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