The World Wide Web has come a long way from its relatively humble origins in the late 1980s as an information sharing tool for academics and scientists. There are of course still many websites dedicated to the sharing of academic and scientific information – this website being a case in point. Today, however, we use the web for countless other purposes. At the time of writing there are well over a billion websites, and the number is rising. You can see how many websites there are at any given time here:
The skills required to develop a website are many and varied. Creating a simple personal website for your own enjoyment, or to share with family and friends is often a simple matter of using the website creation tools provided by your Internet service provider or a web hosting service. You provide the content in the form of text and images, and the website creation software does the rest.
Creating a larger, more specialised website is something that cannot usually be achieved using third party website creation tools, however. There are many issues to consider in the design and implementation of a website. What is the purpose of the website? Who is its intended audience? Are you trying to project a particular corporate image? What are the critical security issues for your website?
The range of skills and resources required for the development and maintenance of a particular website will very much depend on the answers to these and other questions. In these pages, we will attempt to provide a basic understanding of the skills required and describe some of the software tools used to create web pages and applications – many of which are open source software applications that are free to download and use.