Imagine you are going to watch an opera. You attend the performance and immerse yourself in the magic of the orchestra and the opera singers conveying a story. But you also know there is a lot of work behind the scenes to make this performance come to life.
This includes things like lighting, microphones, set design, etc. Just like a stage performance has a “back” side and a “front” side, so too do websites. And when talking about the front side of a website, the best person for the job would be a front-end developer.
Wondering who these employees are and where you can source this talent from? Keep reading to find out more!
What is a front-end developer?
Going back to the analogy above, a frontend developer works on the “front” side of a website. Although this is quite a simplistic explanation, it does the trick quite well. But what is the front side of a website?
It is everything that a user sees on their computer, tablet, or mobile phone when they visit a website or an app. This can include features such as buttons, the design, structure, layout of the website, interactive elements, and a lot more.
In web development, there are also backend developers who focus on what users don’t see. As such, frontend and backend developers often work together to create a cohesive whole that users can enjoy.
In other words, users get to see the full stage performance while the backend guys focus on the lighting, sound, and props.
Which teams does a frontend developer work with?
Working in web development is not an isolated process. Different teams need to come together to ensure that the “performance” is absolutely flawless. We already alluded to the fact that frontend developers work with backend developers, but there are many other team members that a frontend developer needs to work with. These may include:
- Graphic designers
- UX designer
- Visual designer
- UI/Interaction designer
- Project managers/project lead
- Chief technical officers
- Search engine optimization (SEO) strategists
- Developer operations engineers
- Performance engineers
- API developers
- Database administrators
- QA engineers/testers
What are some of the most common tasks a frontend developer performs?
Even though every organization and website is different, there are some common features that a frontend developer will work on to ensure that the organization’s users’ experience is completely optimized. That’s why, for example, a frontend developer will generally work on the following tasks to achieve this primary aim:
- Develops and maintains the user interface
- Implements design on mobile websites
- Creates tools that improve site interaction (irrespective of the browser)
- Manages software workflow
- Follows SEO best practices
- Fixes bugs and tests for usability
What are some of the most common challenges a frontend developer faces?
Of course, it’s only natural that when a frontend developer steps into their role, there will never be uniformity among their users and the browsers or interfaces they utilize to view a website or app. As such, there are some common challenges that a frontend developer will face when it comes to optimizing their websites or when working on an assigned project. These include:
- Browser compatibility: because every user owns a different mobile device (with different screen sizes) and different users use different browsers to get to your site, one of the most common challenges a frontend developer will face is browser and device incompatibility as well as UX inconsistency and layout differences.
- Performance: examples that affect performance include fast loading times on websites. However, sometimes there are numerous barriers that prevent a website from loading fast, which can affect the site’s rankings on Google. As such, this is another challenge frontend developers need to face and address.
- User experience: it’s fundamentally essential that if working with multiple teams on the same project, there is clear communication about the context of the user experience of the website. Poor communication within teams can ultimately result in poor user experience on the front end and that means potentially lost customers.
- Support and maintenance: it’s only natural that when a site goes live, several issues will occur. These may include problems with the user interface, unresponsiveness, speed, performance, etc. And it happens just as you go live. Although it’s difficult to implement changes when your site is live, it is possible to fix them in collaboration with your backend team.
What does it take to become a frontend developer?
As you’ve already seen from what has been mentioned so far, a frontend developer is a highly responsible job.
It is client-facing and as such, it requires accuracy, precision, speed, and a pleasing aesthetic in addition to functionality.
That’s why frontend developers are in such high demand. But what are their general skills, responsibilities, and qualifications? We explore this in more detail below.
Broadly speaking, a frontend developer will be responsible for:
- Developing new, user-facing features
- Building reusable code and libraries
- Ensuring the technical feasibility of UI/UX designs
- Optimizing applications for maximum speed and scalability
- Assuring that all user input is validated before submitting to the backend
- Collaborating with other team members and stakeholders
In addition to the above, frontend developers need to have a strong understanding of web markup, which includes HTML5 and CSS3.
They will also need to have a basic understanding of server-side CSS pre-processing platforms, such as LESS and SASS.
Other knowledge- and skill-based requirements include:
- Good understanding of asynchronous request handling, partial page updates, and AJAX
- Basic knowledge of image authoring tools, to be able to crop, resize, or perform small adjustments on an image
- Familiarity with tools such as Gimp or Photoshop
- Proficient understanding of cross-browser compatibility issues and ways to work around them
- Proficient understanding of code versioning tools, such as Git/Mercurial/SVN
- Good understanding of SEO principles and ensuring that application will adhere to them
Ready to source your next frontend developer?
If you are looking for the right fronend developer talent, you’ve come to the perfect place. That’s because at StorsenDigital, we have a massive pool of talent that you can tap into to help your organization meet its talent shortages and needs. Simply visit our Experts hub and browse through the variety of top talent that we have on offer. And if you have any questions or need any help, we are always here for you!