Startup Resources
March 7, 2014 by Yoshitaka Shiotsu

If you’re looking to build a website—whether you’re considering doing it yourself or hiring a web developer to do it for you—you’ve likely heard the term ‘web development’ come up very frequently. Familiarity with the concept is fine, but if you’re serious about learning how to develop a website, you should have a solid understanding of the term. So for our first post in the Web Development 101 series, we’ll start at the beginning—what is web development, anyway?

What is Web Development?

Web development is the process of developing websites or webpages hosted on the Internet or intranet. Think about your favorite website; whether it’s an e-commerce store, blog, social network, online video streaming service, or any other type of Internet application, it all had to be built by a web developer.

But what does that look like? The web development process can be divided into three main components: server-side coding, client-side coding and database technology.

Client-Side Coding

When you are viewing or using a website, you are known as a ‘user’ or a ‘client.’ So web applications or computer programs executed by a user’s web browser are referred to as client-side scripts. That means the program requests any files it needs to run from the web server, and then runs within the client’s web browser.

This allows a webpage to have unique and alternating content depending on a user’s input or other variables. Ajax, Flash, JavaScript, jQuery, Microsoft Silverlight, HTML5, and CSS3 are some examples of popular languages, plugins and libraries used in client-side scripting.

Server-Side Coding

In contrast to client-side scripts, server-side scripts are executed on the web server whenever a user requests a document or service. The server then produces the document, usually in the form of HTML, which can be read by the client’s browser.

The document sent to the browser may often contain client-side scripts. ASP.NET, PHP, Java, ColdFusion, Perl, Python, and Ruby are examples of languages used for server-side coding.

Database Technology

For any website to function on the Internet, it must be hosted within a database on a webserver. The database contains all the files required for a website and its applications to function. Websites typically use some form of a relational database management system (RDBMS); the leading RDBMS options are Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Apache, and IBM. Open-source RDBMS are also very popular, led by MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB.

And that’s it! You now have a solid understanding of the basics of web development. Next up in the Web Development 101 series, we’ll answer the logical follow-up question: what is a web developer?

Any web development topics you’d like to learn about? Let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll make sure to address them!  

Yoshitaka Shiotsu

Writer and SEO Consultant

Yoshitaka Shiotsu is a freelance writer and SEO consultant on oDesk. He specializes in SEO writing, Internet marketing and creating quality content for the web. Shiotsu has provided content on a variety of topics including science, technology, travel, fashion and the food and beverage industry. He brings the researching prowess, intelligence and diligence of a chemical engineer together with the mindset of an internet marketer and salesperson. Shiotsu graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is currently in the process of co-founding a materials-startup based in Gloucester, MA.