What is Web Development and How is It Different from Programming?

Web Development

Over the past five years, online business owners looking to update their website have often been confused by the changes in the digital marketing industry. Initially, most web agencies had referred to themselves as web design companies. Today, however, competition on the internet has grown exponentially. Agencies that once specialized in creating websites have evolved into full-service digital agencies offering multiple online supportive disciplines. Whereas previously a web designer could capably produce a simple website, sufficient for a new internet venture, today’s online enterprises require a number of different skill sets, including programmers and web developers. This level of sophistication and differentiation may cause confusion, prompting the subject of this blog, what is the difference between programmers and web developers?

Prepare to be further confused before becoming enlightened. Web developer and web programmer are terms that are often used interchangeably. That is because programming and development are related to coding. Also, web development is often differentiated as being either ‘front end’ (client side- the website that is visible to visitors) or ‘back end’ (the server side). Web programmers commonly specialize in one end or the other. Web developers write site pages using HTML and CSS. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) gives site content structure and meaning as it defines copy into headings, paragraphs, or images. Web developers can also implement Content Management Systems (CMS) to facilitate site updates that do not require programming (i.e. text and image changes), and can therefore be performed by non-professionals. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), is a presentation language created to format the way content appears by introducing colors, or different fonts/typefaces. Neither HTML nor CSS, however, are programming languages. (We promised more confusion!)

What Do Web Programmers Do?

The web programming function is different from that of the web developer and requires a knowledge of numerous programming languages. Their role differs from that of a web developer as they handle the technical aspects of website functionality. For example, an eCommerce site will likely require the ability to process orders, or to perform credit card transactions. Web programmers are translators, using their knowledge of specific programming languages to draft the coding and markup required so site users can seamlessly execute these tasks.

Programmers work with an array of languages including, JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, C++, and C among others. Each offers different traits that are most useful to produce exactly the features desired in a scalable website that online business owners need to keep pace with their growing enterprises. These programming languages include their compatibility with the selected platform, should match the domain, and must be efficient (perform its function quickly).

Another desirable feature is the language’s flexibility that will allow additional programs and features to be added in future. Library access is also highly desirable to solve any problem that arises during the site’s construction. Additional attributes in a programming language include its adaptability to the size of the project, and how long it will take to produce needed programs or codes. Fully understanding a language’s tool support functionality is very important as it will offer elements that allow programmers to edit, control, and work efficiently to adhere to project timelines.

A seasoned web programmer will have an extensive knowledge of a range of programming languages as well as how their individual attributes can be used. He/she can utilize them to make a site work the way its owner intends as well as to intervene quickly to troubleshoot and resolve any functionality problems that arise during the build and long after. However, few businesses will have these capabilities and resources in-house. Active Web Group, a leading Digital Agency, maintains a staff of seasoned and highly capable Web Programmers and Web Developers. Our team draws on their expertise to create websites that not only enhance the user’s experience but also expand your bottom line. For more information, we invite you to contact our team at (800) 978-3417.