The worldwide web is a large place and, given its complexity, the number of jobs and job roles has been steadily increasing. One of the major roles central to this expansion is that of front-end web developer.
Front-end Developers are responsible for implementing within a web application the visual elements that users see and interact with. This is a very fancy way of saying that they take care of what you see and where you click when you go to a web site.
Front-end web developers are the professionals who code websites to function properly on the internet. They handle the look of a website and generally also handle its feel. While a web designer is the individual responsible for the visual aesthetic of a website — its layout, color scheme, illustrations, and so forth — a front-end web developer is the individual who takes concepts and writes them into the site code so.
Generally speaking, web developers work so closely with web designers, that their individual job functions often overlap. The two distinct roles are sometimes combined. When a single individual is good enough to create AND program design concepts, that is a happy confluence indeed.
What do front-end developers do?
Suppose that a product team or the head of an organization decides that they would like a simple website homepage with some images of their business featured, along with an application section where potential users can interact. A front-end web developer is the professional who creates the website and ensures its functionality.
All of the things that make a website work properly are all things a front-end web developer must be able to code and build.
The programming language and tools involved in executing web visions varies greatly. Two abbreviations used to shorthand developer-guided outcomes are UI, or User Interface (what the user sees and how they interact) and UX, or User Experience (how smoothly and intuitively everything functions).
In general, front-end developers are supported by back-end web developers, who are responsible for server-side application logic and the integration of the work that front-end developers do.
A long as we have an internet and websites, there will never be a shortage of demand for qualified front-end web developers. No matter how cool that website looks in your head, you can’t bring a website to life without someone who can bring those ideas to life.
If you are looking for employment as a front-end developer, it’s important to know some of the duties that will come with the role. A developer will be expected to work with clients, stakeholders, or fellow employees to develop the overall look and design of a website. This requires strong interpersonal skills, which I’ll talk more about later on.
Having soft skills is paramount to being a human, let alone a web developer.
A good front-end developer will also need to be able to write website code with programming languages such as HTML, C++, and Java — and that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long-term success requires staying committed to learning new languages, tools, and processes used to write and deploy web sites.
Putting together a functional website is only half the job, of course: Websites have to be maintained, modified, and sometimes even torn down and replaced. There will always be requests to incorporate new applications, graphics, audio and video clips.
Give the people what they want
Developers are also answerable to a key group of secondary stakeholders: website visitors, a.k.a. the general public. Any website is only as valuable as the business aims that it serves. Whether those aims include providing information, facilitating commerce, or simply generating traffic (typically for the benefit of site sponsors and advertisers), users expect sites to be sleek, fast, comprehensible, and accessible.
What if the user wants a shopping cart or some type of widget to make the website experience better? Creating tools that enhance the user’s website experience is a primary responsibility for front-end web developers.
Ensuring that websites are accessible across many platforms, including dissimilar formats like laptops and smartphones will be another job responsibility. “Mobile-first” is one of the more popular terms in web development today. Be prepared to routinely test websites and associated apps for ease of use, speed, and other quality factors.
While some companies do hire individual testers, smaller companies don’t and it is left to the web developer to test out their own code and fix anything that may come up. For a smaller firm, a main job responsibility will be fixing any website issues or bugs that arise.
Keep an eye on
From my standpoint there are three areas of emerging tech that a front-end web developer needs to be aware of for their continued growth. Emerging tech in cloud computing, containers, and no/low code solutions will all impact web development going forward.
Cloud computing is emerging as the place to develop and promote code. It replaces the physical computers and servers of yesterday. Containers are discrete executable code — rather than going through the innards of the website, the code is executed and compiled on-the-fly.
No-code is just what it sounds like it and and allows novice individuals to make scalable applications quickly. It is important that a front-end developer keep up on these three areas of emerging trends in technology. All three have high growth potential and are certainly pushing the web-development envelope.
Certification and training
For education and certifications, what I recommend is simple. First, a boot camp is probably the best way to go for quick education and breaking into the field. If you want to go past that, getting a cloud computing certificate from any of the three major cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) would be the next best step.
Second, I do and will always recommend soft-skills training. If you want to go further in your career, learn how to talk to people and gather requirements. Learn how to listen and how to deliver what people want. It’s never wasted when you spend time on these things.
No matter your interest in the web, my belief is that you can get a taste of everything being a front-end web developer. Your specialization can vary and you can focus on a number of different things, giving yourself other professional development avenues to follow to take your design skills to the next level.