Did it ever happen to you that you looked at a website and said "oh wow, what a beautiful website" well, that´s what Front-end developers mostly desire.
Front-end developers are web developers who specialize in the visual side of the website. Their focus is on the design more than making the website work. What do I mean by "making the website work"? I mean the functionality. For that, there are back-end specialists.
One should not confuse Front-end web developers with designers. Designers focus on the user experience and the user interface. I make this distinction as their work is very similar. Designers only design, while front-end developers code.
Front-end developers mainly work with page layouts, content, buttons, images, navigation tabs, forms, internal links, social buttons among others. Everything you normally see and interact with at websites has been manually crafted by a Front-end developer.
The role needs creativity and knowledge. As the main focus is on the experience of the user, being in touch with the latest practices is a must. Have you ever opened a website that you thought "it looks old"? Well, there are two possibilities. Or the owner of the website developed it a long time ago and doesn't care about maintenance, or the developer who coded it at the present is not up to date with the latest resources.
Front-end developers are not only tied to developing the front of the website. As the majority work in teams. Part of the design thinking process before starting to portray the ideas of how the website has to be into actual design and code takes place on pen and paper.
Websites have to be efficient, speedy, well crafted, and most importantly up to date. If one of these points fails, then the work can be considered mediocre. Nobody wants to pay for a development that is not well done.
Front-end developers earn good salaries, there is a high demand for them, they usually keep their jobs for a long time and the demand is higher than the supply. Tech companies hire people that can solve problems, that is the most important asset one can bring to the table. Being a problem solver allows you to extend your role out of the limitation of the name of your position. A front-end developer can help other positions and even other departments. Ideas are always welcome in a creative space. Most Front-end developers are connected to marketing people, as their job is related.
Despite the marketing department is specialized in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) most front-end developers have to know about it too. As it is important for the developers to code in a way that is efficient to be found by the search engines. Not every developer knows this, it is an updated practice, but there is a certain way for HTML files to be correctly found by the web crawlers.
What tools do Front-end developers use?
Front-end developers have vast options when it comes to choosing what tools to use. The most used ones are graphical design tools and code editors.
The graphical design tools are used to build prototypes of applications and websites. Softwares like Photoshop, Sketch, Justinmind, and Invision are the most known and used. Before getting their hands in the code editor to program the actual service they develop a "how would it be" version, also known as the Prototype.
Building a prototype before even coding the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) it´s the best practice. The time and money that can be lost in coding something that is not worthy can be a lot. Prototyping allows the team to be one step further to the actual coding. If you know the result before the work, you can gear the work towards the result. It works like a guide so that you can base your code on something rather than imagination.
Front-end developers start off by drawing on pen on paper, the ideas can be written down as bullet points and things to include. It is later converted into the first version of the prototype and the Unified modeling language, also known as UML. Once this has been done, The first stage is completed and they are ready and prepared to actually start building the first version of the product.
On the second stage, after having completed their work on the Graphical tools, they start using what developers best know as editors. Code Editors can begin from Notepad all the way up to Eclipse, Atom, or Visual Studio. The most complex the code editor, the more time the developer needs to master it. Atom can be a good choice when it comes to choosing an editor.
Most front-end developer teams in the U.S and in most countries work on a Mac, as they are better known for their design excellence.
In conclusion, Front-end developers are web developers who specialize in the visual part of the development. They work together with back-end developers and designers. It is a creative job and requires knowledge. It can be definitely the first step to take when wanting to have an IT position. The software used is Graphical tools and Code Editors. Being in tune with the latest way to build a website is a must, as if not the websites may look old compared to other ones.