10 Things Every Good Web Developer Should Know

Here’s a checklist of 10 skills that are some of the most important for good web developers to have.

1. Regular expressions

Regular expressions are used to parse strings, basically to find and replace bits of text. While this may seem trivial, the versatility of regex makes it quite powerful. There are a wide variety of methods for optimizing a regex string, which can mean huge performance differences for your app.

Regular expressions can be used with just about any language, they work great with Javascript’s replace() and PHP’s preg_replace() to name a few. They are also great for Apache rewrites.

2. Basic SEO

A knowledge of basic SEO is essential for any good web developer. While you can leave keyword research to your clients, a developer should have sound strategies for targeting those keywords on the page. This means clean markup and good use of <title>, <meta>, <h1> and <h2> tags on the front-end, as well as solid link and directory structure organization on the back-end.
The best resources I’ve found for learning SEO are the Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Ranking Factors v2, both from SEOmoz.

3. A good Javascript library

Even if you don’t write much Javascript, knowing a good Javascript language can make that little bit so much easier. Whether it’s jQuery (my personal favorite), Mootools, or whatever, learning a Javascript library will cut your Javascript dev time in half. First, these libraries take the cross-browser guess-work out of Javascript programming so you can stop feature checking and start animating. Additionally, they provide a ton of easy animation options and make selecting nodes in the DOM a piece of cake.

More adventurous Javascripters might even want to tackle a Javascript UI language. There are plugins for the libraries above, but I’d recommend Dojo with Dijit.

4. Cross-browser debugging

In order to reach as many viewers as possible, your websites need to work in all the major browsers (IE6, IE7, IE8, FF2, FF3, Safari 4, Opera 9). Everyone hates cross-browser debugging, but the better you get the less you’ll have to do it.

5. Image processing and optimization

Although most developers rely on professional designers for design assets, it is just as important for devs to know their way around Photoshop. A strong knowledge of image processing not only allows you to make quick changes to comps without bouncing them back to the designer, it also helps you to understand what is possible when asking for design changes.

One Photoshop skill that is particularly important for webdevs is image optimization. Image file sizes are probably the largest threat to bandwidth and optimizing images can make or break a site’s load time. Photoshop and Illustrator’s “Save for Web” option makes image optimization a lot easier: simply press Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S on PC or Command-Alt-Shift-S on Mac to access this wizard.

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One Response

  1. very useful information

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