Have you visited any great websites lately? The kind where you immediately get a feel for the brand and have no trouble finding what you’re looking for? Websites like that are built by talented front-end web developers who understand how to create intuitive layouts and great user experiences.

Front-end development, also sometimes called client-side development, is web design carried out on the front end of a website—the parts that web users see and interact with. It’s created using coding languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. A front-end developer is responsible for all the visual elements that visitors access through a web browser like Chrome or Safari.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have back-end development, also known as server-side development. A back-end developer is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes aspects of websites that users don’t see. Developers who can do both are called full-stack developers.

Front-End Developer Skills

Below is a brief guide to the main tools and skills used by front-end developers:

1) HTML and CSS: These two programming languages are the foundational blocks of front-end development. You can’t create a web design or launch a webpage without using HTML and CSS. So it’s imperative for web designers to master these two languages.

2) JavaScript: This is another one of the most popular programming languages for front-end development. JavaScript lets you add more features to a website. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all you need to create a basic web application. Using these, you can design maps, interactive films, and online games.

3) jQuery: This is basically a collection of extensions that make developing a website with JavaScript much easier. jQuery is a lightweight library working under the mantra “write less, do more”. The ability to wrap multiple lines of JavaScript code into a single line of code makes jQuery a valuable tool for front-end developers.

4) JavaScript Frameworks: Frameworks like AngularJS, Ember, and ReactJS create structure for JavaScript code. They’re the most popular frameworks among front-end developers and can be used with libraries like jQuery to minimize coding effort.

5) CSS Preprocessors: A CSS preprocessor is a program that speeds up the functionality of CSS, thereby reducing coding time. It helps process the code faster before publishing it on a website, making it a favorite among front-end developers. SASS and LESS are two of the most popular preprocessors in the industry today.

6) REST Services and APIs: REST or Representational State Transfer describes how networked resources are defined and addressed. It makes network communication easier on the web. This architectural technique basically defines a set of constraints to be used for creating web services. Experience in REST is extremely important for aspiring front-end developers because your aim as a web developer is to create a RESTful website that works best on the web.

7) Content Management Systems and E-Commerce Platforms: CMS is a well-known acronym. The most commonly used CMS is WordPress, a platform that allows anyone to build a website - even if they don’t know how to code and aren’t a front-end developer. It’s estimated that almost 60% of websites use WordPress. Joomla, Magento, and Drupal are other popular content management systems.

8) Testing and Debugging: Debugging is basically the process of fixing bugs—errors that hinder programs from functioning properly on the web. To check if the fixes are working, a front-end developer needs to be proficient in different testing methods. Unit testing is the process of testing a unit of code, whereas acceptance testing is a type where you double-check a website is working while a user visits the website.

So what’s the best way to learn all those skills? Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for aspiring front-end developers looking to get started in the industry.

Front-End Developer Courses

We’ve put together a list below of some of the most popular front-end developer courses that will have you coding like a champ in no time.

1) Software Engineering (Thinkful): This course is for those who want to learn how to design professional websites, and covers both front-end and back-end development. You’ll learn how to build an interview-ready portfolio using JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5. This is a good option if you’re a beginner, since this course will familiarize you with some of the latest technologies for developing sites that work on mobile phones, tablets, and all the major browsers. You’ll gain skills like agile development and responsive web design. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to design websites with appealing layouts and range of fonts and color schemes.

The course is offered completely online, in both a full-time and part-time format.

2) Mobile Web Specialist (Google): If you’re interested in learning the basics of programming languages like HTML, CSS, JS, Node, and MongoDB, then this course could be a great option for you. You’ll learn how to make a range of web applications designed specifically for mobile. The course ensures balance between theoretical and practical learning, and is a good starting point for aspiring front-end web developers without any prior experience. Even if do you have prior knowledge of HTML and CSS, this course will tighten your programming skills. You’ll be provided with detailed guidance and assessed through assignments throughout the course.

3) Front-End Web Development (Harvard Extension): This course will introduce you to different aspects of React components, such as Flux and Redux. You’ll learn how to use the React library and JavaScript ES6 to build various applications. By the end of the course, you’ll have the opportunity to work on React animation support and testing. This is an intermediate level program, so you’ll need to have basic knowledge of JavaScript and web-related technologies, but the skills you learn will help you become a professional front-end developer.

4) Developers Training (Google): This course will familiarize you with a host of programs and specializations used in front-end development. The lessons are well-designed, with plenty of examples inspired by real-world situations. And each concept is demonstrated with the help of exemplary code.

5) UX/UI Design Bootcamp (Thinkful): Closely related to front-end development is UX design. In a UX design course, you’ll learn to envision the user-flow and look of a new website or app. You’ll partner closely with the software engineering team to turn your plans into a live, user-friendly site. In Thinkful’s course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become a professional UX designer, and also benefit from one-on-one mentorship and career coaching.

According to TechRepublic, front-end web development was one of the 10 hottest tech roles in 2019. And the number of front-end developers is expected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. We pulled together some ballpark average salaries for front-end developer roles and other related job titles:

Front-End Engineer - $101,747

Junior Front-End Developer - $70,687

Front-End Developer - $71,000

How to Succeed in Front-End Web Development

If you’re serious about succeeding as a front-end developer, here’s a tip—it’s not all about your technical skills. The best web developers are those who can communicate and collaborate effectively. You need to be able to relate to your clients, and be a great team player who can work with others to produce the best outcomes. That’s why going it alone with YouTube tutorials may not equip you with all the skills you need to succeed. There are some things that only a great mentor and support network can provide you with.

Thinkful’s full-time web development program offers you the skills, tools, and all the support you need to become a successful full-stack developer. Through the Software Engineering Bootcamp, you’ll learn interactive web apps, server-side programming with NodeJS, and advanced front-end development with React. Be sure to check out our web development blog for more expert tips and inspiration for your future career in coding.

Learn to Code with Thinkful

Take the proven path to a high-income career with professional mentorship and support, flexible ways to pay, and real-world, project-based learning.

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