Skills All Front-End Developers Must Have

Responsive Design

Front-end developers go by many names. They are sometimes called front-end engineers, Web developers, UI engineers or even Web designers. While the titles vary, the things they do are the same. Their focus is on building the interactive part of the website that users see and touch. (Well, the part they touch through their screens, anyways.)

Are you an engineer with serious design skills? Do you care about how things look as well as how they work? Are you passionate about look and feel? Have strong opinions on end-user experience? You might just be a great front-end developer.

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Libraries, Frameworks and Tools—Oh My!

There are three key technologies every front-end developer should have on their resume:

1. JavaScript
2. HTML
3. CSS

These are at the core of any role touching the client. Things get really interesting with all the different libraries, frameworks and tools that come with these technologies. Below are some of the more common ones that hiring managers will expect to see on resumes. Keep in mind that new tech pops up all the time, so keep your eye on what companies actually need.

What You Need

  • Angular, Ember.js, Backbone, jQuery. Even though JavaScript has been around for nearly 20 years, the recent increased emphasis on app-like interactions and consistent browser experiences has spurred a surge in JavaScript frameworks. Each of the frameworks listed above helps make JavaScript code more organized, reusable and maintainable. And since each one includes various components, they can also make development faster (which is something every hiring manager wants). However, your skills in one may not translate to another very easily, so be sure you’re knowledgeable on tools used by the companies you want to work for.
  • Bootstrap, Foundation, Pure, Skeleton, Gumby. These are CSS frameworks that make building a UI faster and more visually consistent by providing layout helpers and default styles. If you know one of these frameworks, or if you have experience building responsive or adaptive websites, you will be able to pick up others pretty quickly, without much training or ramp-up time.
  • LESS, SASS, Stylus. These are CSS preprocessors that make it easier for developers to edit and maintain a diversified set of CSS styles. Each one works a little differently, but once you know one of them, it’s pretty easy to pick up a new one. It’s just a bit of new syntax and styles.
  • Usability, Accessibility, Internationalization, Information Architecture, Portability, Security, Visual Design. While these skills are wide-ranging, a good front-end engineer should have expertise in at least a few.

If you have strong technical skills, the ability to think through business use cases, a passion for the end-user experience, and an intellectual curiosity to learn new tools and technology, then you might be an excellent candidate for a front-end developer role.

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5 Responses to “Skills All Front-End Developers Must Have”

  1. Mark Hammel

    You will also need a firm understanding of OOP principles and how it applies to Javascript. The frameworks you use are not magic. If you have no experience with OOP principles, then you are going to have a hot mess anyway it goes.
    I see this a lot with new hires. They are very smart and fast, but they create confusion and delay because they don’t understand the basic tenants of Software development.

    Ask your next Javascript hire the following questions:
    1.) What is a Setter and a getter?
    2.) What is an interface?
    3.) What is MVC and how or why is it useful?
    4.) What is an event handler method and how much code should be in that method?
    5.) What is a namespace?
    6.) Since Javascript is an event driven language, what can this enable us to do with Javascript?
    7.) How do you decouple concerns across your Javascript application?
    8.) How would you go about creating a Javascript application that support Multi Tenant and Multi Roll capabilities?
    9.) What is Software as a Service?

  2. Neal Young

    I agree with Mark 10000%.
    Most of the front end developers I come across have no knowledge of OOP principles and end up creating a bunch of crap code that is not scalable or reusable.
    If you don’t know OOP principles, than you will have no understanding as to what these frameworks are for and how they came about being developed in the first place.

  3. John Truckie

    I use to be a JQuery fan boy until I started using a real Javascript Framework.
    The only real frameworks worth using in a professional setting are: ExtJs, Yui, or DOJO. Anything else will be a waste, I agree with Mark you need to understand OOP in order to compete when it comes to Javascript Application development.
    Javascript is way more than a one-off scripting language anymore. These Dice articles are great for those looking for $25 – $35/hour. If you want to get with the big boys, $90 – $120/hour, you’ll need more than some Jquery experience.

    P.S. Please stop trying to shove Angular down peoples throats. So much money is being wasted on teaching developers Angular. Once they get those skills they leave for more money. Focus on the fundamentals.

  4. “Usability, Accessibility, Internationalization, Information Architecture, Portability, Security, Visual Design. While these skills are wide-ranging, a good front-end engineer should have expertise in at least a few.”

    I 100% agree with Mark Hammel. Though I believe most of your questions are related to much more than what 99% of the people I’m about to or the average developer would encounter on an actual day to day basis. It’s fine if you can all day about CSS but can you solve an issue, can you actually tackle a problem that somebody else couldn’t spend 5 minutes on a Google Search themselves and fix? If not your not a developer your someone who can remember a lot and follow instructions.

    This guide is for educated idiots who can’t problem solve and likely just go on the scene 2-3 years ago. How about you actually learn how to do something before applying band-aids everything online.This article makes me sick.