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How to become a Front End Developer

Become a Front End Developer

Some of the highest-paid professionals in the world are front-end developers. They use their knowledge and talents to design appealing and user-friendly websites.

Front-end developers do not need a degree or a school certificate to work. Rather, they must understand the fundamentals of front-end development, programming languages, and front-end development frameworks.

In this guide, you will learn how to become a front end developer by first understanding what front end development entails, the technical and soft skills required, the languages and frameworks available, and some steps to get started.

A front end developer in the United States may earn an average of $86,178 per year, according to Glassdoor. According to Payscale, a “typical” front-end developer can earn an annual income of $71,350.

If you’re new to the tech industry, you might be confused about what front end means, as well as other aspects of web development like back end and full stack, so we’ll start by explaining them.

What is front end?

All the websites we browse, the e-commerce websites we purchase goods from, the blogs we read from, and so on are made user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing by front-end developers.

There are two major aspects of web development to consider when building websites and web applications: the front end and the back end.

Front-end development is concerned with the front end of any web application, as the name implies. This is what the user sees and interacts with by performing operations such as clicking a button, scrolling through a page, filling out a form, and so on. This is the client-side functionality of a web application.

Back end refers to the events that occur behind the scenes, such as infrastructure, database connection and communication, and so on. Full stack refers to a combination of front end and back end.

What Is a Front End Developer?

A front end developer, also known as a front end web developer, is a professional responsible for the design and implementation of the interface. The users require this interface so that they can access the application in question. A web designer is a professional who creates a website’s appearance and design. And the front end developer makes sure that the design works online by using coding languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

We should pause for a moment to clarify the differences between a front end developer, back end developer, and full stack developer. Let’s put this in simple terms: a front end developer is responsible for the parts of an app or website that users see and interact with. A back end developer takes care of the “behind the scenes” matters such as infrastructure and databases. The full-stack developer is a mixture of both, a jack of all trades that can handle the whole design process from the beginning to the end.

Note that there’s a trend these days where the line between the front end and back end development has been blurring. Primarily since many of the tasks that fall in the domain of back end developers are being increasingly handled by the front end developers.

As a final aside, there are also full-stack engineers. They are full-stack developers who have project management experience, adept at disciplines in the configuring, managing, and maintaining computer networks and systems.

Front End Developer Roles and Responsibilities

If you’re wondering what a front end developer does, he must:

  • Decide web page design and structure
  • Develop features to enhance the users’ experience
  • Striking a balance between functional and aesthetic design.
  • Make sure the web design is smartphone-capable
  • Build reusable code for future use
  • Make sure web pages are optimized for best speed and scalability
  • Employ a diverse selection of markup languages to design web pages
  • Keep the brand consist throughout the whole design

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What Does a Front-end Developer Do?

We just discussed the various aspects of web development, front and, back end, and full stack. And to go along with that we also have different types of developers based on which aspects of web development they are proficient in. So we have front-end developers, back-end developers, and full-stack developers.

A front-end developer is a professional who is in charge of creating the user interface and user experience (UI/UX) that users interact with in order to access the application in question. They are problem solvers who use programming languages, tools, creativity, and experience to create a website or application that solves a user’s problem and looks good.

As previously stated, a back-end developer is responsible for everything related to the backend, including logic, database communication, and much more.

Finally, full-stack developers are those who understand both front-end and back-end development, allowing them to start and finish a project on their own.

In a professional setting or standard company, there is usually a UI/UX designer(s) who designs how the interface will look and what they want the user’s experience to be.

Then they’ll passes their design on to the front-end and back-end developers, who now work on the implementation so the app they’ve designed works on the web. The front-end developer will recreate the design by writing the program in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Front End Developer Skills in 2021

Since the front end developer is the rock star of website/app development, they need to have a well-stocked personal toolbox. So a front end developer skills include the need to:

  • Have a degree in Computer Science or similar field
  • Be proficient in coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery
  • Understand server-side CSS.
  • Be experienced with graphic design applications (e.g., Adobe Illustrator)
  • Understand the principles of SEO
  • Have excellent skills in problem-solving
  • Be proficient in communicating with team members, bosses, and clients
  • Have good interpersonal skills

Why do we Need Front-End Development?

The internet is growing at an unprecedented rate these days, and there are all sorts of reasons for that. People use the internet for:

  • Communication.
  • Gaining information and knowledge.
  • Learning and studying.
  • Paying bills.
  • Running businesses.
  • Shopping, etc.

The internet has become a teeming medium with data for everyone; bringing together businesses and customers, connecting people with friends and family, etc.

Every day, more and more users are joining the internet populace to benefit from it. New users mean more demand and thus, more websites and web apps. This eventually demands more front end, as well as back end, developers. Usually, a front end developer is responsible for:

  • Working in line with a web designer or web designing team and deciding the web page/webapp design and structure.
  • Coming up with features that enhance user experience.
  • Forming a balance between aesthetics and functionality.
  • Ensuring that the interface works perfectly on mobile devices.
  • Maintaining brand consistency throughout the website/web app.
  • Web page optimization for superior scalability and speed.


Front End Developer Salary

According to Glassdoor, a front end developer in the United States can earn an average of $86,178 per year. A “regular” front-end developer can earn an average salary of $71,350 a year, according to Payscale.

A junior front end developer (more about them below) earns about $49,000 on average, but that’s hardly surprising, considering they need less experience and have fewer responsibilities.

Note: Click here to understand the differences between,  front end vs full stack developer.

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How to Become a Front End Developer?

Don’t let the above list intimidate you. You can become a front end developer if you follow these simple steps.

  • Learn CSS, JavaScript and HTML

These coding languages are the essential building blocks for web and app development, so you need to learn them. Fortunately, it’s not a very difficult undertaking. There are lots of online resources available out there that can help further your education in the coding languages. For extra credit, familiarize yourself with jQuery and JavaScript Frameworks.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, it is the skeleton of all web pages and applications as thier most basic building block. You use HTML to structure your page into elements such as paragraphs, sections, headings, navigation bars, and so on.

HTML provides structure to the content appearing on a website, such as images, text, or videos. A page with just HTML is very basic and unappealing, and it will need CSS styling to make it presentable.

HTML is frequently the first language that developers learn, and it is essential for front-end development work. Do you want to know more about HTML? Begin with freeCodeCamp’s Responsive Web Design certification and Beau Carnes’ brand new full HTML course.

CSS is an abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets, and you use it to enhance the appearance of a web page by adding CSS styles. These styles make your website more appealing and enjoyable to view and use for the end user.

Do you want to know more about CSS? To get started, check out the second part of freeCodeCamp’s Responsive Web Design certification.

What is JavaScript?

HTML is a markup language, CSS is a style sheet, and then we have JavaScript, the third building block. JavaScript is a programming language that allows you to make your web pages more interactive. This can include animations, dynamic styling, effects/behaviors when buttons are clicked, game motion, and so on.

If you want to learn JavaScript, look into freeCodeCamp’s JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures certification. You can also supplement your learning with this excellent Intro to JS course.

  • Get Informed

That means reading articles and books about front end development. By getting an understanding of how things work on a website, you can make better sense of the various coding languages. If you want to round out your learning experience, check out some videos on YouTube.

  • Practice

Here’s where the old saying “practice makes perfect” comes into play. Start small by using your newfound knowledge to build small parts of a user interface, then expand slowly. If you end up making mistakes, don’t worry. Sometimes we learn more from our errors than we do from a flawless performance.

  • Learn the Command Line

When pursuing a profession that has anything to do with web design, it’s a good idea to get at least a basic grasp of concepts like displaying files and file system navigation. On a related note, you should familiarize yourself with the properties of the Shell, which is the means of accessing operating system functions via a text interface.

  • Learn Version Control

One of the hazards of coding is having it break when you change one small thing. Even after you try to rectify the problem, things are never quite the same again. That’s why a good front end developer learns version control. There is an impressive selection of version control systems to choose from, but if you want to go with the most popular, go with Git.

  • Enhance Your Skills

Check out some tutorials, tools, and open-source projects. Resources such as freeCodeCamp, Codecademy, Bootstrap, Vue.js, CSS Layout, and Front-end Checklist exist to help you master the skills of front end development without having to lay out any money for the opportunity. These tools are easily accessible online and can be a much-needed boost to your front end development education.


Which skills you can learn to become a frontend developer in 2022?

Here are the essential skills you can learn to become a frontend developer in 2022. The list includes essential technologies, programming languages, tools, libraries, and frameworks. I have also shared resources and online courses to learn these essential frontend development skills. .

This list includes programming languages like JavaScript, markup language like HTML, styling tools like CSS, a framework like React, IDE like VSCode, tools like Chrome Developer Tools, NPM, and Webpack, and REST API tools like Postman and GraphQL, a better way to develop APIs.

I have also included Responsive web design as a skill because, in 2022, it’s almost given if you want to serve all of your audience accessing your website or web application using different devices.


Other skills you can learn to become a frontend developer

  1. HTML

This is the first and foremost thing anyone serious about web development should learn. It’s probably the oldest web technology out there and also the first one I learned long ago, but it’s still relevant, and you just cannot become a Web Developer without a good knowledge of HTML. Technically it’s a markup language and used to specify the structure of your page.

Nowadays, it’s very rare for anyone to create a web page by writing HTML. Instead, most of the webpage you see is generated by an advanced framework like Angular and React. Still, if you want to understand, debug, and solve problems, you must know essential HTML tags like div, span, title, headers, etc.

Even if you know HTML, there is no harm in updating yourself with the latest development, and if you want to start from scratch, I suggest you join the Learn HTML 5 Programming from Scratch course on Udemy. It also covers CSS, which we’ll discuss next in the list.

  1. CSS, Flexbox and Grid

Apart from HTML, if there is another irreplaceable web technology is then it must be CSS 3 or Cascading Style Sheet. CSS is used to style your web page, I mean to make it look more beautiful. You can also use CSS to specify the layout of the element.

Just like HTML, it’s scarce now to style your web pages by writing CSS classes by hand, instead of many people and the team using a framework like Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS, Materialize, etc. Like HMTL, CSS is also evolving, and now you have things like Flexbox and Grid.

Since it’s absolutely essential for any project you work on to look more beautiful, you have to learn CSS. If you are a beginner, I suggest you start with barebone CSS and then move on to these new developments like Flexbox and Grid.

If you need a resource, I recommend Advanced CSS and Sass: Flexbox, Grid, Animations, and More! Course, which not only covers CSS from scratch but also teaches you Flexbox and Grid, which is going to serve you well in 2022.

  1. JavaScript

This is the third most essential thing any Web developer should learn; in fact, without JavaScript, the Web would not have been where it is today. When I learned JavaScript, people told me that it put life in your webpage, it can make your webpage interactive.

Like you can do things when someone clicks buttons, you can change animations and look and feel of your webpage when the user moves the mouse, etc. All those are still true, but JavaScript now offers much more. In fact, you can develop a complete web application end-to-end just using JavaScript.

It has evolved from an essential frontend programming language to a full-stack language, which also allows you to write backend code. This was made possible by Nodejs, another necessary framework for web developers.

The bottom line is, JavaScript is absolutely a must for any Web Developer, both frontend and backend, and you should definitely spend some time learning JavaScript in 2022.

If you need a resource, I recommend The Complete JavaScript 2022: Build Real Project class by Jonas Schmedtmann on Udemy, which is a great course to learn JavaScript in depth. It’s equally useful for both beginners and experienced Web Developers.

By the way, JavaScript is still evolving, and now we have things like WebAssembly, which allows you to run code as fast as C, C++, and Rust in your browser.

  1. React.js

As I have mentioned in the previous paragraph that Web Development, particularly frontend development, has come a long way in the last decade.

Now, you don’t need to write HTML and CSS to create your webpages, like many other web developers and I have done in the late nineties and early 2000s.

Now, you have a framework like React, which can dynamically generate web pages for you. That’s why a web developer needs to learn a frontend framework like React.

If you want to learn to React in 2022 and looking for a recommendation, I suggest you join Maximilian’s The Complete React Guide (with Hooks) course, which is the most up-to-date and also covers React Hooks, an essential concept to master in 2022.

Btw, React is not the only one out there, in fact, there are many other frontend frameworks that are as powerful as React like Angular, Vuejs, Svelete.js but I recommend React because it has adopted by many companies, both small and large and I think it is here for a long run.

  1. Responsive Web Design

This is a no-brainer but again an essential thing to learn for Web developers. If you want to develop a website or web application, it must be responsive to cater to your audiences and customers accessing your site from different devices.

Responsive web design allows you to best present your website depending upon the size of the tools your users are using. I have seen many frontend developers not paying attention to this essential skill, don’t be one of them, and learn Responsive web design.

Most likely, it will be handled for you by a framework, but knowing how it works is essential to troubleshoot and maintain your web project.

If you want to learn Responsive Web design in 2022, I suggest you take a look at Jonas Schmedtmann’s Build Responsive Real World Websites with HTML5 and CSS3 course on Udemy.

  1. NPM (Node Package Manager)

Now that we have covered the most essential programming language and framework for frontend development, it’s time to look at essential tools or web development, and first, one of them is NPM. If you don’t know, now you don’t need to write code for everything you need.

For example, if you want to generate dynamic web pages, you don’t need to write a framework, someone else has already written, and you can just import them to use in your project.

All this was made possible because of NPM or Node Package Manager. It’s the world’s biggest software registry and hosts more than 800,000 code packages.

Technically, NPM is a package manager of the JavaScript programming language. It is also the default package manager of Node.js, which provides a JavaScript runtime environment for server-side development.

It consists of a command-line client called npm for downloading those modules and also hosts both public and private packages online.

You generally learn about NPM when you learn nodejs, but even if you don’t know node, you should learn NPM. If you need a resource, I recommend Andrea Mead and Rob Percival’s The Complete Node.js Developer Course on Udemy, one of my favorite courses to learn Nodejs from scratch.

  1. VSCode

When it comes to code, the IDE is your most important tool, and as a Java developer, I always feel lucky that we have not one but three top-class IDE – Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJIDEA.

For a long, when I do web development, I think we don’t have any tools which can compete with IDEs like these.

No doubt that you can use them for web development, too, but it makes more sense for Web developers who use Java in the backend. Microsoft VSCode changed that thing and has come along as the most potent IDE or Editor for Web Development. Compared to those fat IDEs, VSCode is also very lightweight and highly configurable.

You have plugins for almost anything from developing frontend to connecting to a cloud-like AWS, Azure, and GCP and deploying your application.

If you want to become a proficient Web Developer in 2022, I suggest you learn VSCode in 2022, and if you already know, just learn more like shortcuts, new extensions, etc. If you need a resource, then John Papa’s The Visual Studio Code course on Pluralsight is the best one to start with.

  1. Chrome Developer Tools

This is another essential tool for Web Developers, particularly frontend developers. For a long time, I relied on the View Page Source option of Internet Explorer to figure out what’s going on on a particular web page, it’s an old story, but things have changed ever since Chrome took the market by storm in the last decade.

Now, almost 70% Web is browsed using Chrome. Many web developers don’t know that Chrome has a built-in debugging tool, know as Chrome Developer Tool. You can access this by right-clicking and clicking on “Inspect.”

This tool not only allows you to see raw HTML but also CSS, JavaScript libraries, and much more. You can even change the CSS classes on the fly and play with look and feel. I strongly recommend you to learn this tool in-depth, and if you need a resource, I recommend D*evTools Pro: Beginners to Expert* course on Udemy. It’s a good beginner-level course to start with the Chrome Developer tool.


  1. Postman

This is another absolutely must-know tool for Web Developers. Since today’s Web world is a Web of APIs, you need a tool that can help you to explore APIs, and there is no better tool than Postman for interacting with APIs. You can use Postman to send HTTP requests, access APIs, check their response header, and do much more.

It doesn’t matter if you connect to internal API or external APIs offered by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many other payment gateways, Postman is essential for exploring and understanding them. It’s also an excellent tool to test your own APIs.

You can get Postman as a Chrome extension or a desktop client. Again, I strongly recommend you to learn Postman if you need a resource check out this Postman Complete Guide: REST API Testing course by Valentin Despa on Udemy.

  1. GraphQL

As you know, most of the Web is driven by APIs, mainly REST APIs. One of the crucial jobs for a web developer is to either develop APIS as a backend developer or consumer those APIs as a frontend developer.

In both cases, you need to know how to interact with them. While REST is an easy and accessible way for developing APIS, it has some shortcomings for any practical web application like too many end-points to maintain and unwanted data to download and process.

GraphQL addresses that problem, and it’s already powering the next level of APIs development. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, I recommend you to learn GraphQL in 2022, and if you need a resource, I suggest you take a look at the GraphQL with React: The Complete Guide course by none other than Stephen Grider, one of Udemy’s best instructor.

That’s all about how to become a frontend developer in 2022. These are the essential technologies for any web developer, but particularly frontend developers. There is a good chance that you already be familiar with many of these technologies like the big three of web development – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Still, they keep evolving like CSS now have FlexBox and Grid, JavaScript has ES6 and WebAssembly, etc. Spending some time keeping yourself up-to-date will go a long way in becoming a better web developer.

In this article, I have tried to mention the most essential things, but as a Web developer, you also need to learn a lot. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but things like HTTP, SSL, Certificates are also essential.

If you’re going to in more detail, I also recommend you check the following Web Developer RoadMap, which includes a lot more things a Web Developer should learn.

  1. Understand Application Program Interfaces (APIs)

As a professional frontend developer, you should be familiar with APIs and how to consume and manipulate them. This is critical for communicating with backend logics and databases.

To interact with APIs in JavaScript, you’ll mostly use the browser’s Fetch API or the Axios library. This article explains how to use the Fetch API in JavaScript.

  1. Learn and Understand JavaScript/CSS Libraries

Today, there are numerous JavaScript libraries available, all of which aim to make web application development easier. These are pre-written JavaScript scripts that make developing JavaScript-based applications easier.

There are have a lot of them, but it’s best to pick one and learn it thoroughly, such as React, Vue, or Angular (three of the most popular). You can check out freeCodeCamp’s frontend libraries development certification course to learn more.

There are also have some style libraries that make styling your web pages simple, such as Bootstrap, Sass/Scss, Tailwind, and so on.

  1. Build an online portfolio

Building your portfolio is an easy way to demonstrate your expertise as a front-end developer.

If you’re just starting out as a front-end developer, you don’t have to have every piece of your portfolio be a client project. You can take charge and be inventive. Make use of new tools and libraries to create something spectacular. As your career progresses, you will be able to highlight more projects on which you have worked.

You can also look through the portfolios of your fellow front-end developers to see what you like and dislike. Then, knowing what you want to show the world, create your own website.

Here’s a fun course that will help you build your own portfolio site with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – so you can practice those web dev skills.

You can also have friends and members of the community critique and test your site to ensure that everything looks good. Don’t forget that all of the words on your website should be assisting you in landing a great job. You don’t want it to be too long or too boring.

Here’s are some tips that’ll help you level up your developer portfolio to really make it stand out.

  1. Cultivate your soft skills

Front-end developers must be effective communicators (written and verbal) because they must interact with both the technical team and the client.

They must also be excellent communicators within their code, as it is critical to take the time to comment and write appropriate documentation within your code so that you and others can easily understand it even after a long time.

Front-end developers should also have good attention to detail and be meticulous in all aspects of their work. They must have a keen eye and be able to catch small errors or inconsistencies when creating web pages.

And front-end developers must be lifelong learners, because websites are evolving and expectations for responsiveness, accessibility, and appearance are always changing. Front-end engineers must stay as current as they’re able and will almost certainly need to learn new code languages or libraries over time.

  1. Start applying for internships or jobs you want

Once you have gained proper knowledge of frontend by learning necessary skills and building a simple résumé, you can now begin to search for front-end job opportunities.

Check out their requirements to see what other areas you need to improve in as a front-end developer.

Finally, always apply for jobs, and never be afraid to apply. This will give you some experience to help you learn how companies hire and what it takes to be hired.


What’s the Future of Front End Developers?

Overall, the future looks bright for anyone who wants to become a front end developer. The latest studies predict that by 2020, there will be a deficit of approximately 1 million developers in the United States alone. The rest of the world will have it even worse, according to similar studies.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web developer employment in the US is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. The rate is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Although these numbers seem incredible, if you pause and consider the times, it’s not so surprising. Increased Internet usage, especially in the mobile field, means a greater need for user interfaces, which in turn means more front end developer jobs. Web development is a field whose potential is tied closely to the Internet’s popularity, and the latter is surging with no signs of letting up. If you want to go where the jobs are, then look no further.

What soft skills should a front-end developer have?

Because of the need to interface with both the technical team and the client, front-end developers need to be excellent communicators. It’s often necessary to use both written and verbal communication. Developing slide decks of proposals, wireframes, and the current progress are necessities for many projects. Conference calls to discuss the project are also a common occurrence.

But human-to-human communication is just one aspect. Front-end developers also need to be great communicators within their code. This skill could fall under either technical or soft skill categories. Even if you land a job without the need for teammates, it’s still important to take the time to comment within your code and write appropriate documentation. If you need to come back to something months or years later, you’ll be glad you took the time to explain your program.

Front-end developers also need to be meticulous in all aspects of their work. When they create web pages, they need to have a keen eye and attention to detail. Because what they work on is seen by the end-user, all of their work needs to be useful and precise. In other words, they need to have high standards for their work, which doesn’t just need to function as promised — it needs to look great, too.

Finally, developers must be lifelong learners. Websites continue to evolve, and expectations for responsiveness, accessibility, and appearance continue to demand more from developers. Front-end engineers need to stay on top of developments and will likely have to learn new code languages or libraries over the years. Being adaptable, creative, and enjoying the learning process are all skills that will make a front-end developer a true company asset.

How to write a front-end developer resume

After learning the skills you need for the career, it’s time to put it all down on paper. The purpose of a resume is to showcase who you are professionally so you can land an interview for a front-end developer job. Even if you are applying for a junior developer position, it’s important to capture the applicable skills on your resume.

You worked hard to take courses and practice your skills building websites. Maybe you even designed a few websites for friends and acquaintances so you could build up your portfolio. None of that will get seen unless you put it on your resume. Jot down the programming languages you learned, the courses you completed successfully, and any relevant prior work experience.

Even if your previous jobs weren’t in front-end development, you should note down where you used to work and your accomplishments. This will show your prospective employer that you are a great employee and know how to solve problems — a key skill for any developer.

The most important thing on your resume is to make sure the skills for your new job are highlighted. Make a bulleted list of the coding languages you know. Put your portfolio website link at the top of your resume with your contact details. List out all the courses and certificates you achieved on your way to preparing for your first front-end developer job.

How to interview for a front-end developer position

Keep in mind that every company and position will have a different set of requirements and steps for their technical interview process. Some may even ask you to take a technical skills test before they call you for the interview.

The great news here is that you can prepare for these skills tests and interview questions. The first way you can brush up on your code is to take an online course in the codes that your new job needs. For example, you could take a short course on HTML or CSS (or both). Built into the courses are small assignments and quizzes that will act as practice for the real deal in the interview.

Another way to prepare is simply to Google what types of questions you might be expected to answer in your technical interview. You’ll find resources and lists of possible questions to answer. Here are a few examples you can use to practice:

  • How would you approach a new project using the principles of user-centered design?
  • If you had to continue a project using someone else’s code, how would you proceed?
  • Which browser do you find most challenging to work with? Why?
  • What do you love most about HTML5? Have you used it recently in a project?
  • What are the most important aspects of a website?
  • What skills have you learned recently to help you stay up to speed as a front-end developer?
  • Can you explain the CSS box model?
  • What are HTML meta tags?
  • What is a CSS rule?

Our advice is to spend an hour each night before your interview practicing the answers to these questions, or ones that might be more specific to the job you are applying for. Another way to stay sharp and have the answers on the tip of your tongue is to stay current with your reading. Subscribe to a couple of good blogs or participate in conversations on coding forums. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s new and having discussions with other developers will help you in the technical interview.

Lastly, continue practicing your front-end development skills. Build the website you’ve been thinking about for a while. Update those few pages that you know you could optimize. Try using a new CSS library to challenge yourself and learn along the way. The best way to solidify learning is to put it to good use. You’ll remember the lessons you learn from mistakes and new challenges far easier this way than you will if you just read or research.


Building a front-end developer portfolio

Building your portfolio is a way to easily prove that you know what you are doing as a front-end developer. If you’re just getting started on your learning journey as a front-end developer, you don’t need to have every piece of your portfolio be a client project. You can take the reins and get creative. Try using new tools and libraries to design something amazing. As you get further into your career, you can highlight more projects that you’ve worked on.

When we spoke with John, the front-end developer at Smartsheet, he gave us an easy way to start our portfolio. A personal website can be both a framework for highlighting future work and a display of your skills.

“One way to get started is just building your own personal website. Your website can be an expression of who you are and what you want to do. Once you’re done, it’s a great way to market yourself, saying, “Hey look, I built this awesome website. Imagine what I can build for you next!”

You can also check out your fellow front-end developers’ portfolios online to see what you do and do not like. Then create your own website knowing what you’d like to show the world. You can also have your friends and community members critique and test your site to make sure everything looks good.

Don’t forget that all the words you use on your site should be helping you land a great job. You don’t want it to be wordy or boring. Building copywriting skills by going through this design process will also make you an even more prepared front-end developer.

How long does it take to become a front-end developer?

That’s the million-dollar question, really. The answer is — it depends. Some people start their learning with a base knowledge of coding, perhaps in a different language or in a different setting. They will be able to pick up concepts a little bit quicker.

Other people are starting from square one with their coding, so it’ll take them a bit longer to master the skills required to become a front-end developer. Similarly, some people are devoting their full-time working hours to learning new coding skills, while others are learning in the small windows of time they have between work and life commitments.

The point here is to not compare yourself to anyone else. Set some time aside each week or day to learn, try your best to stick with that, and then celebrate. But don’t fret — we’re not going to leave you without an estimated timeline.

It’s completely reasonable to build the skills, portfolio, and experience you need to become a front-end developer in less than a year. Some people who have the time and baselines skill set can prepare for and get their first job in six months. The important thing is to go at a pace that you can sustain for the long haul. You want to have fun learning your new coding skills and not feel rushed. If you enjoy the process, you’ll be in a better headspace to learn.

The languages and tools you need to become a front end developer



HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are the most basic building blocks of web coding. The 2021 Stack Overflow survey(opens in a new tab) found that 56 percent of professional developers use HTML and CSS extensively in their work. Without these two skills, you can’t create a website design — all you’d have is unformatted plain text on the screen. In fact, you can’t even add images to a page without HTML!

HTML was actually only invented in the 1980s even though computers have been around for much longer. Tim Berners Lee(opens in a new tab) developed his first hypertext system, “Enquire,” in 1980 for his own use. With a background in text processing, real-time software and communications, Tim started the WorldWideWeb project at CERN(opens in a new tab) in 1989.


JavaScript lets you add a ton more functionality to your websites, and you can create a lot of basic web applications using nothing more than HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (JS for short).

At the most basic level, JS is used to create and control things like maps that update in real time, interactive films, and online games. Sites like YouTube(opens in a new tab) use a lot of JavaScript to make their user interface easy to use (the fact that the page doesn’t reload whenever you Save to Playlist is thanks to JavaScript!).

Fun fact: JavaScript is the most popular language for professional developers — 69% of professional developers use it regularly in their work(opens in a new tab).


jQuery is a JavaScript library: a collection of plugins and extensions that makes developing with JavaScript faster and easier. It’s also used by 77.3 percent of all websites(opens in a new tab) on the Internet! Rather than having to code everything from scratch, jQuery is like shorthand for JavaScript, which allows you to use all the cool functions of JavaScript without having to write out all the JavaScript code for yourself). You can use jQuery for things like countdown timers(opens in a new tab), search form autocomplete(opens in a new tab), and even automatically-rearranging and resizing grid layouts.(opens in a new tab)


What frameworks and tools do front end engineers use?

If you don’t know what a framework is, it’s a pre-built structure that is designed in accordance with programming best practices, and lets you get started on a coding project quickly without having to do all the setup yourself.

Think of building websites and web apps like building a house — when you set out to build a house, you could create all of your own building materials from scratch and start building without any schematics, but that approach would be incredibly time-consuming and doesn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s more likely that you would purchase pre-manufactured building materials (wood, bricks, countertops, etc.) and then assemble them based on a blueprint to fit your specific needs.

Coding is very similar. When you set out to code a website, you could code every aspect of that site from scratch, but there are certain common website features that make more sense to apply from a template — if you need a wheel, for instance, it’s a lot more sensible to buy one than it is to reinvent it. And that’s where frameworks come into play. You’ll never have to start from scratch again!


JavaScript frameworks (including Angular, Backbone, Ember, Vue.js, and React) give a ready-made structure to your JavaScript code. So many companies use JavaScript frameworks to build their sites that many front end developer jobs require experience with frameworks(opens in a new tab).

There are different types of JavaScript frameworks for different needs, though the five mentioned are the most popular in actual job listings (especially React, which is why we’ve included it in our Break Into Tech program).


CSS and front end frameworks (the most popular front end framework is Bootstrap(opens in a new tab)) do for CSS what JS Frameworks do for JavaScript: they give you a jumping-off point for faster coding. Since so much CSS starts with exactly the same elements from project to project, a framework that defines all of these for you upfront is super valuable.


Preprocessors are another element that a front end developer can use to speed up CSS coding. A CSS preprocessor adds extra functionality to CSS to keep our CSS scalable and easier to work with. It processes your code before you publish it to your website, and turns it into well-formatted and cross-browser friendly CSS. Sass and LESS are the two most in-demand preprocessors.


This has been a long journey into front end web development, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re looking for some rest!

Actually, though, we’re going to talk about a technical REST: REpresentational State Transfer.(opens in a new tab) It’s a simple set of guidelines and practices that sets expectations so you know how to communicate with a web service, which is any type of service you can access through a website.

For example, when you go to weather.com and look at a widget that displays the temperature, it asks the web service (for example, NOAA) what the weather is at a specific location. The web service will reply with the information, communicate it with weather.com through the web, and weather.com displays the result.

When you call a RESTFUL API, you’re sending a request to a specific address to retrieve information. Let’s say you wanted to write an app that shows you all of your social media friends in the order in which you became friends. You could make calls to Facebook’s RESTful API to read your friends list and return that data. Your API call can be as simple as “https://www.facebook.com/friendslist?user=janedoe&timestamp=true” and it will return Jane Doe’s friend list and when you became friends.

As a front end web developer, you could call Twitter’s API as well (Twitter also uses RESTful APIs). The general process is the same for any service that uses RESTful APIs, only the data returned will be different.

RESTful APIs make a web service perform better, scale better, work more reliably, and be easier to modify or move.


Short FAQs

  1. How to become a front-end developer without a degree?

In the past, you were required to have a Computer Science, IT, or Software Engineering degree in order to become a developer. We have come a long way from that where if you have the required skills, it doesn’t matter where you learned them. You can learn on your own or through structured certification courses. If you are completely new to front-end development, you can start with beginner courses and move on to more advanced topics.

  1. How to become a front-end developer from scratch?

Here are some things you need to do in order to become a front-end developer from scratch:

  • Learn the three basic web development programming languages – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (all easy to learn)
  • Practice building your own websites and other projects to build up your portfolio
  • Join a community of developers such as GitHub to stay up to date
  • Learn additional skills, relevant tools, and code libraries
  • Get familiar with front-end frameworks
  1. How to become a front-end developer in 3 months?

There is no shortcut to becoming a front-end developer. While some may be devoting their full time to learning new coding skills, some may be learning it during the little time they have between work and other life commitments. However, some people are able to pick up coding concepts a little bit quicker than others. The key to balancing it is to set aside some time each day to learn. The most important thing is to have fun with it and not rush yourself. If you enjoy the learning process, you will be in a much better space to learn it quicker than most.

What is the difference between front-end and back-end web development?

Front-end refers to the client-side of an application; back-end development refers to the server-side of an application. Front end is what users see and interact with; back end is the part of the website users don’t see or interact with.

What is the work environment like for a front-end developer?

Front-end developers generally work standard business hours in an office setting. They spend many hours sitting at a desk on the computer. They may also work from home depending on the company or organization they work for.

What are some occupations related to front-end developers?

The occupations that are similar to front-end developers are computer programmers, computer network architects, graphic designers and information security analysts.







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