What I usually tell people when they ask what I do for a living is simply this: “I’m a web developer,” but more often than not I get a round of follow up questions.
According to Wikipedia, a web developer is
a programmer who specializes in, or is specifically engaged in, the development of World Wide Web applications, or distributed network applications that are run over HTTP from a web server to a web browser.
Okay… so what does that mean I do? The short answer is that I build websites of all different kinds, but there are many different ways I accomplish this.
The most basic of iterations is the static website. A static website is a website in which the pages are served exactly as they are stored. This means that a web developer created a file that does not gather content from other resources, such as a database, but rather serves the content it was created with. It is rare today to see a full static website, as today most sites use a combination of dynamic and static pages to host their content.
Dynamic websites usually gather their content from a number of sources, usually a MySQL database, to display to the end-user. A great example of a dynamic website that is always changing based on user-generated content is Facebook. Users enter content in a variety of different ways, and content is stored across multiple servers, ready to be called when needed. A great benefit of dynamic websites is that if you want the same content on multiple pages, you don’t have to enter it multiple times.
The most common way a dynamic website is published is through the use of a Content Management System or CMS. While all content management systems are different, they all serve one distinct purpose: to present information on websites. There are many popular content management systems out there, but probably the most popular one to date, and the one I’m using for this site, is WordPress. Now, while WordPress may serve the needs of many of those looking to build their own first-time websites, many fail to realize that it is still a complicated process to get your website looking and behaving the way you’d like it to.
Getting a website to behave and look exactly as you imagine isn’t something you can handle on your own without the right knowledge and resources, which can be said about many things. You can imagine building a website like building a car or a computer. It really is that complicated from start to finish. From server security to changing a link color all fall under the job description web developer, and that’s what I am.