What Skills Do FrontEnd Web Developers Use?

Frontend web developers use three primary coding languages to code the website and web app designs created by web designers.

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript


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). A front end web developer is 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 frontend web 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 frontend 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, and you can create a lot of basic web applications using nothing more than HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (JS for short). On the most basic level, JS is used to create and control things like maps that update in real time, interactive films, and online games. Sites like Pinterest use JavaScript heavily to make their user interface 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 a front end web developer add ready-made elements to projects, 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 JavaScript 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.

Experience with CSS Preprocessors
Preprocessors are another element that a front end developer can use to speed up CSS coding. A CSS preprocessor adds extra functionality to CSS to keep our CSS scalable and easier to work with. It processes your code before you publish it to your website, and turns it into well-formatted and cross-browser friendly CSS. SASS and LESS are the two most in-demand preprocessors, according to real job listings.

Experience with RESTful Services and APIs
Without getting too technical on this one, REST stands for Representational State Transfer. In basic terms, it’s a lightweight architecture that simplifies network communication on the web, and RESTful services and APIs are those web services that adhere to REST architecture. Read more about REST and RESTful services here.

Let’s say you wanted to write an app that shows you all your social media friends in the order you became friends. You could make calls to Facebook’s RESTful API to read your friends list and return that data. The same thing with Twitter (which also uses RESTful APIs). The general process is the same for any service that uses RESTful APIs, just the data returned will be different.

While it all sounds really complicated and technical, it’s a simple set of guidelines and practices that set expectations so you know how to communicate with a web server. They also make a web server perform better, scale better, work more reliably, and be easier to modify or move

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