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Frontend developers – What do we do?

Frontend developers have become one of the most popular career in the digital age. In my previous post frontend vs backend vs fullstack developers, we discussed about the difference between them. Now let us dig deeper into what exactly frontend developers do.

Tl; dr;

A front-end developer uses the knowledge of html, css and javascript to create an user interface for a website or application so that a user can comfortably interact and use a service with ease. The sole purpose of a front-end developer is to make sure the users can access the webpage in a format that they can easily read and understand.

A bit of historical context

In 1997, with the expansion of the Internet and the ease of connectivity, the web stopped being a place that only engineers entered to read materials on university servers. It became a more visual and competitive place. Which is why they emerged programs like Dreamweaver (Macromedia at the time) to facilitate the implementation of websites. In these editors you could work with images to take care of the visual aspect, the developer only had to drag and drop the image in the place where he/she needed it.

At present we can still find these visual editors and even in web version. For example, in the cloud there are many applications that allow you to create your site with just drag and drop. So far so good if you need a basic website, but when you need something tailored, things get a little more complicated.

Frontend development

Frontend development skills

Freelancer map – Career insights (2019)

A Front-end developer is like a masked hero who has a unique mission: to communicate a message. We make the web pages to have a harmonic distribution of the elements on the screen so you can locate quickly when browsing. In addition, we must take care of their aesthetics so that you, as a user, say: “Wow! What a beautiful website!”

And without so much adornment: a Frontend developer is the person who develops all the visual elements of a website with which a user interacts. To achieve this, this hero should have a “mix” of skills. On one hand, we need to know how to organize the elements on screen to please the eyes. And on the other, we must know markup languages, styles and programming: HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, among others.

“To be or not to be”: the midpoint between the designer and the engineer

To the Frontend we have to know everything a bit, from managing design programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator, to understanding specific topics such as SEO. We also need to be aware of the latest trends in design and update on advances on code writing.

With the emergence of new technologies, new challenges also emerge, because now with the increase in the development and acquisition of mobile devices, there are different types of resolutions and screen sizes, which forces the developer to make a specialized development for a user can access without any problem of visualization and/or navigation to the site you are designing. That is why it is important that the Frontend developers also learn to make tests in different resolutions and browsers.

We ensure that your website looks like this

good website

and not like this

bad website

But then, are Front-end designers?

It is not necessary to be a designer to be a good Frontend developer. But if you are, that would be much better! Since the designers have an ingrained visual and aesthetic formation which will help to take care of even the smallest detail of the final product.

Besides being Frontend developer  and designer, you can make the designs of the pages yourself and program them, which translates into better income and a resume more desired by the market. If you reach a good level in design and development companies will fight for you, or why not? You can even create your own company and be independent.

Things Front-end developers should know.

If you want to be a good Front, having knowledge about this will help you:

Languages

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language): is a markup language interpreted by web browsers, that is, the skeleton of all websites. Its newest version is HTML5, which contains semantic tags to write clean code and has advantages as native support for audio and video.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): is the language that controls the appearance of the site, that is, with which we will give our HTML the visual style, defining colours, sizes, fonts and even mouse events. Its latest version is CSS3, which supports animations, shadows, curves among other things.
  • Javascript: is a programming language that runs on the client side (in the browser) and in most cases is used to make a website interactive.
  • PHP (acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor): (optional) It is a programming language that runs on the server. This means that a server can use PHP to run some logic and return data. By using PHP, we can create dynamic and manageable websites. It is also the language used by many Content Management System(CMS) like WordPress.
  • Other backend programming languages: some examples are Node.js, Python, .NET, Java, etc.

Skills

  • Accessibility: refers to the correct display of a website on all devices. It is relative to the concept of ‘Responsive web design’ that is achieved by adding CSS Media Queries that respond to the width of the screen or viewport.
  • Usability: refers to the relationship between the user and the ease with which he manages to navigate the site.
  • Performance: for our website to be competitive it must load fast, because if users notice a low performance in load times, they will surely leave the website.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It refers to the proper indexing that search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.. The making of a website to rank well in the search results. This is achieved through meta tags, titles and the correct use of keywords.

Summary

In this article we talked about what we do as a front-end developer, the historical background of front-end development. We went further to discuss the grey points between front-end development and designers.

To survive in this ever evolving profession, we need to keep improving ourselves via various methods.  Reading a lot, updating, studying and above all sharing our knowledge just to name a few.

By Tuan Nguyen

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