What is Web Development


The term Web Development has several interpretations depending on whose company you are in. In a general sense it represents any activity related to developing a web site for the internet, world wide web, or a intranet. More specifically you might say that it involves any work involved in developing applications that communicate over some form of network and that may be accesses by some client device ie. a web browser, mobile device browser etc. This work involves web design, content management, client-server communication, hardware and software configuration, database management.

Among professionals however, the term is generally taken to mean the non-design aspects of the work ie. writing the code that displays the site and any scripting and/or programming work that may power enterprise-level applications and services. In large businesses and organizations, the web development team may consist of hundreds of people and is most usually a collaborative effort between departments rather than the domain of a designated department. For enterprise-level application development there is usually at minimum:

  • A web designer
  • A web developer
  • Database administrator
  • Hosting/network support technician

Very often there is a cross-over in the skill set and in smaller companies one person might perform all these tasks to some degree. The web development industry has been one of the fastest growing industries of the past decade as companies have begun to appreciate the advantages the world wide web can offer, such as: reaching a larger audience, automating business processes, promoting/developing awareness of their brand and services. In the US alone there are over 30,000 companies actively involved in some part of the web development industry. The growth in the industry has also been fueled by several other factors:

  • reduction in costs of web hosting and related services and an increase in the number of companies offering these services
  • increase in the number of people skilled in web development related technologies
  • improvements in tools and services that help automate the process of development. For example, the development of blogging tools such as WordPress has practically exploded the amount of information individuals are adding to the world wide web due to the ease with which they can create and update a blogging site

Web Developments skills can generally be broken down into the following sets of skills/technolgies. NOTE: these lists are not at all exhaustive but include some of the most common technologies. Client-side:

  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • Ajax, JSON
  • Flash, Flex, ActionScript
  • Microsoft Silverlight

Server-side Programming Technologies and Frameworks:

  • ASP
  • PHP
  • Coldfusion
  • CGI/Perl
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Groovy
  • JSP, Java, J2EE
  • .NET
  • Lotus Domino
  • Struts
  • Spring
  • WebSphere
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Maven
  • Ant
  • Cocoon

Database Technologies

  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • SQL Server
  • Derby
  • DB2
  • PostgresSQL


In addition to the plethora of technologies listed above there are the less tangible components to web development which generally relate to the management of projects:

  • agile methodologies A relatively recent addition to development practises this is an approach to development which is done in regular cycles, or ‘sprints’. The idea being that the development life-cycle can respond quicker to the ever-changing requirements of the project imposed by the business eg. Scrum
  • Unified Modeling Language (UML) A notation or modelling-language for describing software systems
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