Between 2021 and 2031, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts web development will grow by 23%. That growth translates to over 45,000 new jobs. But how do you capitalize on this emerging opportunity?
Even if you’re just a beginner, you might know that you can use several different languages to build and optimize websites. The sheer number of choices can seem overwhelming, and it can be difficult to decide which language to learn first or to figure out the best programming language for web development to meet your goals.
Let’s walk through nine of the best programming languages for web development so you can find your best match.
What is Web Development?
Web development encompasses all of the tasks associated with developing websites. It’s the process of building a functional website, including user-facing content, configuring network security, designing the site, and handling the back-end scripting when necessary.
It also involves maintaining, optimizing, and managing a website to ensure it always functions as it was designed to. Web developers will optimize a site’s speed and performance to provide an exceptional user experience.
Web development and software development are similar, but when it comes to web developers vs. software engineers, the former only works on websites. Software engineers, on the other hand, can potentially work on a variety of applications depending on their technical skills.
Read more: Deep Dive into Full-Stack Web Development
The Qualities of a Good Programming Language for Web Development
Every coding language has its strengths and weaknesses, so the best programming language for web development will vary depending on your specific strengths and goals. It may also vary depending on the specific use case, since each project may have different requirements or objectives.
Since websites can vary in terms of scope and sophistication, the most important quality of a good web development language is versatility. It should also be widely supported by top networks and search engines to optimize the site’s reach to users.
Web development languages should also be easy for other developers to understand, interpret, and interact with. But rarely is one language a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, when building a website, you’ll probably find yourself using multiple languages for different phases of development.
You’ll likely need a back-end programming language for server-side development but a front-end language to complete the components a user will interact with. Tech-savvy individuals who have mastered both front-end and back-end programming are known as full-stack developers. Full-stack developers are in high demand (and have exceptional earning potential) because they can oversee a web development project from beginning to end.
Becoming a full-stack developer starts with learning just a few core web development languages first. So let’s take a look at our list of some of the best programming languages for web development.
The Best Programming Languages for Web Development
There’s no single best programming language for web development, rather there are several great options. Each of these is useful for working on specific types, or specific phases, of projects.
HyperText Markup Language (or HTML) is not a programming language, strictly speaking. It’s a markup language that’s foundational for web development. HTML is used to create the structure of web pages, including paragraphs, images, links, etc. HTML tells the browser how to display these page attributes to the user.
HTML is relatively easy to learn and use. It’s free, supported by all browsers, and allows for the use of templates that can expedite web development. HTML is, however, a static language, meaning you can’t use it to create dynamic content. It has to be used in conjunction with other languages.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is another programming language that’s not really a programming language. It’s a stylesheet language used to create the stylistic elements of a web page, impacting the position, color, and size of all web page elements, such as text, logos, and images.
CSS is a simple but powerful language that is easy to learn, and the combination of HTML and CSS can yield dynamic stylistic elements that captivate users. CSS can also optimize page loading speed due to its responsive nature.
Learn more: How Long Does it Take to Learn CSS?
Based on the C++ and C programming languages, Java is one of the most widely used programming languages in existence. This object-oriented language commonly runs on devices like medical equipment, gaming consoles, computers, and smartphones.
Java is portable, meaning you can transfer the code you write from device to device. You could write Java-based code on your laptop and move it over to your smartphone, and it would still function. This portability is possible because the creator of Java stuck to the principle, “Write once, run anywhere.”
Java is easy to learn, debug, write, scale, and transfer to other devices. It’s versatile, but it does consume more memory and runs more slowly than C++ or C, for example.
Python features high readability and a simple structure that makes it easy to learn. Despite its low barrier of entry, Python is highly versatile and especially useful for back-end web development. It’s usually implemented using a framework like Flask or Django. It also integrates well with other commonly used languages like Java or C.
You might also see Python used for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and scientific computing purposes. If you’re interested in branching out into other developer-related roles in the future, Python may be a great language to learn.
It also provides developers with more debugging tools, which makes it easier to catch errors when working with massive code bases. It can also be a little trickier for newer developers to learn and write, though, while veterans may find it easier to pick up.
C++ is one of the oldest programming languages in use today. Development on this language began in 1979, but it didn’t gain traction among developers until years later.
C++ is not overly complex to learn, so intermediate-level programmers should have no trouble mastering it. C++ is also powerful and includes exception handling, type checking, and object-oriented programming capabilities. This makes it versatile enough for various applications, including back-end web development.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is used to delete, update, read, or create database records. It’s portable, easily accessible, and widely used, but it’s not a traditional programming language. While SQL isn’t used to create websites directly, it can be a crucial resource for accessing helpful databases.
9. Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a popular full-stack web application framework. It features the Ruby language at its core, a very simple and intuitive programming language that also has a lot of capabilities. The Rails framework features a modular design, a lean code base, and extensive open-source code developed and maintained by its active community.
Due to the many developers that support and work with Ruby, there’s a large number of libraries, tools, plugins, and resources you can use to expedite web development projects. Ruby may be a little slower than other coding languages, but it’s lightweight — one line of Ruby code can sometimes amount to six lines of Java, for example.
Learn more: Ruby on Rails vs. Python
How to Choose the Best Web Development Language for You
There are many factors to consider when choosing which coding language is right for you. First, you should consider your skill level and your aptitude for learning coding languages.
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