What is a Front End Developer?

Published 7/11/2016

Are you a Front-End Developer?

Behind every beautiful website is a talented front-end developer. These aesthetically-inclined coders possess the logical capacity to build the functional part of websites users interact with. They are sharp, innovative and committed to constantly improving their technique. Sound like you? Read on.

Here’s what a front-end developer does day-to-day:

  • Utilize three different languages (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) to construct user-friendly sites and solve complex problems, often with trial and error, in the process of doing so.
  • Work with designers to implement the elements that give a site or native application its desired look and feel.
  • Keep current on perpetually evolving best practices through a collaborative community of open-source-embracing developers. Front-end developers can use newsletters like JavaScript Weekly, Dev/Design Roundup, and podcasts like JavaScript Jabber to keep current.

Front-end developers are born collaborators, top-notch communicators, keen problem solvers, visually-minded and tenacious when it comes to staying on the cutting edge of constantly evolving industry best practices. Do you have what it takes?

If the answer is yes, it’s time to get familiar with the three building blocks of front-end development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

HTML

Short for Hypertext Markup Language, HTML is a system of tags that essentially hold a website together and that allows browsers to parse and render (that is to say, understand and display) a page. Think of HTML as a website’s skeleton: It’s not much to look at it and it can’t move without muscles, but the muscles can’t move without the bones to hold onto, either. A site could technically be made with only HTML, but it would be bare bones. Picture a default, black font on a non-interactive white page. That’s where CSS and JavaScript come in. Front-end developers create a Document Object Model (DOM) with HTML to allow CSS and JavaScript to connect with elements on the web page. The CSS and JavaScript are what make a page visually appealing, engaging, and functional.

CSS

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheet, is the language responsible for the look and feel of a website that user is most aware of when interacting with it. Front end developers inject CSS into HTML to manipulate things like color, fonts, headers, footers, alignment and more. CSS can even be used to alter the underlying structure of a page as it appears to the user.

JavaScript

Front end developers use this language to add functionality to a page. Anytime you click a button and something happens, you can thank JavaScript (and the web developer who coded it), for the result. JavaScript also allows pages to interact with other pages. Coding JavaScript is primarily where the logical aspect of front end developing comes in, and good developers are clever, creative, and collaborative when it comes to using it. What can and can’t be done with JavaScript is constantly evolving. It’s an exciting time to be in the field.

Get Started

If you’re ready to dive in, the first step is to get a handle on these three languages and useful frameworks within them (like Angular and Ember). Codecademy is a great (free) place to start getting familiar. Contributing to open sourced projects is another great way to test your skills and work with other developers. Plus, it looks great on a resume.

When you’re ready to dive into a career in front-end development, hands-on instruction from experienced engineers who know the skills you need to be competitive could be your next step. Galvanize’s 24-week web development course provides this and access to the network you need to be successful.

Are you ready to dive in? What will you build?

Want to learn more?

Galvanize offers an 8-Week part time workshop, as well as a 24-week full-time program in Web Development that teaches you how to make an impact as a contributing member of a development team.

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