How to Learn Front End Development
Have you ever wondered who’s responsible for the design of the websites you use every day? Who was behind the design of Facebook? Who decided this site should have a footer? Behind every website is a front end developer who builds the side of a website that a user sees.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the front end web development career path. We’ll talk about the routes you can take and the front end developer skills you would need to break into the field. Finally, we’ll cover the job prospects and responsibilities for this type of web developer.
Front End Developer Quick Facts
|Description||A front end developer is in charge of creating a functional user experience by managing the client-facing aspect of websites.|
|Soft Skills||Creativity, adaptability, good communication skills, ability to work in teams|
|Job Outlook||13 percent growth by 2028|
What Is Front End Development?
Front end development refers to the management of the client-facing aspect or the front end of websites. This covers everything that the user sees, from text and images to menus and navigation bars. Front end developers are in charge of this.
The main responsibility of a front end developer is to create a functional user experience. Users should be able to easily navigate a site and get the answers they were looking for prior to clicking on the site. Users must not run into errors or inconsistencies in the process.
What is Front End Development Used For?
Front-end development is used for designing the part of a website that a user sees. The front-end developer will turn designs created by a web designer into a functional, aesthetically pleasing user interface.
Types of Front End Developer: Front End Engineer vs Developer
The terms “front end engineer” and “front end developer” are often used interchangeably. While their responsibilities are similar, there are a few subtle differences between these coders.
Front end engineers are more involved with the reasoning for the front end of a site. They spend most of their time analyzing the architecture of a site. With help from other developers and designers, they figure out how to implement a website.
Front end developers, on the other hand, are responsible for writing front end code. Their code should be maintainable and perform well at scale.
While understanding the design principles behind a site is part of front end developers’ responsibilities, they don’t spend as much time analyzing them. Instead, they put more focus on turning the design mockups into code.
Learning Front End Development
Front-end development is a valued skill in the technology industry. Although mobile apps are on the rise, it’s hard to describe just how important websites are to our lives.
Consider your day today. You must have visited at least one website because you are here. But you probably visited a lot more. Maybe a news site or a social network.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Front End Development?
Aspiring professional developers should expect to spend much longer studying. This is because professional environments usually have strict guidelines regarding code quality and best practices.
You’ll need to learn the basics of accessible and responsive web design, for instance. You cannot rush your learning. You need to keep your head down and keep going until you feel like you’re ready for a professional job.
How to Learn Front End Development: Step-by-Step
How do you become a front end developer? That’s an excellent question. If you enjoy solving technical problems and have a creative mindset, then you might want to consider a developer job.
Below, we’ll break down a few steps you can take to start your journey to become a front end web developer.
- Learn HTML. The first language any front-end developer learns is HTML. This language defines the structure of a web page. Spend some time learning basic HTML tags and create your own web pages.
- Learn CSS. Once you’ve got a basic understanding of HTML, you’re ready to move on to CSS. Try applying a few styles to the web pages you have already created. Experiment with different designs.
- Design a full website. Once you’ve built a few example pages, you can start building a full website. You could build a portfolio for yourself or a fan site for a television show you like. It’s up to you.
Front-end web development is a skill that you should be able to use throughout your life. the web has only been around since 1989 but it is already a part of many of our daily lives.
The Best Front End Developer Courses and Trainings
Online courses are a great place to start your learning journey. In an online course, you’ll be guided through the topics that you learn about. Many courses are interactive so you can code as you go.
Below we’ve listed some of the top front-end developer courses you may want to consider taking.
Online Front End Developer Courses
- Provider: Codecademy
- Cost: Pro membership ($16 / month)
- Audience: Beginners
Codecademy has created a web development path that guides learners through all the topics they need to know to build a website.
By the end of taking this course, you’ll have built a few websites. This course aims to teach you to build a site for a coffee shop and a site to search for restaurants.
- Provider: Udacity
- Cost: Free
- Audience: Beginners
This course is a basic introduction to building websites with HTML and CSS. You’ll cover the basic HTML tags, CSS selectors and styles, and how to use developer tools in a browser to analyze a web page.
The course lasts three weeks and features interactive quizzes, a student support community, and learning content made by industry professionals.
- Provider: Treehouse
- Cost: Treehouse membership ($20 / month)
- Audience: Beginners
Front End Developer Books
HTML and CSS Is a comprehensive introduction to building websites with HTML and CSS. You’ll learn how to use HTML and CSS to build accessible and usable websites.
This book features a range of photography and graphics to help reinforce the technical concepts you learn about. You’ll also find plenty of code snippets so you can easily experiment with the code you read.
You’ll learn how to apply functional and object-oriented techniques to your code. You will also learn how to use the Document Object Model to interact with websites.
Front End Developer Resources
Career Karma Web Tutorials
Career Karma has an extensive range of web tutorials written for beginners. Here are our lists of tutorials for these topics:
Frontend Masters is a series of online tutorials for beginners to web development. In this bootcamp, you’ll learn everything you need to know to start building your own websites.
This bootcamp is accompanied with interactive coursework to help you build upon the skills you learn in class. Classes are taught by industry-leading experts who have extensive experience building web pages.
Front End vs Back End vs Full Stack Developer
There are different fields in web development and developers employed in each have unique responsibilities.
Back end web developers are more concerned with the part of a website that a user doesn’t see. They are the brains behind the operation. The codes they write may be used for processing payments on a site or deciding the content a user sees when opening a page. To accomplish these, they use programming languages like Python, Ruby, and PHP to build an application.
Full stack developers are what you would call “jack of all trades” developers, or generalists. As the name implies, they have experience and proficiency with both ends of a website.
Front End Developer Skills
There is a range of skills that you’ll need to be successful in front end web development. Determining these skills will depend on where you work and what projects you’re working on.
Below, we’ll break down a few of the top skills that come up in job descriptions for front end web developers.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML). This is used to describe a structure of a web page. HTML lets you specify where text, images, and other forms of content go on a website.
Cascading Style Sheets or CSS. This describes how elements should appear on a web page. CSS lets you define styles like the color of elements on a page, their position, and how text should appear on a website.
Using jQuery allows for the efficient performance of various tasks. There’s the easy manipulation of CSS on a web page and changing HTML elements. There’s also the addition of effects and animations to a site, and streaming data to a web page using AJAX.
Version Control Systems (VCS) are used to manage changes to a software project. Examples of these systems include Git and Mercurial.
VCS are important because they let developers see how a project has evolved. They track every change made to each file in a project. Alongside each record of a file change is information on who modified it and when.
Having this record means that it’s easy to see how a project appeared at a particular point in history. It also makes reverting a project to a previous version easy if you make a mistake.
Front End Frameworks
React, for example, makes it easy to build an interactive web application. It has features that allow you to render the right parts of a web page when data changes on a website. React also lets you split your project into components so that you can reduce repetition in your codebase.
Using React can trim hours from a project because it’s ready to use out of the box. It also provides a range of features you may use throughout the development of an application.
Web Design: User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)
Front end developers do not need to be web design experts. Web design is its own field. With that said, having a strong knowledge of web design is key. The two core parts of web design are User Interface (UI) design and User Experience (UX) design.
UI design refers to creating the look of a web page. A user interface designer will decide where elements such as buttons, text, and images appear on a website.
UX design, on the other hand, is concerned with the whole experience a user has on a website. User experience designers analyze and research a product to determine any points that may confuse users. They then figure out how these problems can be addressed so that users have a seamless experience when they use a website.
People use mobile phones, tablets, and monitors which come in varying screen sizes. This is where responsive design comes in. Responsive design is concerned with building a website that renders effectively on a range of different devices.
This involves understanding the different types of devices on which a user can view a site. Front end developers should be able to design and develop unique experiences for users of these devices. After all, showing the desktop version of a site on a mobile device may work but it’s not exactly elegant.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are used in a range of contexts in web development. Often, back end developers create APIs which power the logic of a site, such as user authentications and payments. Front end developers must then query these APIs so that they can interact with them.
APIs also let you interact with external services. For instance, the Google Sheets API lets you retrieve data from Google Sheets that you can use on your website. This means you can build integrations on top of an existing website.
As a front end developer, you’ll probably use APIs daily to access data for front end display.
No matter what type of coder you are, you need to have some debugging skills. After all, no developer writes perfect code every time. There are almost always mistakes that need to be corrected before a site is launched.
You’ll need to know how to break down a front end problem into different parts and solve it effectively. You should be capable of thinking critically when approaching problems, testing potential solutions, and evaluating the effectiveness of each.
You’ll need more than just technical skills to be a successful front end web developer. Soft skills are an essential part of any job.
Creativity. This is a game-changer in front end development. Websites are one of the most creative mediums of communication. You should be able to come up with unique ways to display information on a site.
Adaptability. You should be open to suggestions and adapt your websites as trends and specifications evolve.
Excellent communication skills. This means knowing how to explain complex technical topics in simpler terms. This is because not everyone you’ll work with will know how to code. You should also regularly update people on your progress so other developers can see how a project is doing.
Good teamwork skills. Good front end developers are those that excel at working in teams. This goes hand-in-hand with being a good communicator. While you may spend a lot of your days writing code, you’ll need to work with other front end developers to build a project.
Talking with developers who work behind the scenes is also important to figure out how to integrate their work into yours. Working with designers, meanwhile, is crucial to understanding how a page should appear. That’s not to mention all the other people with whom you may interact, from project managers and quality assurance engineers to customers.
Front End Developer Salaries and Job Outlook
Front end web developers, like most programmers, earn impressive salaries. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a front end web developer in the United States is $76,929 per year.
The salary that you can expect to earn will depend on several factors, including years of experience. Senior front end developers, for instance, earn $103,344 on average per year, which is significantly higher than the average front end web developer.
Salary may also vary by location. The average front end web developer in San Francisco earns $112,171 per year. By contrast, the average developer in Indianapolis earns $62,958.
Front end web developers enjoy impressive job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in web development are expected to grow by 13 percent by 2028. This growth is reportedly “much faster than average,” an expected event due to the increasing presence of Internet technologies.
The BLS does not break down their statistics specifically for front end web developers. However, the overall trend is clear—front end web development will be a lucrative career for years to come.
Should You Become a Front End Web Developer?
Front end web developers spend their days translating designs into code. They get to know the inner workings behind a site’s design. They then use this knowledge to build a functional and aesthetically pleasing experience.
For developers who enjoy creative work, front end web development could be an excellent career. Not only will you code other people’s designs but you’ll also have some say in the overall creative direction of a website.
If you are more interested in the “brains” behind a website, then back end or full stack web development may be for you. Whatever you choose, one thing is for sure—careers in web development all afford lucrative salaries, great career prospects, and unique responsibilities.
Front End Developer FAQs
While both are concerned with the end user, they do differ in focus. A web designer focuses on website design or appearance. A front end web developer, on the other hand, is more concerned with website functionality.
Yes, on average. However, both fields enjoy nearly the same salary. Front end developers rake in a median pay of $76,000 per year. Meanwhile, back end developers earn $75,000 annually.
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