Want to be a Kickass Front End Developer? Get Started now!

Being a developer in today’s world can be hard. But it is an ocean of opportunities and one only needs to be equipped with the right tools to make it through. There are many paths to choose from, if you are making your first major decision in choosing tech stack.

Being a front end developer is one of the hottest and more lucrative employment options. Demand for good developers is always high, but front end developers always add value.

In general, a front end developer is a web developer focusing on code run by the browser. A good front end dev with 2 years of experience bags around 6–10 LPA.

In general, you need the following traits to check your potential at web development:

  • Ability to Visualize concepts
  • Thoroughness
  • Interest in Design and Aesthetics
  • Ability to communicate and understand things.

As mentioned earlier, Front End is everything to do with things browsers interpret. The main technologies you have to deal with are: HTML, CSS and Javascript. Each one of them serves a different purpose and we will discuss each one of them in detail.

Learn the basics of Front End (HTML & CSS)

There is no other way about it. You want something to interpreted by the browser, you need it to be in a language it understands. And this language, is a technology called HTML.

Let me put it this way, if HTML is the skeleton of your website. CSS is the muscle on top. While a barebone structure will allow you to have a website, to make it look presentable, you use CSS. But worry not, it only takes an hour to get started with both of these technologies.

There are a lot of online courses and material to get you jumpstarted on this path. And the basics, will take you a few weeks to master. Because, as long as the basic structure is good, you can always build on top of it to add functionality.

Here are a few courses to start off with:

Free Courses

Codecademy

FreeCodeCamp.com

Khan Academy

Udemy

SoloLearn (HTML) SoloLearn(CSS)

Dash

Web Accessibility

The Hello World

Sitepoint

Paid

ChalkStreet (HTML & CSS)

ChalkStreet(Web Development Course)

Treehouse (HTML) Treehouse (CSS)

Tutsplus

The best way to start learning would be by making a skeleton framework and adding bits and pieces to it. Try this online editor codepen.io which allows you to code and edit things on the playground. Not only that, you will also have access to all three elements of a lot of developers’ projects.

Improve your Design Capabilities

Well, a lot of people overlook this aspect. As good as implementing a design may make you, you still need to come up with designs. That requires a different kind of mindset. A lot of good developers have given up on front end development due to their inability to come up with amazing designs. It is one thing to be able to code the most amazing designs, but if you cannot come up with a few of them yourself, you should reconsider.

A few basic things can include choosing a complementary set of colours that align with the site structure. Getting the elements in the right place and things like that are the basic blocks of getting the right design. Sites like Color Calculator help you choose the right colour combination with any harmony you wish.

  • As a Front-end Engineer is is essential to understand about what you can and can’t do. If a designer is going down a road that is not going to translate on the web, say something sooner rather than later.
  • Get involved in the process from the start. Help brainstorm design ideas that will work with the UX.

Start Building

Now that you’ve got yourself used to the small things in UI Elements. It is time to graduate to the big league. Elements are fine, but they are still only going to be parts of a larger and much complex web page.

If you consider HTML and CSS to be like a lake, Javascript is a huge Ocean. The possibilities with the robust language are endless. With frameworks coming left and right, now is the best time to jump onboard that ship. With frameworks like jQuery, Angular2.0, ReactJs taking a whole lot more preference, it is almost a necessity for every front end developer to know them.

Know thy Tools

I am referring to the tools that you are going to be using to get our work done. MVCs like Git and editors like Atom are open source based. These tools provide you with great ways to build your projects. It is better to familiarize yourself with at least one of the tools in each category to have an advantage.

Learn Basics of Back End

Well, this is a no brainer. Some people might think why do we have to do backend stuff when learning about Front-end. Well, it is the knowledge of the “other” that differentiates a good dev from a great dev. Considering the fact that you will be working with a team of backend guys, it is best if you at least understand the basics of how it works. And more importantly, how it affects your project design or interaction.

Also, that one time, instead of waiting for them to get small things done. You could do it yourself. Imagine all the time you can save. Add to it the satisfaction of doing something by yourself is always amazing. There are only two things that concern the backend that usually impact a front end developer:

  • API calls- Application program interface (API) is a set of procedures, protocols, and tools for building software applications. You can read more here about what APIs are.
  • JSON Data- JSON is a syntax for storing and exchanging data. JSON is text, written with JavaScript object notation. You can find out more and learn about JSON here.

You are the communication medium

As a front end developer, if you do not understand what your team tells you, there is no way that you can visualize what they want you to build. That is a recipe for certain disaster. Take notes if necessary, ask again if you do not understand. But do not go in with half an idea of what they want you to make. Ask questions, and loads of them if needed. Do not rush into decisions where doubt exists. Take your time, but get it right.

Remember that you are the cog that keeps the QA, Clients and Developers connected. This is exactly why communication is something I keep stressing on, every chance I get. You have the added pressure of getting the interpretation right, so that the design is correctly translated to the web page with the functionality needed.

Practise, Practise and then Practise some more

It goes without saying, “Rome was not built in a day”. As fast as you may grasp the basics of a language, true mastery only comes with practise. Specially with something like Web Development, those words couldn’t be truer. Keep at it every chance you get, and in a couple months time, you will be at the level you wish to.

Summary

One of the greatest bits of advice for all budding front-end developers is The “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” that highlights four principles that all web designers, web developers and interaction designers should live by.

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

Nothing comes easy, and being a developer isn’t easy by any means. In the words of a valiant Wizard (Mad eye Moody), “Constant Vigilance” is how you get to your goal. Do not give up when things get tough, just keep going. The results may be slow to show, but they will show. And remember, you need to have patience, and loads of it to break into this field.

The web is the fastest evolving universe, vast and confusing at times. But the advent of new technologies, means that there is no respite for the learning. You can no longer be content with mastering what you know. You need to be constantly updated with the latest technologies to keep up with the pace.

Feel confident about your abilities already? Head over to Xobin and find out if our bot concurs with you. Mind you, it is very competitive about labelling someone as good.

This is the first post in a series of 3 posts about Front End Developers and Development. Stay tuned for the coming posts.