Have you ever looked at your favorite website and wondered exactly what made it tick? Have you looked at the way it was laid out, the way the buttons acted when you clicked them, or any other part and thought, “I wonder how complicated that is?” or, “I wish I could do that”?

All of those things are front end development. While web design is the way a website looks, front end development is how that design actually gets implemented on the web.

Front end developers use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to code the website and web app designs created by web designers. The code they write runs inside the user’s browser (as opposed to a back end developer, whose code runs on the web server). Think of it a little like this: the back end developer is like the engineer who designs and creates the systems that make a city work (electricity, water and sewer, zoning, etc.), while the front end developer is the one who lays out the streets and makes sure everything is connected properly so people can live their lives (a simplified analogy, but you get the rough idea). They’re also in charge of making sure that there are no errors or bugs on the front end, as well as making sure that the design appears as it’s supposed to across various platforms and browsers.

I’ve combed through dozens of front end developer job listings to see which skills are the most in-demand right now. These are the things that real employers are looking for in job applicants today (and will still be looking for in the near future). Master these things and you’re certain to land an awesome front end dev job!

HTML & CSS

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are the most basic building blocks of web coding. Without these two things, you can’t create a website design, and all you’ll end up with is unformatted plain text on the screen. You can’t even add images to a page without HTML!

Before you get started on any web development career path, you’ll have to master coding with HTML and CSS. The good news is that getting a solid working knowledge of either of these can be done in just a few weeks.

The best part: HTML and CSS knowledge alone will let you build basic websites.

JavaScript

JavaScript lets you add a ton more functionality to your websites. You can even create a lot of basic web applications using nothing more than HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (JS for short). On the most basic level, JS lets you add a lot of interactive elements to your websites. Use it to create things like maps that update in real time, interactive films, and online games. Sites like Pinterest use JavaScript heavily to make their user interface so easy to use (the fact that the page doesn’t reload whenever you pin something is thanks to JavaScript!).

It’s also the most popular programming language in the world, so regardless of your dev career plans, it’s a super valuable thing to learn.

jQuery

jQuery is a JavaScript library: a collection of plugins and extensions that makes developing with JavaScript faster and easier. Rather than having to code everything from scratch, jQuery lets you add ready-made elements to your projects, that you can then customize as necessary (one reason why knowing JavaScript is so important). You can use jQuery for things like countdown timers, search form autocomplete, and even automatically-rearranging and resizing grid layouts.

JavaScript Frameworks

JS frameworks (including AngularJS, Backbone, Ember, and ReactJS) give a ready-made structure to your JavaScript code. There are different types of frameworks for different needs, though the four mentioned are the most popular in actual job listings. These frameworks really speed up development by giving you a jumpstart, and can be used with libraries like jQuery to minimize how much from-scratch coding you have to do.

Front End Frameworks

CSS and front end frameworks (the most popular front end framework is Bootstrap) do for CSS what JS Frameworks do for JavaScript: they give you a jumping-off point for faster coding. Since so much CSS starts with exactly the same elements from project to project, a framework that defines all of these for you upfront is super valuable. Most front end developer job listings expect you to be familiar with how these frameworks work and how to use them.

Responsive and Mobile Design

Responsive and mobile design skills are super important to employers. Responsive design means that the site’s layout (and sometimes functionality and content) change based on the screen size and device someone is using.

For example, when a website is visited from a desktop computer with a big monitor, a user would get multiple columns, big graphics, and interaction created specifically for mouse and keyboard users. On a mobile device, the same website would appear as a single column optimized for touch interaction, but using the same base files.

Mobile design can include responsive design, but also includes creating separate mobile-specific designs. Sometimes the experience you want a user to have when visiting your site on a desktop computer is entirely different than what you want them to see when visiting from their smartphone, and in those cases it makes sense for the mobile site to be completely different. A bank website with online banking, for example, would benefit from a separate mobile site that lets users view things like the closest bank location and a simplified account view (since mobile screens are smaller).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here