How to become a frontend developer

A roadmap to becoming a frontend developer and valuable resources to kickstarting your journey

How to become a frontend developer
The global demand for developers is on the rise

Frontend web development is the practice of coding CSS, HTML, and JavaScript to create interfaces for websites and applications. Front-end developers have a strong understanding of user experience (UX) and how to design interfaces that are both accessible and appealing.

One of the ways we interact with the internet is through websites. They range from business, e-commerce, entertainment, educative, portfolio, membership, streaming and media. These sites need to be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate and user-friendly.

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Web development and web applications can be divided into two major aspects: the front end and the back end.

Frontend is concerned with the aspect the user can interact with and see. She can perform operations such as clicking a button/drop-down, scrolling through a page, filling out a form, and so on. This side of web development is known as the client-side functionality.

Backend refers to what occurs behind the scenes, such as infrastructure, database connection and scripting, and so on. This side of web development is known as the server-side functionality. Full stack refers to a combination of frontend and back end.

Since frontend work is done in browsers, proficiency in cross-browser compatibility is crucial. Standard Front-end development tools include Text editors (vs code, atom, Sublime Text), browsers like Chrome Developer Tools, Collections of javascript frameworks like jQuery and ajax, and CSS frameworks (such as bootstrap, tailwind CSS, material UI, Sass and CSS). Modern applications also use frontend javascript frameworks Angular.js, React js and Vue js to handle front-facing requests and views.

Users see and interact with this part of the website or web application. They code the web page's layout, create photo galleries, build menus, and control how photos and articles are displayed.

They make the website aesthetically pleasing, and user-friendly and test it to make sure everything is working.

What skills do you need to be a Frontend developer?

Becoming a frontend developer requires both formal education and on-the-job experience. Most frontend developers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, there are many ways to break into the area, and many front-end developers have self-taught themselves through online resources and boot camps.

To be a Frontend Developer, you must have a strong understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You should also be able to use various frameworks and libraries, such as React or Angular.

Frontend developers need to have strong communication skills. They need to be able to work closely with designers and Backend Developers to create a functional and user-friendly website or application. They should also be able to explain their ideas clearly and concisely.

Frontend Developers need to be able to work independently and take the initiative. They should be able to problem-solve and troubleshoot issues during the development process. Overall, Frontend Developers need a potent mix of technical and interpersonal skills. If you have these skills, you may have what it takes to be a Frontend Developer.

How to become a frontend developer

There’s no straight-line method to becoming a frontend developer but having a basic knowledge of Javascript, HTML, and CSS is essential. If you are just starting out, here’s a roadmap you can follow to become a frontend developer:

Code for a minimum of one hour daily

There’s no substitute for practice. Regardless of the amount of studying you do, implementing is the only thing that would count at the end of the day. Therefore, spend at least 1 hour every day implementing consistently.

Participate in code challenges/hackathons

A coding challenge is a programming task that tests the ability of a frontend engineer. Hackathons are tech coding events that bring developers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program.

These activities are great ways to test your skills and abilities as a frontend developer. You will also build soft skills like leadership, mentoring, teamwork and communication.

Build a portfolio

A portfolio is crucial for front-end web developers because it helps demonstrate a small part of their skills to potential employers. All of the projects on the portfolio don't have to be client projects. You can reinvent an already existing website by looking at what could be improved upon. Then make it better.

Never stop learning

Learning never stops for a Frontend developer because new tools, languages, approaches and technologies are introduced every day. So to avoid falling behind, you need to always upgrade your knowledge with books, courses, and videos. This will help you to keep updating your knowledge and staying in the loop of the latest innovations.

Join Frontend developer communities

Joining a community of like minds is a smart way to get all the support you need in your journey to becoming a proficient front-end developer. People in the community can provide you with relevant learning resources, update you with the latest industry trends and help you land career-accelerating opportunities.

There are a ton of these communities online. Some of them are Andela developer community, Github, Stack Overflow, FreeCodeCamp developer community.

Free resources to learn frontend development

There are a ton of resources online for anyone who wants to learn Frontend development. Books, blogs, videos, courses, the list is endless. However, to cut through the chase, here are valuable sources to learn and master the skill of Frontend development.

Videos

Traversy Media: This channel provides valuable web development technology insights that are available for frontend, backend, and full-stack developers.

FreeCodeCamp.org: One of the largest YouTube channels on programming, web technologies and everything relating to coding.

The Net Ninja: With over 1,000 videos, Net Ninja provides short, straight-to-the-point videos to learn web development and a wide range of other topics.

Techsith: If your goal is to pass your next job interview on Frontend technologies like CSS, Javascript or React and you want to learn advanced topics in depth.

Colby Fayock: This channel provides insightful knowledge on Javascript, React and static web.

Courses

W3schools.com: W3schools.com uses simple illustrations and easy-to-understand examples to take the learner from the basic level up to the advanced level.

Sololearn: This site provides bite-sized beginner-friendly resources for anyone learning frontend development. It covers topics such as Java, Javascript, C++, HTML and so on.

FreeCodeCamp: FreeCodeCamp’s well-structured curriculum can take a total beginner level to a very confident level.

CodeAcademy: The platform offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages to help you acquire tech skills.

Edx.org: Edx is a massive open online course provider created by Harvard and MIT. It provides free courses on a wide range of topics including Frontend development courses.

Books

HTML and CSS: Design and build websites, by Jon Duckett: If you are just starting your journey learning HTML and CSS, then this book will be valuable.

Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke: The author of this book teaches readers how to write code in a beautiful and effective way.

The Road to React by Robin Wieruch: Teaches the fundamentals of React in a clean, pragmatic, no-nonsense way.

Fullstack Vue by Hassan Djirdeh, Nate Murray and Ari Lerner: The book includes many technical examples and explanations to impart the Vue language in an understandable manner.

Sams Teach Yourself HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by Jennifer Kyrnin and Julie Meloni: The book’s clear, step-by-step instructions and practical hands-on examples will guide the beginner through learning to use HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Wrap Up

As long as a website remains relevant, the demand for frontend developers will keep rising. Your journey to becoming a frontend developer should not be a sprint but a marathon. There are a lot of other resources available online that you can use in your journey. But don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. With focus, commitment and consistency you’d reach your goal.