10 frontend developer skills the market wants right now
Are you looking to hire a frontend developer and want to know how to tell whether you’re facing a great candidate? Want to know what frontend developer skills should be?
Or maybe you’re interested in becoming a frontend developer and are wondering which skills you need to upgrade your professional life?
In either case, this article is for you. Read on to find out the key skills frontend developers need and learn more about the particulars of this role in the software development process.
Who is a frontend developer?
Frontend developers are responsible for building all of the visible parts of applications and websites. In other others, they create the user interface (UI), the elements that users see and they also determine how applications or websites behave based on the user actions.
What is the difference between frontend and backend developers?
In the old days, frontend programmers focused only on how software solutions looked or behaved. Nowadays this is a little more complicated, because some tasks can or should be performed on the frontend without sending unnecessary requests to the backend. Backend technologies are mainly responsible for database management, site security, performance and other functionalities.
For example, if you want to build a website for your business, a frontend developer will be the one to create the theme, style, images, visual hierarchy, presentation and navigation through the pages.
Since frontend developers work on the appearance and user interface of applications and websites, they not only need programming skills – they should also know how to use design tools such as Sketch, Sigma, or Photoshop.
Backend developers need critical thinking skills because they’re involved in designing systems, planning software architecture, and translating the business logic into solutions. They also need to take care of aspects like the database to ensure that user data is stored securely.
Which frontend developer skills are currently desired?
If you’re looking to enter the tech industry, frontend development is one of the easiest entry points. However, to become a frontend developer, you will need specific skills. Here are the must-have frontend development skills the market wants today.
Technical frontend developer skills:
The good news for frontend developers is that they don’t need to write every functionality from scratch. For example, logging in to a website or search bar on a blog are popular functionalities, and you will find components for them in these frameworks.
3. CSS preprocessors
While the knowledge of CSS is essential, the language can sometimes turn out to be confusing. Once your project grows in scale and codebase, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time on writing repetitive code, messing around with bad files structure or understanding what “cascade” in CSS shortcut really stands for when you create a few class names with the same name by accident.
This is where CSS preprocessing comes in. It’s basically another way to make your life easier. CSS preprocessors like SASS, LESS, or Stylus allow developers to write code in the preprocessor’s language. That way, you can achieve all of the things that would have been much more problematic with plain old CSS. The preprocessor will convert the code to CSS to ensure that it works on your website.
Here’s how it works in practice:
Let’s say that you decide to change the shade of red you use across your entire website. By using a CSS preprocessor, you only have to change the hex value in one place instead of going through all of your CSS code and change the hex values all over the place or when you have a block of CSS properties that you want to use in few classes, but it would be messy to duplicate this code and make css file larger and larger. This is where @mixins and @include came in. Those variables let you declare some code as a variable in one place and use it by just calling this variable all over the files.
4. Version control and other developer tools
Let’s not forget that a frontend developer will be part of a development team. That’s why it’s essential that he or she knows how to use the most software development tools.
The work of a frontend developer is complicated, and it’s very likely that you will go through a number of revisions in your development process. If something goes wrong along the way, you wouldn’t want to be forced to start over from the beginning. This is where version control comes in.
Version control is the process of tracking and controlling changes in your source code, so this scenario never happens. Developers use different version control software. One of the most popular ones is Git, an open-source tool that tracks the changes for you so that you can go back to previous versions of your work and find out what went wrong, without tearing the entire codebase apart.
5. Responsive design
The days when users would access a web application using only one device are long gone. Consumers now use multiple devices, many of them mobile like smartphones or tablets.
When it comes to web development, it’s essential that frontend developers are aware of that and know the basics of responsive design. When designing a website, you need to make sure that its pages will adjust themselves to the device of your users.
Understanding the principles of responsive design and the ways to implement them in your code is essential today. Note that responsive design is an intrinsic element of CSS frameworks like Bootstrap but remember, nothing stops you from writing your very own responsive CSS rules.
There is no way for a software development process to be bug-free. To keep things going in the right direction, you will have to test your codebase for bugs on the way. That’s why the ability to test and debug is another important technical skill a frontend developer should have.
There are several kinds of tests used in software development. For example, functional testing examines a particular piece of functionality to make sure that it does exactly what you coded it to do. Unit testing, on the other hand, focuses on testing the smallest bits of code that are responsible for one thing in your application. Frameworks like Mocha or Jasmine help developers to speed up and simplify the testing process.
7. Web performance/building and automation tools
It doesn’t matter if you created an amazing website if it performs slowly on the user’s end. Today, consumers are merciless, and if they have to wait more than a few seconds for a website load, they are likely to abandon it.
That’s why smart frontend developers know how to improve web performance by optimizing images or removing all the unnecessary characters from their code without changing its functionality.
To avoid spending too much time on boosting web performance, frontend developers use building and automation tools such as Grunt or gulp. These tools come in handy for automating image optimization and many other web performance chores.
Frontend developer skills – “soft ones”
Since frontend developers are responsible for how websites and applications look, they need to be creative and come up with new solutions to the most common user interface problems. They should be able to combine known elements with new solutions.
Naturally, it helps if frontend developers have an open mind and a lot of willingness to learn new things. Just like in any other area of software development, frontend development trends and technologies are constantly changing. That’s why it’s essential for frontend developers to keep up with the development and provide as much value as possible to their projects.
9. Communication skills
Frontend developers need to be good communicators because they are right in the middle of the software development process together with UI/UX designers and backend developers. Having high social skills is a necessity in frontend developer skills.
If a team follows an agile software development methodology like Scrum, most of the time communication is facilitated by the process itself. However, effective communication skills are critical for working with other people. That’s why frontend developers should be able to clearly communicate what they have in mind and write the clear documentation their team members will appreciate.
This point continues the one mentioned above. Needless to say, frontend developers need to be skilled collaborators. Since teamwork is part of a frontend developer’s everyday life – even if you end up becoming a freelance software developer! – you will have to communicate well with the client and work with the entire project team.
It’s essential that frontend developers know how to support other people, ask for advice when needed, optimize the workflow, and deliver the end product quickly.
Frontend developer skills – conclusion
Naturally, this list of critical frontend development skills is far from complete. After all, the unique skills required from a frontend developer will closely depend on the project and its requirements.
However, if you’d like to jumpstart your career in the frontend development world, you will need the skills we mentioned above.
Are you looking for more insights into the changing technology landscape and career-building? Be sure to explore our company blog. Our team members share their expertise and experience to help beginner developers clarify their career trajectory and gain the skills they need to succeed in this exciting field.