11 Front End Developer Skills You Need to Get Hired in 2020
Think about one of your favorite websites. Maybe it has exceptional functionality, or perhaps you love it for its aesthetic characteristics. The joy and ease you experience on that website are largely thanks to the fruits of a front end developer’s labor.
There are different types of web developers, all of whom participate in the coding, analysis, and maintenance of the websites and applications that drive businesses and organizations, from nonprofits to major e-commerce projects. While a back end developer might build the infrastructure that enables a website to handle queries, data requests, and innovative search structures, a front end developer makes all of that accessible and convenient for the site’s users. The front end developer skill set, in particular, focuses on the user environment and experience.
As companies have shifted more of their attention online, the demand for front end development skills in the job market has grown swiftly. The reason is simple: those skills are instrumental to a wide range of web-related jobs, including app development, web integration, and web design. Because customers want to access websites and apps that are fast, responsive, and easy to use, businesses in almost every industry — from healthcare to education to financial services — seek out great front end developers who can make their user experience a winning one.
While front end developers are often involved in site and app design, they are really programmers at heart. Practical experience matters, but some type of formal training is also essential to landing the programming chops and front end developer skill set necessary to create a great user experience.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science offers a strong foundation, but many programmers choose to build up their front end developer skills by attending a coding boot camp. These boot camps provide specialized programs of instruction that include programming skills and introductions to a wide range of languages and libraries, and they typically offer a faster track for acquiring the necessary skills to get career-ready.
In either case, there’s no avoiding the obvious: you will need a specific front end developer skill set to succeed in your new career. Below are some of the most important technical skills that you should learn if you plan to excel in front end development.
4. DOM Manipulation
The Document Object Model (DOM) provides a programming interface for any document on the web. It represents the structure and the content of any web document, including its styles and HTML sections.
Many technologies used in front end web development build on the basics of DOM manipulation to change what users see to reflect their preferences and needs. Your users aren’t one-size-fits-all, so DOM manipulation allows you to create web experiences that are personalized and responsive.
This data format is designed to be used by a wide array of programming languages and to pass information easily between users and your website, whether that data will be stored or further processed. JSON is essential for any site where you need to transfer information between your users and the website’s back end.
Many of the most popular social media sites that drive web traffic today, like Facebook and Twitter, rely on simple AJAX-based interactions to show more content and updated information as users scroll up and down through their timelines. In most cases, AJAX is so firmly woven into the framework of popular websites that it illustrates how most users expect their sites to work: proactively and without requiring extra effort.
Node.js is one of the most popular technologies used in back end web development, but its uses aren’t limited to back end developers. While Node.js provides an excellent framework for writing applications, it also offers useful minimalism and speed that can empower an exceptional user experience.
MySQL is a popular system that manages the database structures that websites use to organize their information. Content management systems like WordPress, for example, often rely on a MySQL database to store and relay information to users, including all of the posts, articles, and user data on the website.
Though there are several database options available to front end developers, MySQL — developed and supported by Oracle — is one of the most popular open-source relational database management systems used across the web. As a relational database, MySQL uses an array of tables to define and organize information while retaining a clear record of its connections and relationships.
MySQL is primarily a back end developer tool because it is often part of the foundation on which back end developers construct the user experience. However, interaction with the back end database is one of the most important responsibilities for any front end developer. When you write an app for use on the front end, it is built on the structure that stores, retrieves, edits, and saves data. Every search and user login on the front end of your website may well involve interacting with the MySQL database, so you need to know and understand how the database works and how best to interact with it to deliver a smooth, seamless user experience.
React is particularly helpful for developing applications that live on the web but work like full-featured desktop programs. Consider advanced webmail programs like Gmail or mapping software like Google Maps. These load within one single webpage but are continually changing for instant interaction and feedback. Websites that offer single-page applications often rely on React for a smooth user experience and fast, seamless responses.
The second reason for Java’s popularity is its design. Java is an object-oriented programming language, which means that it uses programming “objects” to represent and define behavior for both real-world objects and abstract concepts. Doug Lowe and Barry Burd provide an example in “Java for Dummies”: “Suppose you’re writing a payroll program. This program needs objects to represent the company’s employees. So, the program includes a class (probably named Employee) that defines the data and methods for each Employee object. Then, when your program runs, it uses this class to create an object for each of your company’s employees.” By creating an “object”, Java developers can thus define payroll activity for each employee.
It’s an undeniably useful skill for both back end and front end developers alike.
Luckily, you already have practice solving problems, whether at home, school, or work. With a little effort, these experiences in other arenas can translate over into your efforts as a front end developer. Whether you’re getting your bachelor’s in computer science or attending a coding boot camp, your ingenuity and willingness to tackle problems will help you in your explorations as a front end developer.
You’ll need the technical skills mentioned above for your career, but the foundations of front end development are much more universal: endless curiosity, a willingness to experiment, and critical thinking. Whether you’re just starting or want to expand your career options, front end development holds boundless possibilities for aspiring programmers.
It’s almost impossible to imagine today’s world without the web, which indicates just how vital front end developers are to the business and social worlds we interact with every day — from shopping on Amazon to catching up with friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Explore your educational options, and you, too, can open the door to this growing, challenging field.