Eight crucial front-end developer skills for 2023

Front-end developer skills graphic

The demand for front-end developer skills is expected to surge in the next decade, and there are many ways to get started. Indeed, there's never been a better time to gain the skills to become a front-end developer and make a move into this line of work.

But, it's worth bearing in mind breaking into the field of software development isn't an easy task. You'll need to make sure you have the right skills and experience to demonstrate your aptitude and forge a new career.

Back-end development centers around the mechanics of how an organization and its systems tick, while front-end development focuses on how people interact with these platforms, and how to achieve platform functionality.

Mastering the user interface (UI) is key to front-end development, for example, which spans interactive features including buttons and search fields. It's key, as a front-end developer, to organize and chart how somebody might interact with the system you're building, as well as how it looks and feels more generally too, including the color schemes. 

Front-end developers are essential to the success of any business, given that well-designed UIs tend to boost engagement levels and conversion rates. Prioritizing front-end development is crucial, especially if you're a small business without the marketing resources to compete with larger counterparts.

In light of how crucial the front-end developer is 2023, we’ve rounded up the most important skills you need to master to kickstart a career in the field.

What is a front-end developer?

A front-end developer is a developer who's in charge of all visible content on a website.

This includes the design, development, and implementation of the web page itself as well as the upkeep of code to ensure the website functions smoothly and meets user expectations.

Simply put, the front-end developer ensures that everything a user could interact with both looks good and is functional, and represents the company to the best possible extent.

What are the responsibilities of a front-end developer?

Front-end developer responsibilities include making sure page speed and graphics are optimized for user experience, checking that the website is visually consistent with a brand’s identity, and improving the experience of accessing the website on a mobile device.

Front-end developers also have to test and maintain core website elements and ensure that these can be reused not only throughout the website by them, but by their team and potential successor in the role. Front-end developers may also be responsible for search engine optimization (SEO) for their websites. However, in larger organizations, this is likely to be performed by a dedicated marketing team.

Every website has a front-end and back-end, which is why front-end developers never work alone. On a typical workday, front-end developers turn web designers’ ideas into responsive and fine-looking user interfaces.

Back-end developers, who operate and maintain the “behind the scenes” infrastructure of a website, such as servers and databases, complement front-end developers’ work.

Skills needed to be a front-end developer

To become a front-end developer, you will require quite a broad skillset spanning both technical and non-technical skills. Below is a list of eight crucial front-end developer skills needed in 2023.

1. HTML and CSS

Hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS) are a website’s nuts and bolts. While HTML gives structure to web pages, CSS helps style the HTML elements with the colour, fonts, typeface, and more.

2. JavaScript

HTML and CSS fit the bill perfectly for a text-only website, as they’re predominantly static. JavaScript can be a useful addition to responsive websites.

This client-side programming language lets you add interactive features, including polls, slideshows, and forms, to a website. It also offers support for dynamic elements, including, but not limited to, page animation, scrolling, audio, and video.

3. Frameworks and Libraries

Frameworks are pre-written code modules for common website elements like login and search interfaces. They’re easy to incorporate and are reusable. Examples of popular JavaScript frameworks include AngularJS, Ember, and ReactJS.

Libraries, an assortment of plug-ins and extensions, are useful for adding prefabricated elements to a website. A good example is a countdown timer on a retail website. jQuery is a commonly-used open-source JavaScript library with plenty of customization options.

4. Version control

A version control system is software specifically designed to track changes made to code over time. Using this software, developers can compare earlier versions of the code with an older version, commit to changes or restore the previous version.

Furthermore, version control systems can double as backups of original source code, making collaboration easier. Git version control system, for example, allows multiple developers or teams to upload or download source code changes.

5. Cross-browser and device testing

Depending on various factors, a website’s appearance may change across browsers. Developers use browser tools to address this issue.

Browser tools allow developers to test and fine-tune webpages in a way that is best suited to a particular browser. Additionally, developers use responsive design techniques to change site layout and design depending on the type of device accessing it.

For instance, when a PC accesses a desktop website, the site uses more screen real estate and small fonts than mobile sites, which use larger text and less screen real estate.

6. Web performance optimisation (WPO)

A slow-loading website can reduce user engagement drastically. Website performance optimization techniques help ensure faster loading times through automation tools.

For example, Grunt automatically optimizes images and makes page components lighter depending on the device without compromising website functionality.

7. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing traffic to a website organically through search results.

Generally, there is a separate team to supervise SEO practices. However, knowing the basics can help you determine where to place titles, meta descriptions, and text on a website so search engines can easily find them.

8. Soft skills are vital

On top of all the specific IT skills that one needs to become a good front-end developer, there are a number of soft skills that will carry anyone far in their career. Prime among these is good communication, particularly between the front and back-end development teams as changes are applied to a webpage.

Just like how re-skilling must also include ‘soft skills’, non-technical skills are vital to personal and professional development, but cannot be conveyed in a classroom or tutorial. Being able to balance the technical know-how with being personable, cooperative, and capable of thinking on one’s feet will serve any front-end developer very well indeed.

Securing a front-end development role

Traditional routes into front-end development roles via university are still highly common in the global tech industry. However, you’re not necessarily limited in this regard. Taking computer science, IT, and software engineering courses might be the most obvious route into web development, but it’s possible to enrol in a UI or UX design boot camp to kickstart your career.


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Bootcamps such as these offer great opportunities for coders or programmers who are seeking ways to transition into a different career without needing to return to college.

With many other occupations, gaining experience on the frontline is really important when it comes to improving your skills as a front-end developer. As such, you can start small by building websites using HTML and CSS before progressing to more complex methods, such as JavaScript development.

Making a landing page might be a great place to start, too, while working on open source projects can help you keep up with how the industry around you is changing.