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Secrets to being a good web developer

education Updated: Aug 30, 2016 17:08 IST
Rozelle Laha
career

Kunal Golani, senior software engineer, Myntra, believes that the desire to always make things better, faster and more useful goes a long way in making one a top-notch web developer. (Surjith Meethal)

As a child, Kunal Golani loved playing with the components of a computer’s processor, trying to explore how the parts of a computer’s motherboard worked together to carry out commands.

His curiosity and inclination towards computers made him take up computer science as his engineering major after college. However, it was at the US-based company called PeopleFluent in Bengaluru, where he first decided to become a web developer.

“I picked up Javascript, HTML and CSS in the first few weeks and worked on some interesting projects. I explored the vast world of Javascript frameworks and libraries, finding out the strengths, weaknesses and purposes of each. I also dabbled in Java. PeopleFluent then decided to close its India office in a consolidation move, and I moved on to Myntra,” says Golani, who is currently working as a senior software engineer at Myntra.

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So, what is the basic role of a web developer? Web developers write codes that runs websites. This includes server-side code as well as codes that are run in web browsers. The server code includes fetching data from databases and services, transforming it into Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) and serving Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests from browsers. There are many programming languages and frameworks that can be used to do this, including PHP, Python, Perl, JavaScript, Java, Ruby etc. Browser code includes rendering web pages, styling it using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), user interactions and linking pages.

Set your sights on smart websites (HT Photo)

Web developers can work at any company that has a website or an application designed to run in browsers like Gmail or Facebook, for instance. Myntra, the online shopping store, was undergoing a website redesign when he joined in 2012 and he was quick to get totally involved in it. “We decided to make website performance one of the major goals. The most challenging part was the search page with all the dynamic filters and sorting, among others. We got a praise for the new website and it was a success,” he adds.

Currently, Golani is busy making mobile applications for the company. “It’s interesting to see Javascript become this ubiquitous language that runs on everyone’s browsers, smartphones and even enterprise servers,” he says.

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On key things that any web developer should keep in mind, Golani says, is that they should be able to ensure that users can see every detail about the products being represented by the product site developed by them. Websites have to be user-friendly and easily downloadable. “The images of any product are usually large and take more time to download. So we have to optimise their size to ensure that our users don’t have to wait too long to look at a product they like. We also ensure that all the information about the product is easily available. Most importantly, the website should look good and be super fast.”

Web designers want their sites to attract many eyeballs, but they face fierce competition from e-commerce websites and mobile apps that vie for users’ attention and time. Apps usually provide a better and faster experience since they run directly on the mobile device and not a browser. However, while apps run only on smartphones, websites can be accessed through computers as well. “Sometimes you may find an app for iPhones but not find it on the Android platform, but all websites are accessible from any device. We strive to make our mobile websites faster and easier to use,” Golani says.

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Skills that one can develop in order to become a web developer are basic programming, especially in Javascript, and a thorough knowledge of HTML and CSS. Four things that aspirants should do are: Try to solve problems using written logic. Learn a simple programming language to do that; learn basic web development through MOOCs from edX, codecademy or Udacity; sharpen your coding skills by solving challenges on HackerRank and TopCoder; and start early and stay ahead of the curve.

“It’s fun to be working in a space that requires hard technical skills, and to discuss such problems with colleagues. I enjoy writing code and seeing it work - it never fails to amaze me to see what wonders a few characters on a screen can make a computer do,” Golani says.

Coding it all (HT Photo)