The demand for frontend developers has drastically spiked in recent years, simply because there are too many people that want a website, but not too many skilled people that can create a website on their own.
But, what exactly is frontend development and why should we pay attention to it?
What is frontend development?
When someone says “frontend dev”, what they usually mean is frontend web development or app development, which mainly focuses on the part of the website/application that users see on their end (also known as client-side).
Basically, a frontend web developer transforms the backend code into a graphical interface that users can see, use, and interact with without breaking the backend architecture of the application.
For a more detailed description, check out our ultimate guide on frontend development languages and how they differ from one another.
How popular is frontend development?
As I stated, frontend development is becoming increasingly popular in recent years all across the world.
However, to truly understand its impact and importance, we have to take a look at the most popular individual languages and frameworks and treat them like elements contained within the huge set that is frontend software development.
Angular, React.js, and Vue.js are the top 3
Typescript is the future
According to the same survey, Typescript is also the seventh most popular language among all respondents and the fifth most popular language among professional developers. In that light, it has earned a sizable chunk of the popularity of 30.19% and 36.42% out of 83.052 and 58.031 respondents respectively.
Svelte starts to gain popularity
Finally, a component-based JS framework dubbed Svelte is also gaining traction and starting to make its name in town.
Be on the lookout for Svelte developers if you aren’t monitoring these emerging frontend trends already.
Where to find quality frontend developers
Here are some of the most reliable places where you can find and hire a freelance frontend developer:
- Hired: A reliable website to find frontend, backend, and full-stack developers
- Upwork: Freelance talent coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences
- Dice: A dedicated tech board with over 3M professionals on the platform
- Gun.io: A very unique and quirky resource to find developers for your projects
- Proxify: This is us! We offer elite, vetted, and pre-screened professional developers available in mere days
- X-team: Offers on-demand developers to complete a variety of different projects
Other online resources where you can find quality developers include StackOverflow, GitHub, Reddit (with some persistence), and even tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush (performing keyword research, something like “find frontend developers near me”) if you’re proficient enough in SEO.
How to interview frontend developers
Today, however, that definition has clearly broadened to the dismay of few and jubilance of many. The modern duties, responsibilities, and expectations from a contemporary skilled frontend web engineer are as follows:
- Build, maintain and debug websites and web applications while following web design best practices
- Work together with backend developers to help integrate user interface elements with databases and APIs
- Be familiar with on-site search engine optimization (SEO), including the ability to optimize a website/app for performance and speed
- Write quality code, document accordingly and perform routine checks and test to ensure a smooth flow of operations inside the website/application
- Have the drive to constantly improve their existing skill set (including soft skills) and learn new ones accordingly
Top technical skills frontend developers should have
As a quick side note, some companies would require a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field in order to apply for a job as a developer (in any capacity). Some companies don’t require anything else except raw coding skills and problem-solving abilities, but having some kind of a developer-related certification is always a plus.
Here are some of the most important qualifications expected from a knowledgeable frontend developer:
- Good understanding of SEO principles and on-site practices
- Great proficiency with semantic HTML5 elements, WAI-ARIA, and microformats
- Great proficiency with CSS preprocessors (Sass, Less, or Stylus)
- Ample experience with cross-browser testing and compatibility
Naturally, I wanted to clear up some misconceptions about the frontend development service (and frontend development in general), so I reached out to the Proxify network of developers with a couple of questions which they happily answered.
My first question was more of an ice-breaker than anything, but I think it helped set the tone of the conversation nicely:
- What is the main difference between a frontend and a backend developer?
“Frontend developers are people who are working on user-facing details, or in other words, everything we see (client-side) such as application colors, animations, and lots more. All of this is done by frontend developers. On the other hand, backend engineers are working on stuff which is not visible for the users such as authentication, working with databases, and more things like that.”
Frontend development is programming that focuses on the visual elements of a website or app that a user will interact with. Meanwhile, backend development focuses on the side of a website users can't see.”
My second question was aimed more toward managers, clients, and other coworkers that don’t necessarily come from a tech background.
- What is the one thing that non-tech people often get confused about frontend developers?
Armen was straightforward in his answer:
“Frontend development is often confused with UI development, and sometimes people think that frontend developers are just doing a painting. But, nowadays, apart from UI and painting, there are also a lot of logical parts that need to be completed specifically by frontend developers.”
Ardit came in with a nice analogy:
“Everyone likes cars, or at least some of us do, haha. If we look at the website as we look at the cars we can see all the things they have in common. So, the frontend is the interior & exterior of a car while the backend is the engine of it. The user on the website is the driver of the car, so the driver still needs to push the pedals in order to drive the car. That's what frontend does for the website, it makes that engine (backend) run and operates from the perspective of the end-user.”
He continued: “With all that being said, frontend makes the data interact with the user; it creates automated actions that make it easier for the person who uses the website. Also, so we don’t forget, frontend development takes care of how the website (or web page) will look like.”
My third and final question was as follows:
- What are frontend developers mainly responsible for in the development process of a (web) application?
Armen’s last answer was short and applicable:
“The two main things frontend developers are responsible for are UI/UX and page speed performance.”
Ardit concluded in a concise manner:
“Frontend developers should be responsible for building pixel-perfect websites, keep users up to date with everything that happens on the website and give opinions on how to improve the user experience.”
How to test a frontend developer’s technical skills and eye for design
There are a number of technical questions that you can ask frontend devs to make sure they are skilled, proficient, and reliable developers. Here are several.
(1) How do you make sure that your website or application is accessible, user-friendly, and up to all the latest web development standards and best practices?
Expected answer: “I always make sure to test my websites and apps on all major browsers, devices and configurations to ensure the user experience is up to par on all of them. I employ the help of screen readers and other solutions to make sure my applications are accessible to all users. I stay up to date with all web dev best practices and use the latest language versions to reduce and eventually eliminate any room for error in my code. I use test-driven development regularly and often.”
(2) What are your favorite (and/or most used) HTML features, and how have you used them in your projects?
Expected answer: “I really appreciate how HTML5 handles multimedia support as opposed to its previous iterations. I often use this feature to craft an interesting, visually-appealing and responsive design that uses audio and video elements as a crucial part of the overarching website experience. It allows me to build freely without having to worry about bugs during loading time or encountering conflicts with other elements on the web page.”
(3) How do you adapt your CSS so other developers can easily work with your code?
Expected answer: “I arrange my stylesheets in sections, pairing each section with a corresponding component on the site. Plus, each section has comments, so when other developers are working on the code, they can easily change it, add to it, or scale it.”
(4) What are your favorite resources for adapting to the latest trends in frontend development and design?
Expected answer: I regularly participate in discussions on the StackOverflow forums. These resources help me immensely to learn and adapt to the latest trends in frontend development and design.
(5) What is a CSS float? Can you share some examples of how it's used?
Expected answer: The CSS float property puts an element on the right or left side of its container, thereby allowing inline elements (and text) to wrap around it without causing conflicts with other elements on the page. I often use floats when I’m working on a page that dynamically resizes based on the resolution of the user’s device.”
Why should you hire a frontend developer?
Website accessibility: Accessibility challenges are something that frontend developers are trained and know how to solve. It’s relatively easy to create a website that can be accessed by most users. But, how about creating one that can be accessed by all users regardless of their circumstances? Frontend devs are the best person for the job, as they are directly responsible for writing the parts of the website that users access and interact with in any conceivable capacity.
Website performance: According to website performance expert Steve Souders, between 80% and 90% of the user response time is allocated to the frontend. This means that only 10-20% of the website’s performance is reliant on the backend (server-side). If the web performance is slow and unreliable, users will quickly abandon the website and try other alternatives. That’s why it’s crucial to have good web performance, paired with a stellar UI (user experience), which inevitably leads to more traffic and, ultimately, improved revenue in the long run.
Web design: A quality frontend developer is a “hybrid” between a software engineer and an interface designer. They are able to take a raw graphical design pattern and translate it into a visually lustrous HTML experience that offers: accessibility, reliable web performance, easy maintenance, cross-device compatibility and responsive web design.
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What’s frontend development?
Frontend development is the process of creating websites, graphical interfaces for web apps, or entire web apps running in web browsers.
What is the frontend?
Frontend refers to the part of a website or web app functionality that is visible and accessible to users. The frontend usually includes HTML pages that display static content and JavaScrip code that generates dynamic content and powers animated UI elements.
What are the frontend languages?
What is the difference between frontend and backend web development?
Frontend and backend web development deal with different layers of web apps. The code that frontend developers write runs in users’ browsers. The code produced by backend developers runs on servers. In complex projects, frontend developers are responsible for user interfaces only. However, when it comes to building small projects, they can build the entire app. For example, a frontend developer can create a web app that doesn’t need a server and a database but have all its code running in the browser.
How do frontend and backend connect?
The frontend of an app or website can interact with its backend by sending HTTP or AJAX requests. In response, it can receive HTML and other static files or data in XML or JSON format.