What is Front-End Web Development? Everything You Need to Know

As business strategists and project managers scramble to create seamless user experiences (UX) and user interfaces (UI), front end web development teams have never been more crucial than before.

By constructing compelling front end interfaces and final products, businesses can better tap into the psychology of attracting consumers and future clients.

In this article, you’ll be fully equipped to harness front end web development teams to reinforce the quality of future projects. Stay with us and know more about it!

What is Front-End Web Development?

You know, when we browsed website homepages, blogs, and online publications in the early 2000s, information was haphazardly organized.

They displayed near ancient-looking windows and website tabs of information that were densely allocated and difficult to navigate.

However, with the sharp rise in user-centered design methods and best practices in HTML, CSS, and other front-end development frameworks/languages, website layouts improved dramatically.

Now, imagine yourself today scrolling through top-of-the-line consumer-corporate websites including Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Google.

Notice any common features?

Seamlessly structured UI/UX web layouts with accessibility in mind.

In broad terms, the front end of a website includes all facets and external elements that the users interact with.

Whether they’re navigating dropdown menus, using adjustable sliders, or scrolling through sections upon sections of website information, front-end web development accounts for all related factors.

At this very second in time, more than 1.5 billion active websites are shooting their best shot at designing and engineering beautified front-end UI experiences.

As a result, a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript have established themselves as staple design languages in the front-end development realm.

Front-end developers will mesh a multi-layered approach of markup and programming languages/frameworks to create a front-end architecture for immersive user experiences.

How to develop an effective front end web project?

Effective front-end developers and UI/UX projects integrate several criteria, including:

  • User accessibility
  • Navigation
  • Compatibility with their user base/audience, and
  • Sleek user interfaces

That all together to that tap into the subconscious pleasures of the user audience.

In other words, front-end developers are responsible for optimizing and tailoring the sweet spot proportion of an attractive user interface.

What’s this elusive sweet spot, you may ask?

It is a practical, yet alluring, user interface that actively engages the audience using essential design elements and UX research.

In order to achieve this sweet spot, front-end developers adaptively use HTML, CSS (markup languages), and JavaScript (programming) to create the functional foundation of a sleek UI.

However, high-performing front-end devs will progressively become familiar with associative frameworks including Bootstrap, Foundation, Backbone, Angular, React.js, and EmberJS.

This recipe-like combination of front-end design languages and frameworks allows companies to create responsive pages and mobile-friendly (i.e. website content will appear the same on all devices) that reach more expansive audiences.

Front-end developers will precisely streamline this process between seamless user experience and user interface by cross-collaborating with designers and UX analysts.

Together, they create preliminary mockups/wireframes and prototypes to better visualize final user-face features and interactive elements.

All in all every surface-level detail you can perceive and digitally interact with was made possible by a front-end development team, composing a final exterior design for the user to indulge in.

Although the components of a web page unify disparate sources of media, anywhere from photographs to logos and content, front-end developers effectively compose them into a final story that both engages the user in real-time and impresses them enough to return.

What Does a front end-Web Developer Do?

As the complexities of front-end development and UI/UX have increased drastically, the job description of a 21st-century front-end web developer has become equally as demanding.

Front-end web developers are generally responsible for implementing essential visual elements and UI designs that enable seamless interactivity and functionality with a web application.

Typically, front-end developers will actively collaborate with back-end developers and full-stack software engineers to streamline and coordinate server-side application logic as well as front-end integration.

In other words, back-end and front-end developers form the bread and butter of creating a fully capable web application with both function and form in mind.

For companies with non-specific and broad web development job criteria, the bare-minimum responsibilities of a front-end developer include the following:

  • Developing novel user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX)
  • Build and deploy reusable code, frameworks, and front-end libraries for future applications.
  • Evaluate and determine the technical feasibility of UI/UX designs via mockups and wireframe presentations.
  • Optimize web applications with responsiveness, scalability, clean navigation, and speed in mind.
  • Aggregate user feedback and ensure that all user-level features and design methods are validated before submitting final versions to the back-end.
  • Collaborate with the full-stack ecosystem; work with other team members and stakeholders to configure UI/UX designs accordingly.

Additionally, recruiters should eyeball the following technical qualifications, anywhere from HTML5 and CSS3 markup to server-side web app integration:

  • Proficiency in web markup, including HTML5, CSS3, and their associated libraries.
  • A rudimentary understanding of server-side CSS pre-processing platforms, including LESS and SASS.
  • An actionable understanding of client-side scripting and modern JavaScript frameworks such as jQuery.
  • Highly encouraged to possess advanced JS framework and library-level knowledge, including AngularJS, KnockoutJS, BackboneJS, ReactJS, DurandalJS, etc.
  • Possesses a firm grasp of asynchronous request handling, partial page updates, and AJAX implementation.
  • Baseline knowledge of image authoring tools, manipulation, and best practices including cropping, resizing and performing minor image adjustments.
  • Familiarity with tools such as Sketch, Photoshop, or AdobeXD is an advantage.

In terms of expected supplementary requirements, junior and senior-level web developers should possess the following:

  • Essential understanding of cross-browser compatibility and responsiveness issues and how to resolve them accordingly.
  • Efficient use of code versioning tools such as Git, Mercurial, or SVN.
  • Firm grasp of SEO principles and ensuring that front-end metadata and text will adhere to them.

Front End vs. Back End: What’s the Difference?

Although the primary differences between front-end and back-end web development may seem evident, there are grey areas of distinction.

A few that come to mind are programming-level knowledge, frameworks, and ultimately, their respective roles in a full-stack development department.

In the broadest terms, front-end refers to the client-side of a web application. Essentially the part that you interact with.

However, back-end refers to the server-side and inner-workings that allow for front-end features to function (e.g. user buttons, registration forms, messaging, etc).

As highlighted earlier, the barebones of a front-end project involve design frameworks and markup languages such as HTML and CSS that are purely client-side in nature.

Because of this, engineering departments have established themselves with a large spectrum of job descriptions, anywhere from web design to UI/UX testing & engineering.

Below, I’ve listed a brief overview of the expected job requirements and distinctions between a back-end developer and front-end web developer:

  • Unless they have full-stack experience, back-end developers solely work with server-side implementation. This involves the inner guts and workings of a website, including databases and structures, servers, and user functions that are behind the corresponding UI/UX features.
  • They are typically involved with security, structure, and content management. Although they may have a firm grasp of HTML5 and CSS3, it’s not their prime concentration.
  • Back-end web developers integrate dynamic features into modern websites. This enables them to continually update in real-time based on database changes and new user inputs. Ultimately, this contrasts from a front-end developer deploying static sites.
  • In order to deploy a dynamic back-end architecture, developers will use programming languages such as PHP or .NET for database engineering. Resultantly, they interlink servers with databases ensuring that dynamic updates are made effectively.

Examples of front-end job titles

Below are several discrete examples of front-end job titles and how they interrelate with final front-end products.

  • Web Designing: Perhaps the broadest job description in front-end development. Web designers could be anyone that uses markup and JS frameworks to someone with little to no language experience that uses Photoshop and Fireworks for user-facing design.
  • User Interface (UI) Design: UI design typically involves visual design and sampling to create enjoyable, seamless, and well-structured user experiences. Although they are not consistently involved with programming, they typically possess a light knowledge of HTML and CSS to communicate visions and potential ideas.
  • User Experience (UX) Design: In terms of pure programmatic knowledge and integration of user-facing libraries, UX designers are the mole in the group. UX designers study and research how users use websites.
  • By understanding the psychology and subconscious of users, they can change and test UI accordingly.
  • Front-End Developer: Front-end developers ultimately create sites without any associated back-end development or server-side features. In other words, they design front-feature sites that are primarily static (e.g. sites for restaurants, informational pages, salons, etc).
  • As cited earlier, front-end developers must have a firm grasp on testing and designing with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Top Must-Have Skills for an Experienced Web Developer

Although I’ve cited piles upon piles of critical job description info and key distinctions between the front and back-end development, below I’ve highlighted the top must-have skills to possess in the modern age of the front-end development world:

HTMl5 and CSS3 Markup

HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are the most rudimentary building blocks of web coding and user-facing features.

If a front-end web developer doesn’t possess bare-minimum HTML and CSS knowledge requirements, their title is questionable!

Ultimately, without HTML and CSS, basic layout structures and website structures cannot be developed, resulting in plain white screen and Times New Roman text font.

However, no fear— there is good news! With HTML and CSS alone, companies and entry-level web developers are prepared to create basic static websites with a semi-pleasing user interface.

JavaScript

By layering JavaScript into your web development stack, more depth in functionality is enabled.

At a crude level, JS allows you to control and create maps that update in real-time, interactive films, and online games.

With JavaScript and its associated libraries, you can create updatable websites with responsiveness in mind.

jQuery

jQuery exists in conjunction with JavaScript as a library. More specifically, it is a broad collection of plugins and extensions that make developing with JS more efficient and seamless.

Rather than starting from the barebones and coding JS from scratch, JQuery allows front-end web developers to add ready-made elements to projects such as countdown timers, search form autocompletes, and automatically-resizing grid layouts.

JavaScript Frameworks

To put it shortly and sweetly, JS frameworks such as AngularJS, Backbone, Ember, and ReactJS provide web development teams with a read-made structure to the entirety of their JS code. This accelerates development while optimizing user responsiveness and UI interactivity.

Front-End Frameworks

CSS and front-end frameworks such as bootstrap can be effectively used as jumping-off points for faster coding, just like JS frameworks do for JS.

A Firm Grasp of CSS Preprocessors

In addition to front-end markup frameworks, preprocessors such as SASS and LESS can speed up CSS coding by optimizing functionality, format, and scalability.

Familiarity with RESTful Services and APIs

REST (Representational State Transfer) is a lightweight architecture that drastically simplifies network communication on the web, while RESTful services and APIs are the web services that communicate with the corresponding REST architecture.

To better visualize a discrete situation with RESTful services and APIs, imagine the following scenario:

You want to develop an app that shows you all your social media friends in the precise order that you became friends.

To accomplish this, a web developer could make calls to Facebook’s RESTful API to read your associated friends list and return that data accordingly.

Additional skills

In addition to these programmatic web development skills, the following qualifications are just as essential:

  • Responsive and mobile design
  • Cross-browser development
  • Content Management Systems and E-commerce Platform design
  • General testing and debugging
  • Git and version control systems
  • Problem-solving skills

How to Hire a Front-End Web Developer

As companies start filling their design and front-end teams with talented developers, creating a front-end web development team can be challenging and time-consuming.

By looking out for the following UI and JS-focused requirements listed below, you’ll be able to sift through millions of potential candidates and optimize the match for your business-level needs.

  • Proficiency in HTML and CSS.
  • JavaScript basics
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Responsive design
  • UI frameworks and CSS-transforming tools
  • 2D and 3D graphics
  • User Accessibility
  • Graphic design and Typography
  • UI/UX design
  • Web template systems
  • Code versioning tools and utilization

To better evaluate potential rising front-end developer candidates for UI and static websites (HTML, CSS, etc), you should gauge their responses to the following interview questions:

  • “What were the most challenging compatibility issues you had to resolve?”
  • “What do you think is the best way to rapidly prototype and develop web applications?”
  • What are the primary goals and motivations for using the latest standards of HTML5, CSS3, and their frameworks?”

Conclusion

At this very second, companies and businesses are flocking to compete in a landscape of creating the very best UI designs and user experiences.

However, with the massive influx of potential web development candidates, startups, and already-established corporations must optimize their teams and sift through the essential qualifications to get the job done.

At Trio, you can hire senior-level front-end web developers with the most competitive qualifications in the industry.

If you are looking to outsource and ease the hiring process for an upcoming web development project, I highly encourage you to know more about how to hire some of the best front-end developers with Trio!

Daniel Fleury

About

Daniel is a machine learning researcher and engineer at Johns Hopkins University

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Front-End Web Development?

Front-end developers are responsible for optimizing and tailoring the sweet spot proportion of an attractive user interface.

What Does a front end-Web Developer Do?

Front-end web developers are generally responsible for implementing essential visual elements and UI designs that enable seamless interactivity and functionality with a web application.