The competition for web development gigs is hotter than ever, as more people learn to code and remote workers around the world fight for the same positions. With a plethora of cheap freelancers in emerging economies, you really have to justify your fees with the right set of skills and the quality to match. Standards are on the rise too, with the latest technology and design trends demanding more from everyone involved in developing of websites and applications.
Which means you need something to set you apart from the pack and stand out when it comes to sealing that new job. Here we have a list of some of the most desired skills employers and clients will look for when they hire a new web developer. If you can cross all of these off your list, you’ll be an ace in the interview room and even slicker when it comes to working with your new team.
Web designers have been told for years they need to know their code to understand how their design affect projects and ultimately the end user. The same thing goes for web developers too, because your code has a huge impact on the user experience of websites and applications – especially for mobile devices.
Just like your code affects the overall design of a website, it also plays a big role in how pages are read and ranked by search engines. Page ranking is important to your clients so it is important to you too and, with constant changes in SEO, it’s important you are up-to-date with the latest developments.
Before the design stage begins for any website, you and your team should have a list of keywords your client’s target audience will use to find their website. The more you know about the people most important to your client, the better equipped you are to develop a website to meet their needs. If you can’t get this information directly from your client, it’s handy to be able to get it yourself – and a great skill to show potential employers. Good keyword research tools include SEMRush, Spyfu, KeywordSpy, MajesticSEO (we prefer SEMRush as the best allround tool).
Even though the days of slicing PSDs are way behind us (or at least they should be) your life will be much easier if you know your way around the applications used throughout the development process. Adobe skills are something any employer will want to see on your CV and invaluable for any web project.
As the internet becomes more visual, images, video and animations are the next step in engaging content – and that means you need to optimise different media for the web and various devices. Images and video both need compressing, keyword optimisation and alt descriptions, while each type of media comes with its own challenges for mobile devices.
HTML5 has been with us for a while now and you may already feel pretty comfortable with the latest markup revision. But we’re still in a transition period and you need to be up to scratch with the latest developments, best practices, support and usage. So no matter how good you think your HTML5 skills are, there is always room to brush up on the fifth edition.
The same goes for CSS3 as well. Browser support is constantly changing, which makes new CSS3 features available for a wider range of devices and browsers. Not only that, but stylesheet masters are constantly coming up with creative solutions and new effects to enhance your web skills.
With the online world moving faster than ever you need to be up to date with the latest design trends, coding best practices, new languages and libraries; plus a range of new technology coming with wifi and data connections. The pros and cons of parallax design are already old news – what about HTML5 video backgrounds, the latest semantic markup support or the new CSS3 layout features?
Part of this includes knowing your mobile devices and operating systems inside out. When you’re developing sites or applications for mobile you need to know the potential and limitations of each device and the implications of different approaches to mobile development. Above all, you should understand what the end user needs from a mobile experience, what frustrates them and how to create an improved mobile UX.
It doesn’t end with smartphones either. We already have mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktops to optimise for, but the future is much more demanding – with screens of all sizes, wearable tech and the Internet of Things bringing the web to just about anything electronic. From watches to TV screens and interfaces in your car and household appliances, future developers will be creating for a vast range of technologies.
WordPress is still the world’s most popular CMS platform and many of your clients will benefit from a customised WordPress theme or blog page integrated into their site. Customising WordPress themes is much more secure and intuitive than it once was, thanks to “child themes” and this is another skill that both clients and employers will love.
Collaboration has become an essential skill in any digital workplace and employers will want to see evidence of your ability to work as part of a team. The other skills in this list play a vital role in creating a collaborative workflow, where many hands can turn to a variety of tasks. You don’t have to be an expert at everything, but to understand the basics in a wide range of areas will go a long way in any group project.
Clients can be hard work sometimes and whether they are your own or company clients, you need to know how to deal with them – especially the ones that are hard to please. Unhappy clients can hit you hard on social media or directory listing reviews so it’s important you can find the right balance between keeping them in line and a smile on their face.
Whether you’re a freelancer or developer looking for that perfect position, your online profile says a lot about you as a professional. Your personal website and blog is a space where you can showcase the best of your skills, discuss the latest goings-on and prove that you know your stuff. Publish content, share it on social media and network with useful contacts – get it right and your online profile will blow any CV out of the water.
Now that social media is an established marketing tool, a majority of your clients will want a variety of networks integrated into their websites somehow. Whether you use simple icon links, embed widget code or develop your own integration method, a bit of social savvy will help you get the job done. Not only that, but a strong presence on networks like LinkedIn and Google+ might just help you find the perfect position you’ve been looking for.