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How to become a Front-End Web Developer

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So you want to become a Front-End Web Developer? Great! It’s a fantastic job with many hurdles but just as many rewards.

So what skills/knowledge would set you up nicely for the job?

Front-End Web Developers create the face of a website. They work alongside web designers to create the sublime or can even craft the design themselves. They create interactive masterpieces and experiences that make the web the addictive environment it is today.

Sounds good right? Of course different employers are looking for different skills within the Front-End Developer umbrella.

I took my search to a number of recruitment websites and searched for ‘Front-End Developer’ in the Bristol area and what I found varied quite substantially. I believe this was could be down to poor understanding of just what a Front-End Developer does (in one instance, the job was asking for someone who had video-editing capabilities.. err…). 

So just what skills are needed?

Below is an example of a job listing I found that listed the requirements;

  • HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript
  • Cross-browser testing
  • Responsive web development
  • Experience with CSS pre-processors beneficial
  • Knowledge of JavaScript frameworks beneficial

Breaking this down,

  • HTML5 and CSS3? Knowledge of the latest standards and how to use them correctly.
  • Cross-browser testing? Pointless to have a website that only works on one browser right?
  • Responsive web development? Realistically, this should just be ‘web development’, responsiveness should be the norm by now!
  • As for pre-processors and frameworks – this isn’t something I believe is covered in all courses (at least at the university I studied at at the time) – Great assets, but beneficial not crucial.

Okay, so fairly straight forward stuff right? But wait, there’s more! In another job listing, the employer requested;

“The successful candidate will have skills in GIT, CSS, PHP, C Sharp, POSH and any of the following – JavaScript, Django, HTTP REST or Jinja.”

Err – Okay, now this is getting slightly outside of the Front-End scope here, at least for someone just starting out. GIT is a widely-used version control system so even a basic understanding could be a great advantage later down the line.

With that in mind, I would certainly recommend being familiar with a range of different frameworks/languages on the off-chance that particular skill/understanding is needed.

So what should you know to be a Front-End Web Developer?

If I was hiring for a junior position, I would want to interview anyone who knows/has;

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Understanding of the latest Web Trends and Techniques

I believe what many agencies are looking for is a developer who strives to learn, who is lazy (I’ll explain further down…) and who takes pride in their work.

Lastly, for those seeking employment

Just remember, when you’re looking for a developer job and you’re reading through the skills they’re looking for, you don’t have to meet every requirement. Treat the advert as a wish list. They’re probably not expecting you to have every single skill listed, otherwise you’ll more likely be overqualified for that particular job.

With that in mind, here’s my advice:

panicWhatever the job you’re applying for, whether it’s a designer role, developer or professional tea maker. Make sure to bring it to the interview.

If I was going to break it down, I would want a Front-End developer to have work experience, skill, interest, character and optimism.

As I mentioned earlier, even if you can be lazy sometimes can be turned into an advantage (when explained). I believe it was Bill Gates that once said;

“I would choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

I have found myself admitting I’m lazy on more than one occasion because it has lead to a more cost effective solution. Often an employer will be looking for characteristic qualities alongside skillset. Someone who can work as part of a team to get things done.

**Oh bother… The url reads designers, that should be developers – whoops!