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How To Become A Front-End Developer: A Learner’s Handbook

With the constantly evolving technologies, languages and frameworks, it is not easy to start out as a front-end developer.

In this blog post, we will see how you can make it big as a front-end developer. It’s not only about learning different frameworks and programming languages. It’s also about the interaction, responsibilities and roles that you will face.

But first, Who is a Front End Developer?

They are the people responsible for building and maintaining websites. They mainly deal with how a website appears to a user and how these viewers can interact with the website.

Whenever a user navigates to website, whatever content that is visible to him/her can be made interactive and brought to life by the use of certain clickable buttons, dynamic videos,etc. It is the job of a front end developer to bring the content to life via these interactive features.

They will create a code which controls the layout of a website, and enables what elements should be displayed where and in specified fashion. They also take care of the responsive parts of the web design which include clickable buttons, scrolling panels and dynamic audio/video.

When starting out in front-end, it can be confusing where to start. With so many options available not only programming language-wise, but tools, frameworks, etc. as well.

Responsibilities of a Front End Developer

  • Enhancing the user experience by developing new features
  • Optimization of content for best speed and scalability
  • Building reusable codes and libraries
  • Making sure of technical feasibility of user interface
  • Assuring user input is validated before sending to back-end
  • Collaboration with other stakeholders

Picking up many platforms, languages, libraries and tools to use is good but there’s always a danger of having a shallow familiarity of some but no deep competence in any!

It is expected that you are up to date with the new trends and try implementing in your projects. The most important skill you can have as a developer is to be able to learn quickly, which will keep you flexible and allow you to pick up new tools and skills quickly.

Skills Expected from a Front-End Developer

1. Learning the basics — HTML & CSS

I strongly believe that just like for any career basics matter, same is the case for a front-end developer. They should have good command over HTML and CSS programming languages.

HTML knowledge enables you to tell a web-page what content should be displayed where and how it should be shown. The content could be an image, video or text.

CSS tells about the styling of your web-page, and allows changing the look of a website. This could include changing fonts, colors and size of elements.

NOTE: the demand for JavaScript has increased a lot and is a popular language which should be in your skill set. It helps you create interactive web elements, applications leading to more user engagement.

2. Building Elements

Start small  (UI elements) but don’t be afraid of creating bigger things like an actual landing page or website. Using JavaScript snippets, might ease your work. You can up your game, by making responsive elements for users viewing on different devices.

Never stop learning and taking challenges, build to learn!

3. Deep Dive in the frameworks

Having knowledge of certain frameworks is essential. As a front-end developer, you need to know why they do things in a certain way. Also, choosing the right framework for the right problem is important. You can ease your work of creating UI elements by using frameworks. These allow for reusing already created elements with defined styles.

NOTE: There is a high demand of developers who know about advanced libraries including jQuery,React, Backbone,JSON and Angular.js, Node.js, etc.

This describes the skills and technologies that a front end developer can use to design their websites and web apps.
4. Increase Search Visibility

If your goal is to address a larger share of target audience, developers should use SEO techniques. The rules in web markup help make web pages be more visible in SERPs.

5. UI and UX

The interface for any user on your website should be simple and feasible, in terms of browsing and accessing content. Wireframing basics are expected from a front-end developer.

6. Accessibility for Users

There might be users with certain restricted abilities, but you have to make sure they are also able to interact with devices. The websites/apps can be made usable for them via modifications like text-to-speech software.

7. Version control will save your life.

Never be afraid of losing your best working codes. You should keep trying new things with your codes. Through version control, they won’t blow away so easily. You can always toll back to what was working better previously for you. So keep testing and keep debugging!

Become an expert with Git or SVN and save your hard-worked hours.

8. CSS-transforming tools to style it up

As a front-end developer creating valid cross-browser and mobile compatible style sheets will be a regular challenge. CSS programming has limited capabilities for creating optimized style sheets. But, CSS pre-processors such as LESS and SASS can be of great help to overcome this task of styling.

9. Cross-browser compatibility

There are numerous web browsers and different versions of them, support different variants of programming languages. You should avoid and solve such browser compatibility issues.

10. Responsive design

Web applications can also be used by the user on different devices other than a computer like a mobile phone or a tablet. Front-end developers have to construct and optimize these apps for flexibility across different screens.

11. Web template systems

A Content Management System (CMS) can offer a lot of built-in features for the ease in development of web applications. A web template system helps in instant creation of UI elements. This gives a front-end developer some advantage in terms of saving time and effort.

12. There’s more to it than just building a website

Knowledge of building a website is a just small piece of the front-end jigsaw. There is a lot more to learn about. A key part of your job is to optimize and improve the performance and quality of your web-pages.

NOTE: understanding of asynchronous request handling, partial page updates, and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a technique which allows web pages to be updated asynchronously – the browser doesn’t need to reload the entire page but only the changed parts.

13. Graphic designs – 2D and 3D

UIs can have interactive and dynamic graphics, sometimes even in three dimensions. Front-end developers can try visualizations and dashboards with the help of SVG or JavaScript libraries.

This describes about the popular web development tools which you can use to create an interactive and responsive website.
14. Tools for Use

Having your most favored tools and the software are good to make your front-end developer job easy. But remaining on the lookout for new and better tools according to the industry is great. Improved versions will help in enhancing and automating your workflow.

15. Involve in open source projects

Taking up various projects, especially open source, will make you a better front-end developer. It will also help you build up experience and your own online brand.

16. Being a middleman

As a front-end developer, you are in for some kind of middleman role. You will not only be in touch with developers but also teams dealing with clients and user experience.

Hence, besides learning the basics of programming, you need to make sure to be able to communicate clearly.

Wrapping it up.

The path to becoming a front-end developer is full of challenges. Since the web is a swiftly evolving universe, a good front-end developer should never stop learning and pick up knowledge which will impact your learning curve positively.

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