Eight crucial front-end developer skills for 2023
Here are eight crucial front-end developer skills needed to create an engaging and interactive website
With demand for front-end developer skills expected to increase significantly over the next decade, this represents an opportune moment to pursue a career in this rapidly evolving field.
However, embarking on a career in web design and web development is far from a walk in the park, as you need to ensure you’re equipped with the relevant skills.
While back-end development encompasses everything that happens ‘under the hood’ of an organisation, front-end development focuses largely on how users interact with platforms, and the specific components required to execute platform functionality.
Everything from search bars to interactive buttons falls under the umbrella of front-end development, which spans the breadth of all elements a user could interact with on your site, as well as the overall design aesthetic and colour schemes used.
Studies have shown that a well-designed user interface (UI) boosts a website’s engagement levels and conversion rates, stressing the importance of prioritising front-end development, especially if you’re running a small business contending with an increasingly competitive consumer marketplace.
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?
As summarised above, a front-end developer is a developer who is 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 works well, looks good, and represents their 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 optimal 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 optimisation (SEO) for their website. However, in larger organisations 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.
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
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 optimisation techniques help ensure faster loading times through automation tools.
For example, Grunt automatically optimises images and makes page components lighter depending on the device without compromising website functionality.
7. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation 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 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.
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.
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