What is a Front-End Developer?
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A front-end developer is a web developer that codes the front end of a website. While web design is the way a website looks, front end development is how that design actually gets implemented on the web.
The pages of the internet are a sum of layers—structure, data, design, content, and functionality. The web would be a dust bowl of HTML and "Under Construction" GIFs without front-end developers taking the backend data and creating a user-facing functionality. By integrating markup languages, design, scripts and frameworks, front-end developers create the environment for everything that users see, click, and touch.
What does a Front-End Developer do?
Everything a user sees, clicks, or uses to input or retrieve information on a website is the work of a front-end developer. This takes being both creative and tech-savvy. Their focus is on user experience, and the technology they implement hinges on how well it will accomplish that efficiency, speed, and smooth functionality. They also make sure that there are no errors or bugs on the front end, and that the design appears as it’s supposed to across various platforms and browsers.
Typically, a front-end developer’s responsibilities include:
- Prioritizing user experience
- Production and maintenance of websites and web application user interfaces
- Creating tools that enhance interaction with the site in any browser
- Implementing design for mobile sites
- Maintaining software workflow management
- Looking at SEO best practices
- Testing the site for usability and fixing any bugs
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What is the workplace of a Front-End Developer like?
Decent salaries, high demand, job security, and plenty of options for mobility are just some of the perks that come with a career in front-end web development. Employers look for problem solvers, not just people who can code, but people who can sit down with visual and user experience designers to solve major challenges.
Front-end development is a pretty flexible field in terms of where and when it can get done. The amount of freelance work available tends to be just as plentiful as full-time openings.
Front-end developers can choose between a large number of tools to do their work, but these typically fall into two categories: graphical design tools, and code editors.
Graphical design tools are useful for building a prototype of the application, experimenting with the user interface, and creating the final design. Depending on the size of the team, the front-end developer may be more or less responsible for the graphical elements of the application. Regardless of the size of the team, however, front-end developers will likely find themselves using at the very minimum several prototyping tools. These tools can range from a pad of paper and pencil, to dedicated prototyping tools like Balsamiq Mockups, to full graphical editors like Photoshop or Sketch. Front-end developers who are responsible for more of the graphical elements of the application will find themselves using full graphical editing tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, or Figma far more often.
There are a range of code editors, ranging from incredibly lightweight editors like Notepad all the way up to feature-heavy 'integrated development editors' (IDEs) like Eclipse or Visual Studio. Some of the more complicated editors - such as emacs or vim - can take months to master, and can even lead to fierce loyalty by their users. A developer's code editor is a highly personal choice, and there is no one perfect solution; most developers will experiment with several code editors before settling on one.
Almost all development takes place on a computer, so a front-end developer will likely put a lot of thought into their chosen machine. Very few other tools are required, although some front-end developers may chose to surround themselves with notepads and whiteboards.
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Opinion: What Makes a Great Front-End Developer
How do you measure the skill-set and experience of a true Front-end Developer? Are they specific to the front-end? Or should they maintain and nurture the skills required to understand important back-end functionality as well? That’s what I’m here to discuss, so let’s get into it!