What the flip is web development?

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October 18, 2023
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7 minutes

Building the web

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘development’? It's got a huge range of definitions… you can develop a headache from reading too many boring blog articles. Elon Musk can donate a bunch of Starlink receivers to a developing country. A land developer destroys all the trees and animals to build a block of holiday apartments, so rich web studio owners can enjoy their ocean views while sipping margaritas for six months of the year (lol just kidding, we’re poor as).

The development we are talking about here is similar to land development (without the destruction of the koalas and their habitat). Instead of land, we are talking about the web and instead of building apartments we are building websites.

To put it simply: web development is building websites.

(Web development also covers the building of web apps and backend development, but for simplicity purposes we are going to keep it focused on front end development of websites)

Website building blocks  

Just like a building is made up of concrete, bricks and timber, websites are built using code to form a structure. The structure is made up of various programming languages. Let's have a look at the main building materials of a website. They are:

  • HTML (Hypertext markup language)
  • CSS (Cascading style sheets) 
  • Java Script

These three elements are very different, but all come together to form a complete website. Let's explore each one to see what part they play.


HTML is the standard language used for creating websites. Its purpose is to describe the structure of the website. It tells the web browser what to display and where to display it. Think of this like the concrete and the bricks of a building.


CSS is a language that specifies what the HTML elements should look like on the web browser. A builder wouldn't write on the back of each individual brick that it needs to be painted white. They would specify that the entire wall is to be painted white. Likewise, CSS creates a quick way to style the website, without having to style each individual element.


JavaScript is the code that turns a static site into a dynamic and interactive one. It works with the HTML and CSS to jazz things up a little. 

Buildings have swinging doors, opening windows, lights and running water; they are non-static parts that make for a comfortable and usable space. On a website, JavaScript is responsible for animations, clickable buttons, changeable highlights and so on. When that menu bar slides out, that's JavaScript telling a styled HTML element to do that.

HTML, CSS and JavaScript are like the concrete, bricks and timber of a website.

The Builder

When we bring those three programming languages together, we have what we need for a functioning website. It’s not all that's needed though. Like with the construction of a building, in building websites there is a series of steps that must be followed to end up with a finished product. The steps are:

  • Planning
  • Construction Phase 
  • Handover and Maintenance 

All construction starts with planning. This important step is carried out by a web designer, who will provide the developer with plans detailing what the website will look like, and how it will work.

The construction phase is where the developer uses various tools to piece together the HTML, CSS and JavaScript to work and interact, creating the design and layout that was provided by the web designer. They also make it responsive so it works on many different device sizes. This involves lots of testing to ensure the website looks and functions as planned.

At handover the website is deployed to a web server making it available on the internet. Web development doesn't stop here; to stay relevant and up to date with the fast-changing digital landscape, an analysis of how people use the website allows for improvements. Content is also updated over time, to stay relevant for search engines. At this point, someone experienced in marketing or search engine optimisation (SEO) would assist the developer, to guide them through these needed changes and updates to the website. 

The web development process is very much like the process of constructing buildings. Using various materials, tools, a design and plan. A web developer skillfully puts all of those things together to build a website.

In conclusion

Web development is building websites, much like constructing a building, but without harming our furry friends in the process. It involves using three key building blocks: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, each serving a unique purpose in shaping the structure and style of a website. Just as a builder follows a series of steps, a web developer plans, constructs, and maintains a website to ensure it functions as intended and remains up-to-date. Web development is a creative and dynamic process that brings the virtual world to life.


Web development is building websites using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It involves a plan, a construction phase and continues with ongoing maintenance and updates.

In this article:
Building the web
Website building blocks
The builder
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