What is the role of front-end developers?


Every organization needs a website. How that website looks and behaves can in many cases make or break your entire business.

And with a constantly evolving digital landscape, it’s vital to secure the software development services that can translate your vision to the online sphere. They must do so, of course, while staying abreast of trends in web development and advising you on the technical practicalities of your ideas.

Whether you employ in-house personnel or turn to software development outsourcing to make your website or application a reality, developers are the foundation of your team. If you’re not a techie, the terminology may sound foreign. What does a front-end developer do? What skills does one need? Keep reading to learn about this the role — the one that will bring your idea to fruition.

What’s the role of a front-end developer?

The role of the front-end developer is to create the client-facing aspects of a website or application. It’s someone who builds features that engage the user and encourage her to interact with it, making it attractive, appealing, usable, and functional.

A front-end developer works with the aspects of a website or app that a user can see and control, such as clickable features, navigation tools, and the entire layout. This is in contrast to a back-end developer, who works on the infrastructure and behind-the-scenes features that facilitate the front-end — the part the user can’t see.

Other key responsibilities of a front-end developer may include:

  • Website maintenance
  • Performance monitoring
  • Website improvements
  • Usability testing
  • Speed optimization
  • Mobile- and web-compatible design
  • User experience optimization
  • Collaboration with back-end developers

What skills should a front-end developer have?

1. Coding languages

Coding is a fundamental skill for front-end developers. In fact, nearly all software development providers should know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

HTML and CSS are used for building and formatting the design of your website. JavaScript allows the developer to make it interactive by adding features such as zooming, clickable buttons, games, and more. JavaScript can be augmented by tools such as JQuery, a library of plugins to enhance and better facilitate the use of the language.

2. Frameworks

Working within a framework — a customizable platform that offers shortcuts and enhances performance — is a separate skill from knowing coding languages, and a developer needs to have both. Most likely, the software development companies will have a preferred framework.

Common JavaScript frameworks include AngularJS, Backbone, Vue.js, Ember, and ReactJS, while Bootstrap, Materialize, and Semantic-UI are some choices frameworks for CSS.

3. Preprocessors

CSS preprocessors can greatly speed up a website or app’s development by processing code before the developer publishes it and translating it into readable, cross-browser friendly CSS. It also scales your changes, applying them uniformly throughout the website for a specific piece of code. Examples include Sass, Stylus, and Less.

4. Responsive design

Front-end developers must be knowledgeable about responsive design. This means the layout changes based on the device being used, making it more accessible and user-friendly depending on the size, shape, and functionality of the screen. For example, a website with a more elaborate horizontal layout on a desktop screen might appear in a straight column on a mobile device.

5. Testing

Ideally, the software development services you use will have a dedicated QA tester, or you’ll employ a separate team to handle that process. However, a front-end developer should still be versed in testing and debugging, because it will facilitate a smoother development process before the project even reaches the QA team’s hands.

For example, through unit testing, the developer assesses blocks of source code to determine whether they are functioning correctly.

6. Git and version control

Through version control, the developer can keep track of code changes she’s made and restore previous versions. This can save her time and effort since she won’t have to redo work if a change she’s implemented isn’t working — she can simply revert back to the older version. Git is the most commonly used version control system available.

7. Soft skills

Development isn’t all about technical skills. The work often happens in a team, with different members responsible for different aspects of the project. The front-end developer, of course, will create the layout and user-facing aspects of the product, but she must also work closely with the back-end developer, QA developer, project manager, and other members of the software development services team. This requires collaboration and teamwork.

Of course, problem-solving is another important skill developers, even solo ones, need to have in order to find creative solutions to issues, such as errors or functionality glitches, that crop up.

These are basic skills a front-end developer should have, but they’re just a starting point. Of course, depending on your needs, you may want software development providers with additional skills. For example, if your website needs some graphic design, choose a developer with experience using Adobe Suite.

In the case of outsourcing of software development, you can make certain skills requirements as you choose the best services for the project. Still, you should start with this list to make sure the services you choose meet the minimum requirements to do the job well — and that you know you can work together to bring the project to completion.