Front end developer is one of the hottest career options right now, but what is front end development? To summarize, it is that part of web development that is associated with designing interface(s) that allows users to interact with a website or web app.
Before we move further to discuss the path of becoming a front-end developer, let’s build a brief understanding of web development first.
Web Development in a Nutshell
Well, the internet - websites and web apps - has two sides. The front-end or the client-side and back-end a.k.a. the server-side. While the backend is invisible to the users, it is the front-end through which the same interaction with a website or web app.
Front end developers are professionals responsible for designing and implementing the interface, the medium, by which users can interact with the website or web app.
The process of web development starts with web designers who craft the appearance and design of a website. Next, a front-end developer, or a full-stack developer, ensures that the website works by leveraging code, tools, and technologies.
Backend developers, or full-stack developers, then take charge of developing the virtual infrastructure required to support the website or web app, such as databases.
The frontend code runs inside the user browser whereas the code pertaining to the backend development runs on the webserver. Aside from development, a frontend developer also ensures that:
- There are no bugs or errors in the frontend.
- The web design appears exactly the way it is meant to be.
- The web design stays consistent across various platforms and web browsers.
In present times, the areas of front-end and back-end development are overlapping, particularly, in favor of the front-end. This is because many of the tasks that traditionally fall into the domain of back-end development are now handled by front-end developers. Thus, front-end development is becoming more important than ever.
Why do we Need Front-End Development?
The internet is growing at an unprecedented rate these days, and there are all sorts of reasons for that. People use the internet for:
- Gaining information and knowledge.
- Learning and studying.
- Paying bills.
- Running businesses.
- Shopping, etc.
The internet has become a teeming medium with data for everyone; bringing together businesses and customers, connecting people with friends and family, etc.
Every day, more and more users are joining the internet populace to benefit from it. New users mean more demand and thus, more websites and web apps. This eventually demands more front end, as well as back end, developers. Usually, a front end developer is responsible for:
- Working in line with a web designer or web designing team and deciding the web page/webapp design and structure.
- Coming up with features that enhance user experience.
- Forming a balance between aesthetics and functionality.
- Ensuring that the interface works perfectly on mobile devices.
- Maintaining brand consistency throughout the website/web app.
- Web page optimization for superior scalability and speed.
Front-End Development Technologies and Tools
Front end development requires an extensive set of tools and technologies. Each of them is an integral part of modern frontend development. These are:
1. HTML and CSS
No frontend development is possible without HTML and CSS. These two technologies - the HyperText Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets - serve as the foundational building blocks of web coding.
Without CSS and HTML, there is no web design, no formatted text, no media, and not even simple images. Building even the most basic websites demands a good knowledge of CSS and HTML.
Any person aiming to be a top-notch web developer needs to have a robust understanding and rigorous experience of CSS and HTML. The best thing about learning the same, however, is that these two technologies are simple to understand. Thus, a working ability in these can be built in only a few weeks.
No matter what the purpose is, when it comes to web development, whether frontend or backend, code is essential.
Frameworks make it easier and quicker to code. Frontend frameworks are designed specifically for client-side development. Most of the websites begin with the same set of CSS elements. Hence, frontend frameworks save you time and effort. Bootstrap is one of the most popular frontend frameworks. It helps in building websites with the mobile-first approach. Other popular frontend framework options include:
- Angular (JS framework)
- AngularJS (JS framework)
- Automatic rearrangement and resizing of grid layouts.
- Countdown counters.
- Search form autocomplete.
5. CSS Preprocessors
Frontend developers leverage CSS preprocessors for speeding up CSS coding. They help in adding additional functionality to the CSS code while keeping the same easier to work with and scalable.
As the name suggests, CSS preprocessors process the CSS code prior to publishing the same to the website as well as transform the same into a cross-browser and well-formatted variant. As CSS preprocessors is an advanced frontend development concept, you need to develop a good skill set to use it.
Although there are several CSS preprocessors available, two of the leading in-demand options are LESS (LEaner Style Sheets) and SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets).
6. RESTful APIs and Services
Another set of advanced concepts pertaining to frontend development is APIs and RESTful services.
Application Programming Interfaces or APIs allow adding functionality to websites. REST, on the other hand, is a lightweight architecture for simplifying network communication over the web.
Although technically intricate, the concept of REST can be simply understood as a set of guidelines and practices that lay the groundwork for effective web service communication. APIs and services that follow the REST architecture are termed as RESTful APIs and services.
These play an important role in modern websites and web apps. Although we can use web services that don’t adhere to the REST architecture, those that do are superior in terms of modifiability, performance, reliability, and scalability.
How to Become a Front End Developer?
Warning: You need to be ardent and resolute to enter and succeed in the realm of web development. It demands lots of practice, a mushrooming knowledge base, and sheer determination.
Ready to know the path to becoming a front end developer? Ok, let’s go then. To make things easier to understand, we’ll discuss the entire process in phases. Just like other job avenues, front end development starts with learning:
Step 01: Learn front-end development
You will start with three vital technologies for learning and mastering the craft of frontend development:
- CSS - Responsible for the appearance of a website/webapp.
- HTML - Responsible for what of a website/web app. Analogous to the human skeleton.
- Attending webinars.
- Enroll in online courses.
- Going through online tutorials.
- Reading (e)books.
- Watching video lessons.
Read as many articles on front-end development as you can. By doing so you will learn the intricacies of building a website. Eventually, you’ll be able to make sense out of several technologies employed in frontend development.
You can take one or many frontend development courses. It’s great to learn from experienced people in a proper environment. You can either attend a brick-and-mortar class or join an online course. Take one or many as it suits you.
Step 02: Start building real projects
Once you’ve done some good level of frontend development learning, it’s time to put it to test. Now, you should start developing real projects. There are several issues that you won’t face until you start doing it. These can’t be learned by learning but by practicing.
Start small, begin with building smaller, basic interfaces. Eventually, work your way up to more complex interfaces. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. These are important. The more mistakes you will make, the better opportunity for you to learn by practice.
If you don’t know where exactly to start, begin with free, educational projects available online. Study them. Afterward, modify and tweak them to clear your concepts. Today, several online compilers are available. If you wish to save yourself from cluttering your system, use them.
There are so many resources, both paid and free, available online to support learning frontend development. These include Codeacademy, freeCodeCamp, hackr.io, Tutorialspoint, and YouTube among dozens of others.
Step 03: Build your Profile
All projects that you’ve completed on your own, especially the ones that demonstrate your skills and ability must be added to your resume. You need to build your frontend developer profile. There are several ways of doing it and thus, it is all up to you to decide how to do it.
You can make a profile on LinkedIn and other job portals. Add your works to your profile and write descriptively about them. If you don’t like social media then prepare a traditional resume.
Step 04: Apply for a front end development job or internship/Start offering your services as a freelance front end developer
Getting an internship as a junior frontend developer is a great way to learn and earn. By doing so, you get the opportunity to learn from experienced people while playing a role in accomplishing the projects.
Yes, you earn low when you work as an intern but on the flip side, you need fewer qualifications to jump on-board. Moreover, you need not aim for money in the starting. Prioritize learning and experience first.
Once you’ve completed the internship, you can either look for a full-time job or start offering your services as a freelancer. It will take some time to land your first job or freelance project. So, be patient and keep on working.
Step 05 - Learn more technologies and tools
To stay relevant in the ever-evolving landscape of the IT industry, you need to stay abreast of the latest advancements. You need to keep expanding your skillset and technologies that you can work with. Some technologies that you can learn to advance your frontend development career are:
1. Command Line
Modern interfaces are built to be interacted with visually. The idea is to reduce effort and maximize convenience as much as possible. However, that’s for the user. As a developer, you must be able to work with text interfaces if needs be. That is accomplished using the command line.
Any advanced programmer/developer is well-acquainted with the concept of CLI or Command Line Interface. Shell offers you the ability to access an operating system and do several things like displaying files and navigate through the file system via a text interface.
2. Version Control Systems (VCSs)
Modern software and website development leverage the concept of CI/CD i.e. continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment. This means that upgrades are released and deployed continuously in smaller iterations.
To effectively manage the aforementioned, we have version control systems. A VCS allows developers to easily apply and check smaller changes without worrying about breaking the entire code altogether. There are several version control systems but the most popular are:
- Apache Subversion
- AWS CodeCommit
4. Programming Languages
There is a diverse array of programming languages. Each one of them is more or less different from others. While some prioritize some specific set of concepts, some others might disregard it altogether. Hence, the more programming languages you’ll learn, the better programmer you’ll become.
Future Prospects for Front End Developers
With the incessant development of the internet, the growth of front end development is just set to go on. Mobile devices have already surpassed other devices in terms of usage and preference. Therefore, present-day web development prioritizes the mobile-first approach.
Developers of all kinds have ample opportunities to learn and earn today. As the digital world becomes more and more vast and integrated, the requirement for developers is only bound to increase in the future.
Requisites for Becoming a Front End Developer
Like any other career avenue, front-end web development demands a range of abilities and skills. The extent of these abilities, however, depends on the job role. These are summed up as follows:
- A diploma/undergraduate degree/postgraduate degree in computer science or related field.
- Clear and precise communication ability.
- Good understanding of server-side CSS.
- Problem-solving ability.
- Proficiency in programming.
- Basic understanding of management.
- Experience with graphic design, such as Adobe Photoshop.
- Understanding of SEO.
- Working ability in RESTful APIs and services.
Complete Front-End Mastery - Become a Professional Developer
That sums up this write-up on how to become a frontend developer. Now, you will be able to tread on the path to become a full-fledged frontend developer like a pro.
Note down that web development is an ever-evolving career avenue that demands continuous growth and expansion of one’s knowledge and skillset. So, keep doing to get better. Don’t forget to share your success story with our community. We’d love to hear it from you. All the best!
Interested in web development, instead? Check out how to become a web developer?
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