What Is a Front-End Web Developer?

In today’s hot job market, skilled tech workers of all sorts are highly sought after. And, with the pandemic-related increase in e-commerce, web developers are in particular demand. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the role of front-end web developer, including job outlook, required skills, and training resources to help you jumpstart your career.

What Do Front-End Developers Do?

Front-end developers build or integrate the various components that make up a website’s look and feel, including a site’s appearance and interface, graphics, applications (e.g., shopping carts), and other functionality (e.g., menus and navigation). 

These components make up what is known as the front end of a website — or the part that users interact with. “It is the front-end developer's job to take the vision and design concept from the client and implement it through code,” says Jessica Wilkins

“Everything that you see when you’re navigating around the Internet, from fonts and colors to drop-down menus and sliders, is a combo of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript being controlled by your computer’s browser,” says Udacity.

Employment and Compensation

“Employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow as e-commerce continues to expand. … As retail firms expand their online offerings, demand for these workers will grow,” says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, web developer job growth is projected to increase 13 percent between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Information about front-end developer salaries varies widely. According to Glassdoor, for example, the U.S. national average base salary for a front-end developer is $87,240 per year. Builtin, however, lists the average base salary at $105,240. 

The 2021 Stack Overflow Developer Survey puts the average U.S. salary even higher, at $115,000. Notably, the same Stack Overflow survey lists the global average front-end developer salary at about $50,000.

Skills and Responsibilities

This Berkeley Boot Camp resource states that the main responsibility of a front-end developer is “to ensure that website visitors can easily interact with the page. They do this through the combination of design, technology and programming to code a website’s appearance, as well as taking care of debugging.” 

Job descriptions and duties of course vary by organization, but, according to the Berkeley resource, a front-end developer role generally includes the following: 

  • Using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build websites.
  • Creating prototypes and mock-ups of websites or applications.
  • Integrating graphics, audio, and video into the website.
  • Developing and maintaining the user interface.
  • Optimizing the user experience across browsers and devices.
  • Implementing or creating tools to improve site interaction.
  • Fixing bugs and testing for usability.

Front-end developers need experience with the following basic tools and languages:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) — Used to format items such as buttons, links, headings, paragraphs, and lists.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) — Used to create the style or appearance of a web page, including the layout and placement of various elements.
  • Git — Or other version control system.
  • JavaScript — Used to create interactive web pages.
  • React — JavaScript library for building user interfaces.
  • A JavaScript framework, such as Angular, Ember, or Vue.js.
  • A CSS framework, such as Bootstrap.

The tools, techniques, and best practices for website creation change rapidly, so developers also need to remain aware of the latest development trends.

Training Options

Many training courses and online resources are available to help you quickly get up to speed with front-end development. 

Mozilla, for example, offers a free course that allows you to work through each section at your own pace, learning new skills, completing exercises, and testing your knowledge at each step. Topics include:

  • Basic setup
  • CSS, HTML, and JavaScript
  • Web standards and best practices (e.g., accessibility and cross-browser compatibility)
  • Tooling to facilitate modern client-side web development

Other courses and training options include:

Check out the following resources to learn more about front-end development as well as other career opportunities.

Learn More

If you're ready to find a job, check out the open positions at Open Source JobHub.

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