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Web development isn’t a static profession, but one that’s constantly shifting alongside digital advancements. Job titles coincide with experience and technical ability, which is why a junior web developer is a position offered to those with little knowledge and work experience. While junior web developers aren’t expected to grasp advanced languages, lead a team or create expansive program architecture, employers often require a baseline understanding of specific languages, tools and concepts.

Junior, Middle and Senior Web Dev Roles

Before tackling the topics junior web developers must know, it’s vital to understand the different positions typical in web development teams. As mentioned above, each role describes the working knowledge and experience of a developer. Web development positions are based on job experience and technical proficiency. Junior developers, as its name suggests, are the least experienced in a development team. They are heavily mentored and guided throughout all job tasks, which offers invaluable exposure to the real world of web development.

Middle web developers have job experience and a solid understanding of major languages and tools. Unlike junior developers, this position is far more independent. They can produce results for most tasks without assistance and are often charged with vital responsibilities, such as debugging an app element. While the requirements for middle web developers widely vary, most employers require a specific number of years as a developer, along with demonstrated proficiency in one or multiple coding languages.

Senior web developers are professionals with years of experience and advanced understanding of languages, tools and other job tasks. While more knowledgable than the previously mentioned roles, senior web developers aren’t without limitations. Generally, these professionals oversee the mentoring and work quality of junior and middle developers. Senior roles rarely have final say in programming architecture and design, but they do play a vital role in framework decisions and visual flow. Technology expert, Sijin Joseph, created the Programmer Competency Matrix in 2012, which is viewed as a valuable resource for measuring web developer knowledge.

Pair Programming

Mention web development to those unfamiliar with this job and most imagine a recluse staring blankly at a growing document filled with strings of strangely formatted text. The myth that programmers are tech hermits is just as wrong as it is pervasive. While independent working is common in this profession, the life of a junior web developer is far from isolated.

One of the greatest skills expected of a junior web developer is pair programming. Much like its name suggests, this is when two developers work together on the same task. The goal is to minimize development and testing time without sacrificing quality. The International Journal of Human-Computer Studies published Pair Programming Productivity: Novice-novice vs. expert-expert to assess whether pair programming benefits novice and expert developers. Interestingly, when two novice developers are paired together, they’re more productive and capable than two experts paired together.

Pair programming is an overarching skill requirement for all junior web developers. The standard protocol has one programmer who writes the code, while a second programmer reviews the code as it’s being written. The goal is to refine, troubleshoot and produce quality code faster than solo programming by identifying errors and implementing fixes as the code is written. Because of advancements in telecommunications, pair programming is done either in-person or via a virtual workspace.

Understanding Frameworks

Web development continues to evolve faster than ever before, which means aspiring developers face a mountain of training. Instead of attempting the impossible and learning all languages at one time, pace yourself. Because web development houses many specializations, it’s possible to find yourself in a completely different niche than originally anticipated. While you aren’t expected to perform complex tasks with the latest coding language, junior web developers should have a solid understanding of the essentials.

Of course, HTML and CSS are fundamental for web developers, but they aren’t the only big players in this game. Understanding frameworks is paramount for junior web developers. In short, a framework, such as CSS or Javascript frameworks, are pre-written documents designed for specific tasks. Frameworks assist developers as they provide a rough outline that can be used solo or combined with other frameworks to create a functional program.

Frameworks are the scaffolding developers use to create complex program architecture.

Generally, junior web developers begin by problem-solving small issues. Familiarity with frameworks assists in not only understanding the general flow of code but understanding how to edit and troubleshoot errors. Because this position often works with CSS and Javascript code, knowledge of how these frameworks are used and how each can be manipulated is critical for this position.

Testing and Debugging Code

The soul of many junior web development jobs involve testing and debugging existing code. Our current digital life is backed by complex programming, which is bound to catch a bug or two. Testing and debugging is done at every stage of the development process, and is regularly performed as new sections of code are written. While the goal of testing is universal, which is to eliminate errors, not all tests are performed the same. For example, functional testing focuses on a specific program function, such as an input form, and executes a variety of tests to ensure it functions properly in a variety of scenarios.

Across web development forums, countless threads discuss the pros and cons of testing, specifically unit testing. In fact, even Microsoft states in MSDN Magazine that unit testing is only viable if developers understand what they need to test. Regardless, testing and debugging are part of daily life as a junior web developer. Understanding what to test is as important as knowing how to test.

Trying to understand what you need to know as a junior web developer may seem overwhelming. From mastering frameworks to refining your approach to pair programming, there’s nothing junior about this position. While difficult, by growing your knowledge in the aforementioned topics, you’ll walk into the office capable of being a helpful part of the entire development team.

Related Resources:

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What is a Typical Starting Salary for a Programmer?

What is the Hardest Thing about Being a Computer Programmer?