If you want to become a successful front end developer you will need to master certain skills. But with so many technologies and methods out there, which front end developer skills should you focus on? In this post I’ll tell you some of the timeless and some modern skills you will need to become a master of the front end!
Before we get into the skills we first need to understand why they are valuable, so let’s begin with a quick overview of what front end developers do in a professional setting.
Understanding the front end
Front end developers are responsible for what renders in the client side of an application. That is the short version we all know, but lets break this down into the components of a client side application (UI/UX, functionality, accessibility, compatibility and performance).
Think of User Experience and User Interfaces as data driven design. You want to understand how your users are going to interact with your application before designing and developing it, by knowing what the user will interact with the most and what his/hers goals are, you will be able to provide an interface that allows for a frustration free experience and users that keep coming back for more!
UI/UX design is a very deep subject as it involves science of behaviors and art. If you want to stimulate your brain artistically and yet have a calculated goal, this area is perfect for you.
Functionality is how the logic is being handled and features are being created, what happens when someone clicks on a button, starts typing or wants to format content themselves? Or what if your users would benefit from having a chart (or some other feature) on their dashboard so they can better consume data and content?
Being able to figure out the front end logic is essential to performance and it also adds to the UX, people expect things to work all the time and the best possible way on the web.
Part of functionality comes down to exploring existing libraries (including figuring out how to edit their code) in order to create more front end features on your app. For example, if you want a chart on your app, you can use recharts.
This topic is one of the most ignored by developers, we often forget about users with visual disabilities that also use the web. Being able to format your content in a way it is accessible for screen readers is essential to provide a consistent experience throughout all users.
Similar to accessibility, compatibility handles how your app renders on different platforms (browsers and devices). Compatibility comes down to being aware of which features certain browsers don’t work well with, and also, making your CSS responsive so your app looks and works as it should on devices of all sizes. Being able to write compatible code is one of the most important front end developer skills, give it priority when planning and developing your apps.
The final component of a client side application. Performance is not only about how well your app runs, it is also about making your code unburdensome, that means, making your code accommodating to changes made by you or possibly other developers in your team.
You app will run better if there aren’t any: redundant functions (repetitive/useless code), exaggerated assets (such as pictures that are way to large to load quickly) and bad logic.
Making your code reusable and readable is also part of this component. Performance is also related to the efficiency in which the app is developed, and making your code compatible with other developers is essential to troubleshooting issues and implementing different/better features. This way, you will always end up with a great app.
It doesn’t matter which area of the front end you will want to focus, here are some skills and technologies EVERY front end developer should know:
Must-have front end developer skills for a successful career:
- Git and version control
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
- Responsive Design
- CSS Preprocessing such as Sass or Less
- At least ONE of these: React.js / Angular.js / Vue.js
If you want a learning strategy for front end web developers, check out this post I made on how to learn front end in 3 months with free resources.