Ever wondered how everything you see on a website got there?
If you are among those who are still racking their heads for the answer, worry no more, this is the work of front-end web developers. Front-end developers design User Interfaces and user experiences. These are all the features users can use and relate to. It also includes information and structure of the website, the layout, contrasts, colors, imageries, and fonts of the webpage.
User experience is not measured based on industrial designs, multi-touch or fancy images or fonts, it is measured based on transcending materials, based on creating a long-lasting experience through a device.
To become a front-end web developer, certain skills must be acquired. These skills are the preliminary skills a front-end developer must have. A knowledge of graphic design is a skill that is needed if you decide to be a front-end developer.
A front-end web developer has various functions and responsibilities which are required of him, some of them include; creation of response and user-friendly response design for mobile devices. They are tasked with the responsibility of creating tools that will enhance the way users see and interact with websites, they also produce, modify and maintain websites and web application user interface. Front-end web developers tailor user experience. They constantly test the site while developing.
Skills You Need to Become a Front-End Web Developer
Berner Lee was a contractor for CERN a tech company in 1980. While working there he built a prototype for ENQUIRE a system which allowed CERN workers to share and save documents. In 1990, Lee specified HTML, but couldn’t get funding from CERN to continue the project. The first public mention of HTML was in a document titled “HTML tag” which was published by Lee. The document contained 18 important elements of HTML.
HTML is a coding language that web developers use to compose and interpret text, images and other visual materials into audible or visual web pages. The knowledge of HTML is important because HTML dictates a site’s organization, concept and content. Elements of HTML includes writing of footers and headers, how to text, images, and media appearances on a webpage. HTML is an important and structural component of all the web pages on the internet. Whether it is agreed upon or not, without HTML there will be no web pages. It is quite interesting to note that when you must have learned how to code using HTML, the knowledge alone is enough to use in designing basic websites.
Style sheets compliment HTML, some experts have gone further to say that while HTML is like a face, CSS is the makeup. Primarily Cascading Style Sheets is charged with the responsibility of separating presentations, contents and other aspects such as; layout, font, and colors of web pages. Animations and more advanced styling can be done by CSS. By maintaining style sheets CSS makes web pages look unique and distinct from any other web page. Factors such as the screen size of the device and resolution affect the styling on web pages.
As noted earlier, those skills above are the non-negotiable skills an aspiring front-end web developer must have. We will then move on to others that are necessary but not non-negotiable, they include;
- CSS Framework: There are two popular CSS framework today, bootstrap and foundation. These framework helps web developer to choose the best and most favorable workflow with built in grids and other styling components.
- Precompilers: Precompilers are easy ways to make clean codes in maintaining organization. Precompilers promotes the “Don’t Repeat Yourself” principle. As an amateur in the front end web development, you are advised to use just one precompiler. Sass, Less and Stylus are the three precompilers we have
- Responsive design: As a CSS tool, responsive design helps build sites that work on all screen sizes.
Front-End Built Tools: This tool helps to manage file size optimization and workflow efficiency. Some of these tools can help too;
- Package managers can help you to arrange and organize libraries and assets
- Task runners can help to optimize and compress files.
CSS Preprocessors: CSS Propocessors helps in CSS coding. It processes codes before they are published and it, in turn, turns them into well formatted and cross-browser friendly. Less and Sass are the two Processors that are in demand now.
Mobile Design: According to statistic, more people make use of mobile devices than desktop computers. Mobile design and responsive design are sought after skills by employers because they deal with a website’s structural layout and change based on the device size a particular person is using. What this skill clearly entails will be illustrated, take for example, you use a computer to go to a website, you would clearly notice that the computer will have larger graphics, larger columns and a more interactive web page, but that would not be the case if you use a mobile device, there will be lesser interaction, lesser columns, and lesser graphics.
The experience you would love desktop users to have when they visit your site would not be the same user experience they would have when they use a mobile, that is where mobile design and responsiveness comes into play. This skill is an important skill that every Front-End web developer must have. Responsive design means looking for the best user interface for cross-browser (different browser), cross-platform (different operating system) and cross-device (different mobile device).
User interface and User experience are two design aspects every web developer must know, these designs spice up the website, it makes a site more user-friendly and each user with any device will surely experience a unique feeling.
Finally, as an aspiring front-end web developer, you must remember that the negotiable skills are the skills you can add overtime but the non-negotiable are the core skills you must strive to acquire first if you truly want to be a front-end web developer.