6 Essential Skills for a Front End Developer

Just a few years ago, most employers were looking for ‘full stack’ developers: developers who could move from the front end to the back end with ease. Today, though, more and more employers are switching back to dedicated front end developers to improve user experience and usability. If you’re focused on front end development, there are a few skills that are going to be critical to your development as a professional.

1. Being Current in HTML

HTML isn’t as static as many developers believe. In fact, in recent years HTML formatting has changed significantly, in order to provide better compatibility and more consistent markup. It’s absolutely important for developers to be current on the most recent version of HTML; as of now, it’s HTML5.

2. Brushing Up on CSS and JavaScript

Like HTML, CSS and JavaScript both frequently change. Over the past decade, both CSS and JavaScript have become firmly entrenched as the languages of choice for front end development. Though new languages have been developed, CSS and JavaScript are still the most likely to be required by an employer.

3. Being Able to Create Cross-Platform Sites

Today’s front end developers are developing for an extremely wide array of platforms. Desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and other devices all need to have an accessible, professional, and polished GUI. Cross-platform sites have moved beyond simple responsive designs. They also need to take advantage of the features of each platform, such as the ability to swipe, pinch, and pull.

4. Providing Optimized, High Resolution Multimedia

Front end developers need to be able to provide a variety of media, from gifs to videos. Videos in particular are becoming more common on websites as users now have more bandwidth. More importantly, multimedia has to be properly optimized through the front end or it will cause issues for the back end. Front end developers should also be familiar with technology such as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which can provide better performance.

5. Quickly Creating Mockups and Prototypes

Websites are getting more complex. The art of quickly creating a mockup or a prototype is absolutely critical for a front end developer. A front end developer often has to produce multiple mockups before their designs are accepted by their clients. Clients will also require prototypes to fully understand how the website will work. Otherwise there can be confusion that will later lead to revisions.

6. Interpersonal Skills

Finally, many developers forget that they also need solid interpersonal skills. More than back end developers, front end developers must frequently work directly with clients, interfacing them to determine what they want. Clients often can’t convey exactly what they need in technical terms. Front end developers need to be able to explain in layman’s terms what they can and cannot do, without getting frustrated.

Apart from specific knowledge of pre-processors and programming languages, front end developers need to be agile and willing to learn. However, the above skills are some of the most critical necessary to get interviews and land jobs. If you’re a front end developer currently looking for a position, consult with the carefully curated list of positions on Software Specialists today.

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