Web development is a blanket term that can be used to cover all the people who plan, build, and manage a given website-which can include everyone from product and project managers to writers, designers, information architects, programmers, and database administrators. Web dev professionals are charged with nothing less than conceiving, designing, building, programming, populating with content, branding, marketing, supporting, and managing websites.

The job of the Web development team is to create a compelling website. Such websites, generally speaking, are designed to support a business, be it selling things ( or enabling other kinds of transactions (Charles Schwab & Co., eBay), providing financial advice (The Motley Fool) or other online content (The Onion), or helping people search the Web (Google).

Web developers conceive of the website strategy, working for or in consultation with the decision-makers at a company. They figure out the hardware that the site should use, the software necessary to make it function properly, the design and navigation that will get the public to use the site in a way that will support its business, and the information that will keep users coming back. Web developers also program the site so that it functions effectively, adding tools like community discussions and newsletter sign-up capability. They also set up reporting tools and databases to record traffic to the site and what visitors are doing there. (Buying things? Chatting with others? Clicking through on banner or popup ads? Reading?)

These days, because Web surfers are increasingly accessing the Internet via wireless devices, be they Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-enabled computers, cell phones, or personal digital assistants, Web dev professionals are increasingly facing the need to optimize the websites they run for wireless devices.

Web developers typically work long hours, either as part of an in-house staff, professional service, or consulting organization, or on a contract basis. At smaller organizations, the Web developer will wear a variety of hats; at a larger organization, his or her role will be better defined.