For creative thinkers who enjoy exercising their analytical muscles, front-end web development is a highly stimulating tech job that’s both professionally and financially rewarding. Offering unlimited growth potential, this career path can open the door to software engineering, user experience design, and even product design, to name a few.
If you're interested in a career as a front-end developer or need to hire one for your company, this guide will clarify everything you need to know about one of the most in-demand jobs today.
What does a front-end developer do?
A front-end developer spends their days building the interactive, colorful, and content-filled parts of anything you view in your web browser. While you might think of things such as e-commerce websites, online publications, or personal websites, just about everything you access on the web was built, in part, by front-end developers.
Put simply, a front-end web developer is responsible for the development and maintenance of websites and apps. They work with web designers to create the overall look and feel of the website and with other web developers to develop functionality.
A front-end web developer is responsible for the development and maintenance of websites.
Front-End Developer Roles & Responsibilities
As a front-end web developer, you’re responsible for coding the “front end” of a website, which is the user interface, content, graphics, and so on. In most cases, you’ll work with a team of other developers and UI/UX designers to develop high-quality websites and apps that provide excellent user experiences and great performance.
On a day-to-day basis, front-end developers turn visual elements, mockups, and prototypes into functional website and app interfaces while keeping a clean codebase that’s easy to understand and maintainable. This often requires spending significant amounts of time debugging and searching for pesky coding bugs that crop up and fixing them by refactoring code.
Day-to-day, front-end developers turn visual designs into functional interfaces while keeping a clean codebase that’s easy to understand.
It’s worth mentioning that front-end developers are distinct from back-end developers. The front end is specifically the realm of markup languages, interfaces, and programming that provide website interaction. The back end, on the other hand, is focused on business logic, authentication, server-side languages, and databases — a front-end developer isn’t expected to do all this on their own.
While there are developers — and job opportunities — for full-stack developers, they’re usually aimed at skilled developers with several years of experience. Even then, most full-stack developers are specialized on one side or the other while maintaining the flexibility to work on the opposite side of the development process when necessary.
Front-End Developer Job Description
Once you’re on the hunt for a job, an entry-level, front-end developer job description will look something like this:
We’re looking for a product-oriented front-end developer who can hit the ground running with our small design and development team. We build custom e-commerce solutions for clients in various industries, and we’re in need of someone that can help us craft product design strategies and dive into numerous codebases with minimal supervision.
While we do have dedicated back-end developers, we’re a small team, and everyone wears multiple hats. Our front-end developers sometimes need to dive into Node to help out. As such, you have a strong foundation in engineering concepts and methodologies.
Qualified candidates also have experience with design tools and a keen eye for great interfaces and smooth, user-friendly user experiences.
Skills and qualifications
- Proven collaborator and team player with excellent communication skills
- Knowledge of general code base and reusable code components
- Work experience building single-page applications using interface frameworks, such as React and Vue
- Experience connecting static frameworks, such as Next.js, to headless content systems
- Solid understanding of package and dependency management and git workflows
- Basic understanding of design tools, such as Figma, Sketch, and Photoshop.
- Understanding of technical SEO principles is nice, but not necessary
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field preferred but not required.
Front-End Developer Salary
Front-end development, along with all its other perks, is also financially rewarding. On Glassdoor, the current average salary for a front-end developer is $84,959, with $79,235 as base pay and the other $5,724 coming from bonuses.
Qualities of a great front-end developer
In broad terms, a great front-end developer possesses excellent communication and collaboration skills. Since front-end development connects design with back-end logic, it’s a job that necessitates effective teamwork.
Most importantly, great front-end developers are innately curious, lifelong learners, and possess exceptional problem solving skills. In terms of technology, nothing evolves more rapidly than the web. Great developers are constantly learning and exploring new tech and concepts to optimize their work. While most technologies are built using the languages mentioned above, there are countless frameworks and libraries that are central to many front-end developers’ workflows.
Some of these frameworks and libraries include:
- React, Vue, and AngularJS: Libraries for building complex component interfaces
- Tailwind and Bootstrap: Tools used to style web pages rapidly
- Node and Yarn: Package managers used to manage additional code modules necessary for a website
- Webpack and Parcel: Tools used to package and distribute websites and web applications
Finally, design sensibilities and familiarity with design tools go a long way in front-end development. While you won’t need to run out and look for the best web design courses, a good eye and comfort with design concepts are essential to success in this career. Since front-end developers work closely with designers, they sometimes need to meet the design team in the middle to help solve a problem. They may also have to hop into a design tool to extract the assets they need for their project.
The perfect job for creative thinkers
Front-end web development is an exceptionally rewarding career for technology lovers with a creative spirit and a penchant for approaching problems analytically. If this describes you, you should consider learning more about the fascinating and interconnected worlds of programming, graphic design, and product development. If you’re hiring, use our front-end developer job description template above to get started!
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