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Web developer skills for 2023: The ultimate guide

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

There used to be a time when HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge would get you a great web developer job. You would join the job, learn a framework, and that would be that.


It’s 2023 and things have changed. Web developer skills are no longer limited to HTML, CSS, and JS. You need to know much more if you want to land a high-paying remote web developer job today.


That’s what this blog is about. It’s a comprehensive list of the skills you need to become a web developer in 2023. Simple Job Listings is a job board and as a result, this guide has been created after talking to companies that are hiring web developers right now.


So, let’s get started.

Web developer skills for 2023

Web Developer Skills for 2023


HTML, CSS, JS — the fundamentals

Despite the fast-paced evolution of web development technologies, the bedrock of web development—HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—remains largely unchanged.


These languages form the fundamental trinity of skills that every competent web developer must command.


Their ubiquity and enduring relevance stem from the fundamental roles they play in structuring, styling, and adding interactivity to web content.


HTML:

HyperText Markup Language, better known as HTML, is the cornerstone of any web page. As a developer, you'll utilize HTML to create and organize your website's content.


As every developer and their friend will be eager to tell you, HTML isn’t a programming language. It’s a markup language. What this means is that HTML sets the structure of the page and tells the browser what content to show and how to show it.


This includes everything from headers and paragraph text to images, video content, and links to other pages.


As a web dev in 2023, HTML 5 is where you should be concentrating the most.


It offers a host of enhanced features like semantic elements, form controls, multimedia elements, and graphics, enabling developers to create more engaging and efficient web applications. No matter how advanced your skills are, a deep understanding of HTML5 is invaluable in crafting well-structured, accessible, and SEO-friendly web pages.


CSS:

Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, brings your web pages to life by providing style. It controls how HTML elements are displayed on the screen, in terms of layout, colors, fonts, and transitions, among other things. Understanding CSS is crucial for creating aesthetically pleasing designs and ensuring your website's consistency across different devices and screen sizes.


These days, you should know more than just basic CSS.


Understanding methodologies like BEM, CSS Grid, Flexbox, or utility-first CSS frameworks (like Tailwind CSS) can greatly enhance your efficiency and the maintainability of your codebase. These are skills that companies are looking for in 2023.


JavaScript:

JavaScript gives life to your web pages. It's the scripting language that makes your web page interactive, controlling behaviors and enabling complex features such as dynamic content updates, interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, and scrolling video jukeboxes.


In 2023, having a firm grasp of ES6 (ECMAScript 2015) and newer specifications of JavaScript is vital.


Features like classes, arrow functions, promises, async/await, and modules, have been key enhancements in JavaScript in recent years.


They provide syntactic sugar and other improvements that make JavaScript more powerful and easier to work with. It's also essential to understand the Document Object Model (DOM) and be proficient in manipulating it.


The continued relevance of HTML, CSS, and JS:

Regardless of the layers of abstraction introduced by various tools and frameworks, all web browsers ultimately interpret HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Moreover, these foundations allow you to deeply understand and appreciate the problems that newer technologies are designed to solve. They offer the ability to debug at a lower level and provide the confidence to pick up and adapt to any new technology quickly.


JavaScript frameworks and libraries:

A thorough understanding of JavaScript is essential, but to truly thrive in the web development landscape, mastering the advanced JavaScript frameworks and libraries that dominate the industry is non-negotiable.


We’ll look at front end frameworks to begin with.


These frameworks and libraries encapsulate best practices, reduce code complexity, and enable the creation of complex, scalable web applications. Some of the most in-demand of these are React, Angular, and Vue.js.


React

Facebook's React is a JavaScript library renowned for its versatility and efficiency. It's used for building user interfaces, particularly for single-page applications where you need a fast, interactive UI with a consistent look and feel.


React enables developers to create large web applications that can change data without reloading the page.


React's distinctive feature is its component-based architecture. Components are reusable and can manage their own state, leading to code that is easier to maintain and reason about.


The introduction of Hooks in React 16.8 extended this functionality, allowing developers to use state and other features in functional components without needing to write a class.


Understanding the nuances of React's concurrent mode, suspense, and server components can give you a distinct edge. Concurrent Mode enables a more responsive UI by rendering updates at a prioritized level, while Suspense allows developers to elegantly handle asynchronous operations.


Server Components, Automatic Batching, Transitions, and Suspense on the server are some of the more recent developments in React. Knowing and understanding these features will give you an edge.


Angular

Angular, by Google, is a full-fledged MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework popular for building large-scale applications.


Unlike React, Angular is a complete solution, providing robust templates, dependency injection, end-to-end tooling, and integrated best practices that solve many development challenges out of the box.


Angular introduces the concept of directives, allowing developers to assign special behaviors to the DOM, enhancing its capabilities. It also uses TypeScript, a statically-typed superset of JavaScript that provides optional type-checking and brings object-oriented constructs to JavaScript.


Vue.js

Vue.js, the progressive JavaScript framework, is known for its adaptability and simplicity while offering functionality akin to Angular and React.


Vue allows you to adopt its libraries incrementally, meaning you can introduce Vue to an existing project and use as little or as much as required.


Vue's single file components, where HTML, CSS, and JavaScript exist in the same file, offer a unique development experience. It also brings a balance between declarative and imperative programming paradigms, which can make it more approachable for developers new to modern JavaScript frameworks.


Vue 3's Composition API, a set of additive, function-based APIs, offers better logic reuse and organization in your components.


Additionally, Vue's growing ecosystem, including tools like Vuex for state management and Vue Router for routing, makes it a formidable player in the landscape of advanced JavaScript frameworks.


If you’re looking for a web development job, you should be great at one of these frameworks, at the very least. This is going to be a core section in your developer resume.



Backend Development Skills

A compelling web application isn't merely about an interactive interface; it's also about a robust and reliable backend that effectively manages data, ensures application security, and communicates efficiently with the frontend.

Node.js

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, allowing developers to use JavaScript for server-side scripting.


Its non-blocking, event-driven architecture is ideal for building scalable network applications. Node.js has gained immense popularity thanks to the ubiquitous nature of JavaScript and the rise of full-stack JavaScript development.


Obviously, understanding Node.js isn't merely about knowing the syntax. It's about grasping its asynchronous nature, the event loop, and how to effectively handle errors and exceptions. It's about mastering the rich ecosystem of npm (Node Package Manager), writing performant code, and understanding the ins and outs of Express.js, the most popular web application framework for Node.js.


Python

Python, with its emphasis on code readability and simplicity, has long been a popular choice for backend development. Its wide range of applications, from web and software development to AI, machine learning, and scientific computing, makes it an invaluable skill in 2023.


Django and Flask are two of Python's most popular frameworks for web development.


Django is a high-level framework that encourages rapid development and clean design, while Flask is a microframework that gives you flexibility and fine control.


Mastery of Python in 2023 requires not only an understanding of these frameworks but also knowledge of Python's advanced features and its associated packages for database access, scientific computing, and data analysis.


Java

Java, an object-oriented language designed for minimal implementation dependencies, continues to be a significant player in the backend development space. Its robust, platform-independent, and secure nature makes it the language of choice for large-scale enterprise applications.


In the context of web development, Java's Spring Framework is the standard.


Understanding Spring's core principles, such as Dependency Injection and Aspect-Oriented Programming, alongside mastering Spring Boot, which simplifies setting up and running Spring applications, is essential for a backend Java developer.


Modern Backend Technologies: Deno and Go

While Node.js, Python, and Java continue to be relevant, exploring modern backend technologies can set you apart as a web developer in 2023. Deno and Go are two such technologies.


Deno, created by Node.js's original developer, is a secure runtime for JavaScript and TypeScript. It aims to address Node.js's shortcomings. Deno includes a built-in package manager, supports TypeScript out of the box, and operates on a security-first basis. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Deno is relatively new, but its adoption might significantly rise by 2023.


Go, created at Google, is a statically typed, compiled language known for its simplicity and efficiency. Go's excellent support for concurrent programming, efficient garbage collection, and fast execution make it a solid choice for developing high-performance backend systems. Understanding Go's syntax, concurrency model, and interfaces can provide a competitive edge.



Microservices and API Development

In the architecture of modern web applications, the role of microservices and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) has become increasingly significant.


In the past, monolithic structures were common, where all the application logic was bundled into one unit. However, the complexity and scalability issues associated with such structures led to the emergence of microservices.


Additionally, the development and integration of APIs, particularly RESTful APIs, and GraphQL, have become an integral part of web development in 2023.


The Role of Microservices in Modern Web Development

Microservices, also known as the microservices architecture, is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled services. In a microservices architecture, services are fine-grained, and protocols are lightweight.


The microservices architecture enables the continuous delivery and deployment of large, complex applications.


It also enables an organization to evolve its technology stack by enabling different services to be written in different programming languages, and they can also be managed by different teams.


Knowledge of Docker and Kubernetes, two crucial tools used to containerize and orchestrate microservices, is paramount.


Mastering RESTful API Development

Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs have been the cornerstone of web services for many years. REST is an architectural style for distributed hypermedia systems, using a stateless, client-server communication model.


A key understanding of HTTP methods, status codes, request-response models, and data serialization formats like JSON and XML is crucial to building efficient REST APIs.


Introduction to GraphQL and Why It’s Gaining Popularity

GraphQL is a query language for APIs and a runtime for executing those queries with your existing data. It's gaining immense popularity for several reasons.


Unlike REST APIs, where you have to make several round trips to different endpoints to fetch related data, GraphQL APIs get all the data your app needs in a single request.


Apps using GraphQL can be quick even on slow mobile network connections. Also, GraphQL gives the client control over the data they get, not the server. Clients describe their data requirements, and the server responds with precisely what the client asked for, no more and no less.


GraphQL also enables you to aggregate data from different sources, making it an excellent fit for a microservices architecture where you may need to fetch data from various services. Mastering GraphQL involves understanding its schema language, knowing how to write efficient queries and mutations, and handling errors and security.


Mobile-First and Responsive Web Design

A mobile-first approach is exactly what it sounds like — designing for the smallest screen and working your way up.


It is one of the best strategies to create responsive designs. This approach is of paramount importance in 2023, as a significant part of the world's web traffic now comes from mobile devices.


Mobile-first design focuses on delivering the core content and functionality right away, reducing the need for unnecessary loading of assets that might slow down the experience.


It's about understanding the constraints of mobile (like screen size and data usage) and using them as a starting point for the overall design.


Understanding this approach is essential as it allows for websites and applications to be built in a way that maximizes accessibility, user experience, and performance.


Tools and Techniques for Effective Responsive Design

Fluid Grids and Media Queries:

CSS3 introduced fluid grids and media queries, which are fundamental to responsive design. Fluid grids allow for flexible layout design that can adapt to the screen's width, while media queries enable different CSS rules to be applied based on the device's characteristics.


Flexible Images and Media:

Images and other media content should resize based on the screen's size. This might involve setting max-width for images, using CSS to control media size, or even leveraging newer image formats like WebP for superior compression and quality.


Mobile-Friendly Libraries and Frameworks:

There are numerous libraries and frameworks designed to simplify the process of creating responsive designs. For instance, Bootstrap, a popular CSS framework, includes a responsive grid system and pre-defined classes that make building responsive sites easier.


Progressive Web Apps (PWAs):

PWAs bring a mobile-app-like experience to users right in their browsers. They're fast, reliable, and can even work offline, thanks to service workers. Understanding the principles of PWAs, including the use of the Web App Manifest and Service Workers, is important in 2023.


Performance Optimization:

Finally, optimizing performance is crucial for mobile devices, where network conditions may be less reliable. Techniques such as code minification, lazy loading of assets, and efficient API usage can significantly enhance the mobile user experience.


Web Performance Optimization Skills

Performance optimization is the process of making your website faster by reducing file sizes, improving server response times, and implementing various other speed-enhancing strategies. This process significantly affects user engagement and satisfaction.


Users are increasingly impatient with slow-loading websites. Studies show that a delay of even a second can lead to fewer page views, loss in conversions, and decrease in customer satisfaction.


What’s more, search engines like Google use page load time as a ranking factor, implying slower websites are less likely to appear at the top of search results.


In essence, every single millisecond matters.


Optimization skills for web developers:

Efficient Use of Assets:

This involves minifying and compressing CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files to reduce their size. You should also leverage efficient image formats (like WebP or AVIF), use SVGs for simple images and logos, and implement lazy loading for offscreen assets.


Effective Caching Strategies:

Caching can dramatically improve performance by storing a version of your site's files in the user's browser or on a content delivery network (CDN). This method reduces the need to fetch the same data repeatedly. Understanding HTTP caching headers and service workers for caching strategies is crucial.


Server Optimization:

Techniques such as enabling compression, optimizing database queries, reducing HTTP requests, and using a CDN to deliver resources faster to users worldwide all play a part in server optimization.


Code Optimization:

Write clean, efficient code. Remove any unused CSS or JavaScript, and use CSS more than JavaScript when possible (as it's generally faster). Implement asynchronous loading for CSS and JavaScript to avoid render-blocking.


Use of Performance Monitoring Tools:

Tools like Google Lighthouse, WebPageTest, and SpeedCurve can provide invaluable insights into your site's performance and areas that need improvement.


Web Assembly (Wasm):

Web Assembly is a binary instruction format that acts as a compiler target, allowing high-performance applications on web pages. As we move towards complex web applications, the adoption of Wasm might be a game-changer in web performance optimization.



Understanding and Implementing Web Security

The importance of web security isn’t lost on anyone.


Data breaches can result in severe financial and reputational losses. Moreover, they may lead to legal consequences if personally identifiable information (PII) gets exposed.


Here are a few skills that you should know as a web developer:

  • HTTPS and SSL/TLS: Implementing Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption is a must for any website that handles sensitive data. It ensures data transferred between the user's browser and your site is encrypted and secure.

  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Protection: Understanding how to prevent XSS and CSRF attacks is essential. It involves validating and sanitizing input data, implementing Content Security Policy (CSP), and using SameSite cookie attribute, among others.

  • SQL Injection Prevention: This attack can manipulate your database and expose sensitive data. Use parameterized queries or prepared statements to avoid it.

  • Clickjacking Protection: Implement X-Frame-Options and CSP to protect your users from clickjacking attacks.

  • Password Security: Store passwords securely using strong, one-way cryptographic hashing functions like bcrypt. Implement secure password reset processes, and consider two-factor authentication (2FA) for additional security.

  • Security Headers: Utilizing HTTP headers like Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS), X-Content-Type-Options, and X-XSS-Protection can help enhance the security of your web application.

  • Understanding GDPR and Other Privacy Regulations: As a web developer, understanding laws and regulations like GDPR, CCPA, etc., is crucial to ensure your website is legally compliant.

  • Continuous Monitoring and Regular Updates: Keep all software and dependencies up-to-date to ensure any known security vulnerabilities are patched. Monitor your site regularly for any suspicious activity.

  • Use of Web Application Firewalls (WAFs): WAFs can identify and block many types of attacks before they reach your application.


Mastery of Version Control/Git

Version control systems allow multiple developers to work on a single project simultaneously without overwriting each other's changes.


They keep a history of all modifications to the code, enabling developers to revert to a previous version if something goes wrong. They also assist in resolving conflicts when different developers modify the same piece of code.


Git, in particular, is widely used due to its distributed nature, which allows every developer to have a complete copy of the project history on their local machine. This feature makes Git resilient to network failures and allows developers to work offline.


And it’s no good if you just know `git add` and `git push`.


Here are a few git concepts you need to understand thoroughly:

  • Branching and Merging: Using branches can keep your work organized and isolated until it's ready to be merged into the main codebase.

  • Rebasing: Rebasing can help maintain a clean, linear project history, but it's a complex operation that should be handled carefully.

  • Stashing: This command is useful when you need to switch contexts but aren't ready to commit your changes.

  • Cherry Picking: This process allows you to apply changes from specific commits without merging an entire branch.

  • Interactive Rebase: An advanced form of rebasing that offers more control over the commit history.

  • Using the Reflog: The reflog records every change made to the local repository's HEAD. It's a safety net that can help recover lost commits.


Test-Driven Development (TDD)

Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an essential software development practice adopted by modern web developers across the globe. At its core, TDD involves a repetitious cycle of writing tests, coding, and then refactoring.


TDD commences with writing a failing test to define a desired function or improvement. The next step is to produce the minimum amount of code to pass that test. Finally, the new code is refactored to acceptable standards


Here are a few popular tools you should be familiar with:

  • Jest: This JavaScript testing framework is known for its simplicity and ease of setup. It offers features such as a zero-configuration testing experience, consistent results, and a powerful mocking library, making it a popular choice among web developers.

  • Mocha: Mocha is another JavaScript test framework that runs on Node.js. It provides developers with the flexibility to choose their assertion libraries such as Chai and Sinon. Mocha's flexibility, coupled with its intuitive use of describe() and it() blocks for organizing tests, makes it a preferred tool.

  • Jasmine: Used for behavior-driven development, Jasmine does not rely on any other JavaScript framework or a Document Object Model. It has an easy-to-read syntax, making it highly user-friendly.

  • JUnit: This unit testing framework is a boon for Java developers and is often paired with Selenium for web application testing.

Containerization and Virtualization — extra

Containerization and virtualization are what you’d call adjacent skills. In order to become a web developer, you don’t really need to know these. But having an understanding or familiarity helps.


Containerization, powered by technologies like Docker, allows developers to package an application along with its libraries, dependencies, and other required runtime components in a single unit. This container ensures that the application will run identically in any environment, whether it's a developer's local machine or a production server.


Virtualization, on the other hand, is the technology that abstracts hardware and allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical machine. This is immensely beneficial in maximizing hardware utilization, isolation, and scalability.


Docker

Docker is the de facto standard for containerization, transforming the software delivery process with its ability to 'build once, run anywhere'. Docker's simplicity, extensive tooling, and large community support make it indispensable in modern web development.


Kubernetes

Kubernetes, another pivotal tool in this domain, is a container orchestration platform. While Docker provides the runtime environment for containers, Kubernetes manages clusters of containers, handling scaling, failover, deployment patterns, and more, effectively automating many operational aspects of running a web application at scale.


Serverless Architectures — extra

Again, this isn’t something you need to be amazing at, but if you have a degree of familiarity, it’ll give you a huge boost.


Serverless architecture, a breakthrough in cloud computing, is a software design pattern where applications are hosted by third-party service providers who manage server-side logic and state.


A few popular platforms:

  • AWS Lambda: A pioneer in serverless computing, Lambda seamlessly runs your code without requiring you to manage servers, only charging for the compute time consumed.

  • Google Cloud Functions: This serverless execution environment enables you to build and connect cloud services through code.

  • Azure Functions: Microsoft's entry into the serverless space allows developers to run small pieces of code (functions) in the cloud.

  • Vercel: Known for its frontend focus, Vercel offers a great platform for deploying serverless functions alongside static websites.

  • Netlify Functions: A platform that extends the functionality of Netlify's hosting service, enabling the deployment of serverless Lambda functions without an AWS account.

Conclusion

Web development isn’t just about creating static websites that show information anymore. They’re so much more than that. We read, watch, learn, and transact through websites and modern web developers should have the skills for it.


What’s more, web developer skills aren’t static, either. There’s always a new language, or a framework, or a piece of tech to learn. This means that you should constantly be upskilling yourself.


This isn’t to say that becoming a web developer is impossible, though. If you get the basics right and keep yourself updated, there’s a ton of money to be made.


And if you’re looking for some high-paying web development jobs, check out Simple Job Listings. All jobs on Simple Job Listings are remote, most pay amazingly well, and a significant number of jobs that we post aren’t listed anywhere else.


Visit Simple Job Listings and find your dream remote web developer job today. Good luck!


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