya and Umma agreed that a structured learning plan and the opportunity to ask questions without judgement are vital to learning how to code. Tanya recommends working in a small group when learning: “We found that, when in small groups of two or three, participants were more engaged and seemed more comfortable to ask questions, which meant they got more out of the session.”

So, what now?

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a web developer, why not take part in an online course to kickstart your career? There are plenty of resources available for you to get going on your own, but a structured course can make it all more manageable.

You can now register for our free March 2022 Web Development course.

About the authors

Hannah McIntosh PA digital expert

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