DEV Community

Cover image for 11 Essential Web Development Skills to Learn in 2021

11 Essential Web Development Skills to Learn in 2021

Java Programmer and blogger
・18 min read

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article.

If you are a web developer and wondering what things you should learn in 2021 to take your skills to next level, or you are someone who wants to become a web developer in 2021, but not sure about which technologies, tools, framework, languages, and libraries to learn, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, I am going to share some of the most essential things a web developer should know.

Being an author of a technical blog, I often receive questions like w*hat tools and technologies should a web developer learn?* Which programming languages are suitable for web development, and what skills are necessary? I am going to answer all those questions from my reader in a series of blog posts, and this is the first one of them.

In this article, I am going to share the most essential things a web developer should know, which obviously includes the big three of Web development --- HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and several other useful tools that are essential but not mentioned or taught together.

If you are looking for surprises or shiny new technologies like Svelte.js or Vue.js, then I am sorry they are not part of this article, as I don't think they are essential for all web developers.

They might be good for a seasoned web developer looking to learn a new JavaScript framework but not something a beginner should learn. Instead, this article is based upon my own practical experience and contains the most essential thing a Web developer should learn in 2021, mainly a frontend developer.

And, if you need a comprehensive course to become a web developer, I highly recommend The Complete 2020 Web Development Bootcamp course by [Angela Yu] on Udemy. It's a great resource to become a full-stack web developer with just one course.

Btw, If you are an experienced web developer than I don't want to disappoint you, and I'll write about those new technologies, frameworks, and libraries in the coming days, and there we'll see the benefits and wonders of learning new things, but for now, let's focus on the most essential thing a Web developer should learn in 2021.

What skills a Frontend Developer Learn in 2021?

Without wasting any more of your time, here is my list of things a web developer or anyone who wants to become a web developer should learn in 2021.

This list includes programming languages like javascript, markup language like HTML, styling tools like CSS, a framework like React, IDE like VSCode, tools like Chrome Developer Tools, NPM, and Webpack, and REST API tools like Postman and GraphQL, a better way to develop APIs.

I have also included Responsive web design as a skill because, in 2021, it's almost given if you want to serve all of your audience accessing your website or web application using different devices.


1. HTML (HTML 5)

This is the first and foremost thing anyone serious about web development should learn. It's probably the oldest web technology out there and also the first one I learned long ago, but it's still relevant, and you just cannot become a Web Developer without a good knowledge of HTML. Technically it's a markup language and used to specify the structure of your page.

Nowadays, it's very rare for anyone to create a web page by writing HTML. Instead, most of the webpage you see is generated by an advanced framework like Angular and React. Still, if you want to understand, debug, and solve problems, you must know essential HTML tags like div, span, title, headers, etc.

Even if you know HTML, there is no harm in updating yourself with the latest development, and if you want to start from scratch, I suggest you join the Learn HTML 5 Programming from Scratch course on Udemy. It also covers CSS, which we'll discuss next in the list.

Image for post

2. CSS (Bootstrap, Flexbox and Grid)

Apart from HTML, if there is another irreplaceable web technology is then it must be CSS 3 or Cascading Style Sheet. CSS is used to style your web page, I mean to make it look more beautiful. You can also use CSS to specify the layout of the element.

Just like HTML, it's scarce now to style your web pages by writing CSS classes by hand, instead of many people and the team use a framework like Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS, Materialize, etc. Like HMTL, CSS is also evolving, and now you have things like Flexbox and Grid.

Since it's absolutely essential for any project you work on to look more beautiful, you have to learn CSS. If you are a beginner, I suggest you start with barebone CSS and then move onto these new developments like Flexbox and Grid.

If you need a resource, I recommend Advanced CSS and Sass: Flexbox, Grid, Animations, and More! Course, which not only covers CSS from scratch but also teaches you Flexbox and Grid, which is going to serve you well in 2021.

Image for post

And, if you need more choices, you can check out these free HTML and CSSS online courses and these best CSS courses from Udemy and Pluralsight.

3. JavaScript

This is the third most essential thing any Web developer should learn; in fact, without JavaScript, the Web would not have been where it is today. When I learned JavaScript, people told me that it put life in your webpage, it can make your webpage interactive.

Like you can do things when someone clicks buttons, you can change animations and look and feel of your webpage when the user moves the mouse, etc. All those are still true, but JavaScript now offers much more. In fact, you can develop a complete web application end-to-end just using JavaScript.

It has evolved from an essential frontend programming language to a full-stack language, which also allows you to write backend code. This was made possible by Nodejs, another necessary framework for web developers.

The bottom line is, JavaScript is absolutely a must for any Web Developer, both frontend and backend, and you should definitely spend some time learning JavaScript in 2021.

If you need a resource, I recommend The Complete JavaScript 2021: Build Real Project class by Jonas Schmedtmann on Udemy, which is a great course to learn JavaScript in depth. It's equally useful for both beginners and experienced Web Developers.

Image for post

By the way, JavaScript is still evolving, and now we have things like WebAssembly, which allows you to run code as fast as C, C++, and Rust in your browser.

And, if you need more choices, you can also see this list of free JavaScript courses and the best JavaScript courses for beginners in 2021.

4. React.js

As I have mentioned in the previous paragraph that Web Development, particularly frontend development, has come a long way in the last decade. Now, you don't need to write HTML and CSS to create your webpages, like many other web developers and I have done in the late nineties and early 2000s.

Now, you have a framework like React, which can dynamically generate web pages for you. That's why a web developer needs to learn a frontend framework like React.

If you want to learn to React in 2021 and looking for a recommendation, I suggest you join Maximilian's The Complete React Guide (with Hooks) course, which is most up-to-date and also covers React Hooks, an essential concept to master in 2021.

Image for post

Btw, React is not the only one out there, in fact, there are many other frontend frameworks that are as powerful as React like Angular, Vuejs, Svelete.js but I recommend React because it has adopted by many companies, both small and large and I think it is here for a long run.

And, if you need more alternatives, you can also check out these free React.js courses and these best online courses to learn React in 2021.

5. NPM (Node Package Manager)

Now that we have covered the most essential programming language and framework for frontend development, it's time to look at essential tools or web development, and first, ane of them is NPM. If you don't know, now you don't need to write code for everything you need.

For example, if you want to generate dynamic web pages, you don't need to write a framework, someone else has already written, and you can just import them to use in your project.

All this was made possible because of NPM or Node Package Manager. It's the world's biggest software registry and hosts more than 800,000 code packages.

Technically, NPM is a package manager of JavaScript programming language. It is also the default package manager of Node.js, which provides a JavaScript runtime environment for server-side development.

It consists of a command-line client called npm for downloading those modules and also hosts both public and private packages online.

You generally learn about NPM when you learn nodejs, but even if you don't know node, you should learn NPM. If you need a resource, I recommend Andrea Mead and Rob Percival's The Complete Node.js Developer Course on Udemy, one of my favorite courses to learn Nodejs from scratch.

Image for post

And, if you need more alternatives then you can also check out these free Node JS courses and the best Node.js online courses for full-stack web developers.

6. VSCode

When it comes to code, the IDE is your most important tool, and as a Java developer, I always feel lucky that we have not one but three top-class IDE --- Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJIDEA. For a long, when I do web development, I think we don't have any tools which can compete with IDEs like these.

No doubt that you can use them for web development, too, but it makes more sense for Web developers who use Java in the backend. Microsoft VSCode changed that thing and has come along as the most potent IDE or Editor for Web Development.

Compared to those fat IDEs, VSCode is also very lightweight and highly configurable. You also have plugins for almost anything from developing frontend to connecting to a cloud-like AWS, Azure, and GCP and deploying your application.

If you want to become a proficient Web Developer in 2021, I suggest you learn VSCode in 2021, and if you already know, just learn more like shortcuts, new extensions, etc. If you need a resource, then John Papa's The Visual Studio Code course on Pluralsight is the best one to start with.

Image for post

By the way, you would need a Pluralsight membership to join this course which costs around $29 per month or $299 per year (14% discount). I highly recommend this subscription to all programmers as it provides instant access to more than 7000+ online courses to learn any tech skill. Alternatively, you can also use their 10-day-free-pass to watch this course for FREE.

7. Chrome Developer Tools

This is another essential tool for Web Developers, particularly frontend developers. For a long time, I relied on the View Page Source option of Internet Explorer to figure out what's going on on a particular web page, it's an old story, but things have changed ever since Chrome took the market by storm in the last decade.

Now, almost 70% Web is browsed using Chrome. Many Web Developers don't know that Chrome has a built-in debugging tool, know as Chrome Developer Tool. You can access this by right-clicking and clicking on "Inspect."

This tool not only allows you to see raw HTML but also CSS, JavaScript libraries, and much more. You can even change the CSS classes on the fly and play with look and feel.

I strongly recommend you to learn this tool in-depth, and if you need a resource, I recommend DevTools Pro: Beginners to Expert** course on Udemy. It's a good beginner-level course to start with the Chrome Developer tool.

Image for post

8. Postman

This is another absolutely must-know tool for Web Developers. Since today's Web world is a Web of APIs, you need a tool that can help you to explore APIs, and there is no better tool than Postman for interacting with APIs. You can use Postman to send HTTP requests, access APIs, check their response header, and do much more.

It doesn't matter if you connect to internal API or external APIs offered by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many other payment gateways, Postman is essential for exploring and understanding them. It's also an excellent tool to test your own APIs.

You can get Postman as a Chrome extension or a desktop client. Again, I strongly recommend you to learn Postman if you need a resource check out this Postman Complete Guide: REST API Testing course by Valentin Despa on Udemy.

essential webdev technologies

And, if you need more choices, you can check out this list of best Postman courses for API developers.

9. Responsive Web Design

This is a no-brainer but again an essential thing to learn for Web developers. If you want to develop a website or web application, it must be responsive to cater to your audiences and customers accessing your site from different devices.

Responsive web design allows you to best present your website depending upon the size of the tools your users are using. I have seen many frontend developers not paying attention to this essential skill, don't be one of them, and learn Responsive web design.

Most likely, it will be handled for you by a framework, but knowing how it works is essential to troubleshoot and maintain your web project. If you want to learn Responsive Web design in 2021, I suggest you take a look at Jonas Schmedtmann's Build Responsive Real World Websites with HTML5 and CSS3 course on Udemy.

Learn Responsive web design for web development

And, if you need more alternatives, you can check out this list of free HTML courses and the best HTML courses.

10. GraphQL

If you know, most of the Web is driven by APIs, mainly REST APIs. One of the crucial jobs for a web developer is to either develop APIS as a backend developer or consumer those APIs as a frontend developer.

In both cases, you need to know how to interact with them. While REST is an easy and accessible way for developing APIS, it has some shortcomings for any practical web application like too many end-points to maintain and unwanted data to download and process.

GraphQL addresses that problem, and it's already powering the next level of APIs development.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, I recommend you to learn GraphQL in 2021, and if you need a resource, I suggest you take a look at the GraphQL with React: The Complete Guide course by none other than Stephen Grider, one of Udemy's best instructor.

Image for post

And, if you need more alternatives, you can check out this list of best Graph QL courses for full-stack developers.

That's all about what aspiring web developers should learn in 2021. These are the essential technologies for any web developer, but particularly frontend developers. There is a good chance that you already be familiar with many of these technologies like the big three of web development --- HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Still, they keep evolving like CSS now have FlexBox and Grid, JavaScript has ES6 and WebAssembly, etc. Spending some time keeping yourself up-to-date will go a long way in becoming a better web developer.

In this article, I have tried to mention the most essential things, but as a Web developer, you also need to learn a lot. I don't want to overwhelm you, but things like HTTP, SSL, Certificates are also essential.

If you're going to in more detail, I also recommend you check this Complete Web Developer RoadMap, which includes a lot more things a Web Developer should learn.

Other Web Development Articles you may like

Thanks for reading this article so far. If you find these article useful, please share with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or feedback, then please drop a note. If you have any other tools, technologies, frameworks, libraries, and skills which a Web developer should learn, feel free to drop a comment.

P. S. --- If you are a complete beginner not just for web development but also in the programming world but aim to become a web developer in 2021, then I also suggest you join The Complete Web Developer in 2021: Zero to Mastery course on Udemy. It's one of the comprehensive and most up-to-date resources to learn Web development in 2021.

Discussion (3)

sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr

state-management & knowledge of state machines would be a super addition here.

Often when Angular/react etc. apps end in spaghetti it's because of lack of knowledge on how to manage state in my experience. :)

devbirgit profile image
Birgit Pohl 🏡

Web performance

These are the interview questions you get as a frontend developer.