Simply put, a web engineer is responsible for building websites and applications, whereas a software engineer focuses on software development projects and functionalities. Executing on these goals for a web development project requires an assortment of core skills. Any prospective web engineers should ensure they have the correct skills before taking on a web engineering position.
Updated October 18, 2022
What does a web engineer do?
Their work can involve a lot of different tasks and is crucial for the overall construction of web services, as well as the ongoing operation of those sites and services.
This guide will look at what web engineers actually do and some of the key skills a web engineer has to have to succeed.
Interested in a web engineer job? Browse our directory of web development companies to explore skillsets that are needed for entry-level positions or job titles that require years of experience.
What Do Web Engineers Do?
Web engineers and developers are responsible for building websites and web applications, along with user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX). They spend their time coding sites and applications to make them functional and provide seamless experiences for the user, as well as managing the "behind-the-scenes" mechanical and technical aspects of websites and services.
Web engineers can focus on the frontend and backend of projects while finding areas for new technologies within an overall web project.
The purpose of their work is to make the site and all of its applications as functional and accessible as possible. As an example, a full time web engineer might be tasked with creating a contact form application for a website that collects user data and delivers that data to a database. They'll need to handle the coding and building of this application and tie it in with the existing web design so that everything works correctly.
7 Key Skills for Every Web Engineer
For developers applying to web engineer positions, these skills will be under any job description.
The field of web development and web engineering is growing bigger with every passing year, with employment expected to grow at a much faster rate in this field than many others, according to recent statistics. Competition for engineering roles or internships will also increase as the number of people studying to become a web engineer continues to rise, so it's vital to have several key skills to give oneself the best chances of success in a web engineer role.
HTML is the language of the internet.
It doesn't matter what sort of tool or framework you're using as a web engineer, HTML is always going to be a big part of your work, so you need to have a thorough grasp of what it is and how it works.
It's particularly important to know the most common HTML tags that you can insert into your work without having to look them up, as well as having a grasp of metadata, the general structure of HTML documents, and so on.
Additional Reading: ‘How to Put Together Your Ideal Software Development Team’
PHP is another programming language that is vital for web engineering.
It's used to manage databases, dynamic content, site building, and so more, being integrated with leading databases like SQL and Oracle.
Web engineers work with PHP all the time, so they need to be highly efficient in terms of how they implement it in order to deliver results on time and keep up with strict project deadlines.
It's mainly used to improve the UI and UX of an application or site, and having a good grasp of CSS can help web engineers save time on their work.
You'll need to know how and when to make use of CSS properties, common CSS selectors and classes, and how to add CSS to a HTML document.
Learning the basics of UX design will assist with any application development project.
5. A Growth Mindset
The world of web engineering and development is always changing, and the best engineers need to be able to do the same.
Being stuck in your ways or only ever willing to use the same old tools and methods you've learned years ago is a surefire way to get stuck in the past.
Web engineers need to stay aware and up to date of these technologies and practices and be willing to learn them and incorporate them into their way of working.
All development tasks have a project manager or product manager involve, so having a growth mindset will also assist with you listening to people in an authoritative position or working with a full team of web engineers.
Organization is another key trait that every web engineer should work on.
Working in the field of web development and engineering can often feel quite intense and hectic, with so many things to do and projects stacking up all the time.
Often, engineers will be relied upon to work independently and manage their tasks accordingly, so you need to be able to manage your time, stay organized, and have strict schedules and plans for your various tasks and duties.
A good technique to help with organizational processes is to put together templates to assist with coding and other full stack fundamentals.
Another of the key web engineering skills that can be vital for success in this line of work is good communication.
Communication is key in almost every type of work, but it's vital when working on websites and applications. You need to be able to understand client needs, communicate with design and development teams, and ensure that all visions are aligned in order to push projects forward.
It can also be important to be able to communicate and explain what you're working on to people who don't have the same understanding of coding as you.
All job descriptions for web engineer roles and internships should include a subsection about communication (outside of the other certifications you need) to ensure all applicants can work well with teams in the web development space.
Web Engineers Need Key Skills and Traits to Succeed
If you’re looking to become a web engineer, explore job descriptions for web development jobs and other related fields like positions in the computer science world. A lot of the technical and professional development aspects should overlap.