Steps to Becoming a Front End Developer

What’s surprising to new designers is that there are many different types of design to pursue. One aspect of the design process is front end development. The front end developer specifically focuses on the user interface of a website. What this means is that they focus on the CSS, Javascript and HTML to get the site ready. This basically means that as a front end developer, you’re building the skeletal structure of a website. The question is, what does it take to become a front end developer?

Step 1: Learn Your HTML and CSS

Surprisingly, HTML isn’t a necessary skill for building websites anymore. Everything from web design, setting up web hosting, to using scripts is a matter of dragging and dropping or simply installing. There are so many tools that allow average people to build a website without knowing the language. Front end developers, however, will need to know the fundamentals of HTML and CSS because that’s the language used to build most user interface designs today. If you don’t have this knowledge, there are many online courses like Treehouse to help you get you up to speed.

Step 2: Learn jQuery Javascript and PHP

Front end developers will also be working with a lot of scripts. This is because many websites function off scripts and require a developer to integrate its functions into the user interface. If you’re a designer, you should already be familiar with JavaScript as it’s a language that integrates with HTML and can be used without installing a script onto your web hosting server (for simple scripts). jQuery is a Javascript library that allows you to create Javascript projects faster and do more with the language. PHP is another common scripting language that can embedded into HTML like the Javascript languages.

Step 3: Keep Learning and Start Designing

As you learn the core languages, you’ll start designing small elements of the user interface. But at some point, you’ll need to start designing full projects to build your experience. There’s a lot of back and forth that will go on during this process. You’ll find yourself going back to video tutorials and books to figure things out. It’ll also help to visit forums to ask for advice from other designers. The idea is to run into problems, make mistakes and learn from this whole ordeal so that you get it all out before you take on real project and not run into these issues in the middle of a real project.

Step 4: Get Familiar with the Tools

There are many tools that you’re going to need to use to make your job easier. First, you need the right CSS tools. A precompiler and a CSS frameworks should do the trick. A precompiler will help you organize and manage your code. CSS framework will help you optimize the workflow, making it easier to learn CSS and code it. Then there are other tools that like task runners, package management programs and other Javascript tools that help you adapt to different coding situations, organize all of your Javascript libraries and more. The idea is to pick one tool that takes care of one specific issue rather than using multiple tools for each type of task. It takes a bit of time to learn each tool, so focus on mastering one that you feel most comfortable with.

Step 5: Think Responsive Design

More companies are requesting a user interface that is based on responsive design. Responsive design is a design that adapts the website to the screen size of the device (tablet, desktop, smartphones, etc.). You have to understand that more users are coming in from mobile devices and companies need to make sure that they are serving these users properly. You need to be experienced with responsive design or you’ll lose out on many projects that call for it.

Step 6: Partner with Other Designers

One of the most important things that you need to be aware of is the fact that you can’t do it all. It takes many years of experience to have all the knowledge required to land every project. If you want to take on more projects, then the easy thing to do is to partner with other designers. Take a look at project requests and think about the skills that companies are asking for. Then, take a look at the skills that you are lacking. Look for designers/developers that have these skills and partner with them on these projects. You can work out a revenue share deal or simply return the favor for them.

Those are the steps that you’ll need to take to become a front end developer. You’ll find that every company will have different experience requirements for the projects. It’s just a matter of looking for the ones that suit your specific skillsets. Like everything else, it takes time to get to where you need to be.

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