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Essential Skills Required to Become a Front End Developer


In this internet age you must be visiting many websites every day and you must have found some websites which looked and worked fabulous for you and you liked them the most. But have you ever thought how they were made? Have you looked at them the way they were laid out, the way you got response when you clicked at any of the button or link or any other related thought? You must have thought, “How to do that in your website?” These kind of things come under front end development. Web design is the way how a website looks while front end development is how that design is actually implemented on the web. Now you come to the point. A front end web developer is the developer who does that implementation.

Front end web developer generally uses CSS, HTML and JavaScript to code the website and web apps designs created by web designers. The code they write runs inside the user’s web browser which is different from a back end developer, whose code runs on the web server itself. A front end web developer also makes sure that there are no errors or bugs on the front end and also that the design appears as it should be across various web browsers and platforms. Due to their so much important role in the work of web development, front end developers are in great demand. But to become a front end developer, the developer needs to have certain skills which are the must. Many of you now might have already decided to make a career in this field but still you need an overview of the skills you will need for front end development as it will make your task bit easier.

If you search job requirements of front end developer mostly they ask for HTML, CSS and JavaScript but at some places you can also read about version control, preprocessing platforms, frameworks and more. Therefore, to make you familiar to all of the required skills of front end developer, here is the essential skills every front end developer should possess.

Essential Skills of Front End Developers


All of the job requirements of front end developer for the work of Front End Development require proficiency in these languages. It is a must. HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages. A markup languages enable you to write code for a digital document or web page which is different from a regular text. It is the most basic building block you will need for developing websites of any kind. CSS is the language used to present the document you create with HTML so that it is readable and attractive. HTML is responsible for creating the foundation for your pages while CSS has the next job and it is used to create the page’s color, fonts, layout and the style. As we said both of these languages are essential to become a front end developer and without the knowledge of these, no developer can become a front end developer. It is as simple as that.


Next most important technology for a front end developer is JavaScript or JS. HTML and CSS are markup and style sheet language respectively while JS is the first proper programming language which the front end developer has to master. HTML and CSS work for the presentation of the page whereas JS works for its logic and function. Although there are many simple websites out there on internet for which HTML and CSS are enough but also there are so many functional websites which have interactive features like audio and videos, games, pages animations, scrolling abilities – for which JavaScript is used to implement these.


jQuery is basically a JavaScript library i.e. a collection of plugins and extensions which makes the development work with JavaScript much faster and easier. If you use jQuery, then you don’t need to code everything from scratch as jQuery enables a front end developer to add ready-made elements to projects and you can customize them as required. jQuery helps in doing common tasks which require many lines of code and compresses them into a format that can be executed with a single line of code. Front end developers can also use jQuery for things like autocompletion of the search form, countdown timers, automatically rearranging and resizing grid layouts in the websites. Use of jQuery saves lots of time of the developers.

Front End Frameworks

The most popular front end framework is Bootstrap which you must have heard of. CSS and front end frameworks also work similar to how JS Framework work for JavaScript i.e. they give you a ready-made code from where you can start coding. Hence they can save lots of the time of the front end developers. As most of the CSS starts with the same elements from project to project, a framework which defines all of these for you at the start is highly useful. Most of the front end developer job listings want you to be expert in how these frameworks work and how you can use them in your project.

JavaScript Frameworks

There are many JavaScript frameworks available in the market like Angular, ReactJS, Backbone and Ember. They provide a ready-made structure to your JavaScript code. There are many types of frameworks for different kind of requirements and the four mentioned above are the most famous and most sought after by most of the employers.  These frameworks speed up the development by providing you lots of useful code from where you can start coding. They can also be used with libraries like jQuery to minimize your coding efforts.

Knowledge of CSS Preprocessing

Knowledge of CSS Preprocessing is highly useful for the front end developer while developing a website. Although CSS has many benefits but it also has limitations and one of them is that you have to write similar lines of code so many times for the whole website. Hence when your project grows in scale and code base, keeping in mind that in CSS you can’t define variables, functions or perform arithmetic operations, you will find yourself wasting lots of your time in writing repetitive code to make changes. Similar to CSS and JS frameworks, CSS preprocessing is another thing which can make life of a front end developer much easier. Using a CSS preprocessor like Stylus, Sass, LESS, you will be able to write code in the preprocessor’s language. The preprocessor then converts that code into CSS and it will work on your whole website. For example, assume you want to change the shade of a color you are using across your website. With a CSS preprocessor, you will only have to change the hex value at one place only instead of changing the hex values on all the CSS pages of the site.

Knowledge of RESTful Services and APIs

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. Actually it is a lightweight architecture which simplifies network communication on the web and internet and RESTful services and APIs are those web services which adhere to REST architecture. You should read about REST and RESTful services in more detail if you want to become an expert front end developer. Take an example, say you want to write an application which shows you all of your social media friends in the order as you became friends with them. You can make calls to Facebook’s RESTful API to read your friend list and return that data. You can do same thing with Twitter which also uses RESTful APIs. Actually the process for any service that uses RESTful APIs is the same and only the data returned will be different. The front end developers should become expert in using these. There are simple guidelines and practices to use them and you can learn how to communicate with a web service. They also make a web service to perform better, work more reliably, be easier to edit/modify and scale better and easier.

Responsive Design and Mobile Design

The days of only desktop and laptop PCs being used for viewing websites are gone. Now more than half of the internet traffic originates through mobile devices and smartphones. That means most of the people now use phones and tablets and rest use computers to look at the web pages. Have you ever thought how these pages adjust themselves to the device you are using without you doing anything at your end? This is where responsive design comes into picture. A front end developers have to fully understand the responsive design principles and how to implement them while coding for the website. One good thing about responsive design is that it is an integral part of CSS frameworks like Bootstrap. All of these skills are interconnected and you will learn them quickly when you start with any one of them while doing front end development.

Knowledge of Content Management Systems and E-commerce Platforms

Nowadays most of the websites which are built use content management system i.e. CMS. Large number of them also use E-commerce platforms and they sell their products and services through the site. The most popular CMS right now in the world is no doubt WordPress which is behind the millions of successful websites. Reports says that more than 30% of all the websites on internet have been built using WordPress alone and almost 60% of websites that use a CMS prefer to use WordPress only. Some of the other most popular CMSs are Drupal, Joomla and Magento. Magento is basically a most popular E-commerce platform along with Shopify and OpenCart. Although you don’t need to go very deep into WordPress and these other CMS but knowing bit about these will give you a niche and you will be preferred by the companies who are using these or planning to use these CMS into their websites.

Version Control Systems – Git

Assume you have done all the work of marking up with HTML, Styling with CSS and programming with JS. In this process you must have gone through a number of revisions in your development and software code. Now if something goes wrong along the way, you will have to start all over from the beginning. Therefore, here comes the Version control software into the picture. Version control is the process of tracking and controlling changes to your source code hence this kind of problem will not happen with you. Git is an open source Version Control Software recently bought by Microsoft. It is a tool you can use to track those changes so that you can go back to any previous version of your work and find out easily what went wrong without undoing the whole thing from the start. The working knowledge of Git – Version control software is a skill which most of the employers want to have in their front end developers or even in other developers.

Read More: List of Most Popular JavaScript Frameworks You Should Know

Testing and Debugging

Any developer even a front end developer can do mistakes. Hence bugs can come in the code they write. Therefore, having knowledge and experience in testing and debugging processes is very important for a front end developer. There are different testing methods for web development. Like Functional testing looks at the functional aspect of your website like a database and makes sure it does everything which you have coded it to do. It is also called UI testing, acceptance testing, browser testing or functional testing where you check to make sure that the website behaves and works as it should be when a user is taking actions on the website. You can write tests which will look for outcomes like particular HTML code on a page after an action is taken for example making sure that if a user forgets to fill out the essential fields in a form, error message pops up for the user. Unit testing is the process of testing individual or small blocks of source code and unit testing frameworks provide a specific method and structure for doing so. For each programming language they are different.
Debugging process is very important as it takes all the bugs and errors which testing uncovers, analyzes them to find out why and how they are happening and finally fixing them. Testing and debugging processes are implemented differently in different organizations but if you have worked on it somewhere then you can easily adapt to it at other place. Hence front end developer should have working knowledge of testing and debugging processes.

Problem Solving Skills

Good front end developers should have excellent problem solving skills whatever the job descriptions say. The have to use them number of times while writing code for the website. For example, they need the creative problem solving skills while figuring out how to best implement a design, how to fix bugs that come, how to figure out how to make your front end code work with the backend code and in most of their development and coding tasks. Hence front end developers should have great problem solving skills. For example, you have created a perfectly working website front end and you hand it over to the back end developers so that they can integrate it with the CMS of the website. Imagine, somehow many of your amazing features stop working. A top front end developer will view this as a problem which has to be solved rather than a thing to be highly disappointed about. Although an experienced front end developer will anticipate these bugs early and will try to avoid them in the first place itself so that he doesn’t need to spend time on resolving them afterwards.

Browser Developer Tools

Most of the users will access your website through a web browser. Hence how these web browsers render your website will decide whether your website will be a success or not. Most of the modern web browsers come equipped with developer tools. These tools allow developers to test and fine tune the site pages in the browser itself i.e. in ways specific to how the browser interprets your source code. Things may vary from browser to browser but browser developer tools normally have an inspector and a JavaScript console. The inspector allows you to see what the runtime HTML on your page looks like, how CSS is behaving with each element on the page and also allows you to edit your HTML and CSS and see the changes fully live as they occur. This JS console allows you to view all of the errors and bugs that occur when the browser tries to execute the JavaScript code. Therefore, it is desirable for front end developers to have the working knowledge of browser develop tools.

Knowledge of How to Work in Command Line

Nowadays, almost all applications or software that come to the market have Graphic User Interface i.e. GUI as no one wants to type lines of difficult commands onto a black screen in order to get the things done. It is more easier to point and click on a white background screen having interactive menu. Even in the field of website development, GUI are highly preferred. But an all-purpose GUI may have some limitations for some specific applications. There can be times when you would need to open a terminal on your computer where you have to enter commands to get things done. There is a difference when your computer is giving results which are available on the surface and when you get what you need by digging in with specific commands. Although most of your front end development work you can do using GUIs but you will be highly preferred and sought after if your front end development skills also have a mastery of how to use command line.

Read Also: Key Advantages of Hybrid Mobile App Development

Final Note

We have just discussed most of the essential skills required to become a good front end developer. We have discussed how other than just the knowledge of how to program in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, additional knowledge of working in frameworks, testing, debugging and Git can add more feathers to your front end developer profile which companies are looking for. Also a good front end developer should also have excellent problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills so that he can become a good team player as most of the times so many developers of different technical backgrounds work together in a team to complete a website development project.

About Author
Aman Malhotra
Aman Malhotra

Aman is a business consultant and strategic leader bridging the gap between technology and client satisfaction. With 15+ years of knowledge, innovation and hands-on experience in providing consultations to startups, agencies, SME's and large enterprises who need dedicated development and technology partners. He has also lead to the delivery of countless web development and mobile app development projects with 100% client satisfaction.

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