Talented front-end developers are responsible for crafting customer-facing websites and apps. They play a key role in the web development process by ensuring websites are aligned with company branding. Front-end development also involves aspects of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.
Searching for your favorite movie, browsing a digital catalog, or navigating between blog posts needs to be obvious and effortless. One of the most fundamental front-end developer skills is to create a great user experience. Even the slightest frustration can cause lost sales and damage to the brand.
Front-end responsibilities are distinct from back-end duties. Anything that the user can see or interact with is handled by the front-end developer. They focus on site design, layout, navigation, structure, fonts, colors, images, and content. Back-end developers work under the hood and handle the core functionality of the site. They’re more concerned with server configurations, database set up, and integrating features like payment processors or live chat apps.
Businesses are realizing the importance of their digital presence, and as a result, the demand for front-end developers is booming. In the United States, the average salary for a developer-related position is around $100,000.
If you’re an aspiring front-end developer and want to get started in the field, here are some of the skills you’ll need to be successful. We’ll also cover online UX/UI design courses you can join to learn these skills and fast-track your way to a high-paid developer position.
Must-Have Front-End Developer Skills
Getting up to speed with front-end development skills is a great place to start your journey. While the required knowledge for entry-level developer jobs can vary from company to company, many skills are common across the industry. Focusing your efforts on learning these common skills can boost your chances of success in the job market.
Here’s a list of core front-end developer skills that are often required by employers in the space:
- HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard language used to build documents that are translated into web pages. HTML code is interpreted by your web browser to generate images, animation, text, and other components. The properties of each element are defined by the HTML code you write. This can be tweaked and polished by the designer. Many web design interfaces or templates create HTML code automatically. You still need to understand the code if you want to fine-tune pages or fix errors that can occur.
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used with HTML to define consistent styles and formatting rules through an entire site. HTML dictates what to display, CSS dictates how to display it. For example, you can create a text heading in HTML and then make it blue using CSS. The main advantage of using CSS is that you can change all heading colors at the same time, rather than going through HTML code and changing several headings separately. CSS is a powerful tool to create consistent themes on your site. Before learning CSS you should have a basic understanding of HTML.
- Version Control (GIT) helps developers track and control changes that have been made to the code. If something were to go wrong, you can simply restore a previous version of your work without having to endure the pain of starting over. GIT is an open-source version control system that performs this vital function and can save you a lot of time.
- Frameworks provide you with a pool of common functions for the website you're developing. Examples of popular frameworks include AngularJS, Express.js, Bootstrap, and Blazor. Some frameworks follow the model-view-controller approach to web design resulting in faster development and easier to maintain code. Other frameworks are great for powering complex user interfaces, providing intelligent code completion, and highlighting and fixing errors.
- Graphic Design plays an important part in the web development process. Websites are more than just text. They need to stand out and engage the user. Displaying unique and bold graphics can help you achieve this. Figma, Photoshop, InVision, and Sketch are common design packages used by front-end developers.
- Responsive Design has become a must-have skill in the last ten years. Due to the booming mobile industry, user browsing habits are changing. Gone are the days where every user logs on with a desktop PC. There is now a wide range of internet-ready devices that can be used to access websites. As a front-end developer, you’ll need to understand how to accommodate these devices using responsive design techniques. They allow the layout and design of a site to change depending on the type of device accessing it. For example, a mobile site may have larger text and a simplified drop-down menu system. A desktop site has more screen real-estate to work with and can include larger images and smaller fonts.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure a site is accessible by search bots and optimizing its ranking in search results. SEO is a separate specialization, but as a front-end developer, it doesn’t hurt to learn the basics. You’ll be mostly concerned with on-page SEO. This includes various design features you can build into sites to help them get discovered by Google and Yahoo. Keyword research, meta tags, meta descriptions, alt text, internal linking structures, breadcrumb navigation, and the use of friendly URLs are all examples of on-page SEO concepts.
The Soft Skills That Will Get You Hired
Technical knowledge can only get you so far. Front-end developers must also have excellent soft skills. You’ll be working in teams, communicating with other departments, and even discussing requirements directly with clients. All this requires people skills, a strong character, and a positive attitude.
Here are some soft skills that you must perfect to become a successful front-end developer:
- Learn to Listen: Front-end developers need to be effective communicators. This means being able to pay attention and listen to clients and colleagues. Part of your job will be to capture requirements and empathize with user problems. You’ll also need a solid understanding of the brand image you’re trying to achieve.
- Manage Your Time: Time management, organization, and the ability to prioritize tasks is of utmost importance to become a successful developer. You’ll often be tasked with multiple jobs simultaneously. You must remain calm and tackle each responsibility in a pragmatic manner.
- Accept Criticism: Make the most of criticism by taking on board feedback. This is fundamental to how you’ll grow your skills through practical experience.
- Adaptability: Front-end development is a fast-changing world. To be successful you’ll need to adjust to your environment and constantly learn new approaches. Always be flexible, respond effectively to your working conditions, and be willing to let go of outdated technology.
How to Learn Front-End Developer Skills
Degrees have traditionally been the most common path for aspiring web developers. However, they can take up to 4 years to complete and cost around $30,000 per year in tuition fees. Computer science, software engineering, or other design-related degrees cover a wide range of topics that might not be super relevant for a future in web development.
If you’re looking for a more affordable, more focused, and faster route to kickstart your tech career, consider enrolling in our UX/UI design bootcamp. This online course has been designed by leading experts to teach you career-ready skills. Our goal is to take you from beginner to hired in just a few months. You’ll receive mentorship from experienced professionals as you work your way through our laser-focused curriculum.
Alternatively, you can continue researching the world of web development on our UX/UI design blog. We add regular content just like this post, to help you decide on your future tech career. Start by learning the key differences between UX and UI design and how much you can expect to earn in this field.
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