The Internet might not be that old, having only been created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in the late 1980s, but we’ve come a very long way in terms of what we once had and what we expect in the modern digital age. In the early days there were, obviously, very few web pages out there and those that did exist were not that aesthetically pleasing with the black screens and green text.
By 2014, we now expect and demand sites to be clean and easy to use with a combination of text, audio, video and images; all of which require some kind of development to ensure that they fit in the perfect location on the page. Those who use the web to find and consume information, send and receive emails and occasionally update their Facebook statuses don’t appreciate the sheer amount of work required to make the world’s most popular websites into what we see on our screens, simply assuming that all websites work the same way, the only differences being the colour schemes and the topics covered.
It’s only once you actually sit down and investigate how websites work and the measures you have to take to put a simple text article onto the page that you realise how technical it is. Some are able to implement changes themselves through a course of trial and error, others employ website development services from visormedia.co.uk and other professional agencies if they have the budget or lack the expertise, but even development has come a million miles from the initial stages.
The role of a web developer has become a crucial one in all kinds of industries, but in digital agencies, obviously, it has become one of the most important. Those working in the profession are required to have skills that almost nobody else can offer with experience in performing tasks that even the bosses didn’t know were possible in order to give clients exactly what they’re looking for – often before they know it themselves! To reach this stage, it takes many hours on an almost daily basis, sitting in front of computer screens honing your skills and practicing on your own websites or even those you’re working on as a freelancer or to help a friend before a company will take a punt on you and offer you a full-time position.
The thing is, once you’re in a web development job you never stop learning. The Internet as a whole doesn’t stand still and the search engines in particular are always adapting how they rank certain sites and present them in search results and it’s often down to the web developer to ensure that the sites are optimised in the right way and, of course, that they function correctly.
It isn’t so much that the industry itself has changed since the late 80s and early 90s, but that the role continues to evolve. Functioning correctly isn’t just about ensuring the site remains online, but that it works on all kinds of different devices from desktop PCs and laptops to tablet computers and smartphones. Users want every site they visit to work at the optimum level and when it doesn’t, there’s uproar to the extent that they go to another site – often a competitor in the case of eCommerce, (online retail) – which they know works and buy from there instead which means any ‘down time’ is infuriating for site and business owners.
The company website is now arguably the most valuable asset a company has as so many people have their first interaction with a company by visiting their webpage before they go to a store or pick up the phone. If they see a poorly designed, malfunctioning website that looks as dated as 1990s television then they’re not going to be impressed. They almost want to be seeing a web page developed in 2015!
It’s all about being able to adapt, keep your cool and work out new strategies all in a short pace of time. As processor speeds increase and monitor sizes change, developers have to ensure that the sites respond accordingly and they also need to factor in how fast Internet connections are because not everybody is going to be working at superfast speeds that you would get in the major cities around the world – some will be using the web in their remote, rural properties and the sites need to work for them too.
The web itself will never sit still, it will continue to develop while we sleep at night meaning that we need to wake up each day ready for a new web development challenge. Some changes might be so small that we don’t even notice them, but the biggest challenges require highly skilled individuals to flourish which means there are always opportunities for youngsters looking to get into the world of web development, and those who have established themselves as highly skilled employees over many years. The only issue is, you snooze – you lose, because the site owners won’t let you take your time to fix any problems, their livelihoods are on the line.