Nowadays, businesses are not just expected to sell their services. They have to establish their branding and reputation online to get noticed. With this, more businesses are creating their websites and applications to build their brand and reach out to their customers.
Creating a working website and app, however, is not a simple task. Organizations usually hire a team of developers to take care of both the client-side (front-end) and server-side (back-end) of their system.
Front-end developers make sure that a company’s website is presentable and functional for its visitors. While some either hire a few in-house employees for this, others decide to outsource front-end development for their convenience.
What does a front-end developer do?
A front-end developer creates working websites and applications using design, programming codes, and technology.
While a web developer works on what a website looks like, a front-end developer ensures its functionality. They execute the designs and workflows to be used in a web page, making sure everything is working properly on the user’s end.
At the same time, they find ways to improve and maintain user experience. They continuously update a website’s interface to keep up with the trends and adapt to the changing demands of their visitors.
Front-end developer roles and responsibilities
The specific responsibilities of a front-end developer may vary depending on the needs of a company. However, some of their common tasks include the following.
- Debugging or finding and fixing a “bug” that affects a website’s performance
- Optimizing sites and apps to suit certain platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.)
- Ensuring compatibility on different web browsers such as Google Chrome
- Optimizing on-page SEO when needed
- Managing site workflows
- Bringing designs to life using programming codes
- Publishing the website on the internet
- Maintaining brand consistency on each web page
- Creating reusable templates for future use
What to look for in a front-end developer
While some developers secure their careers through self-learning, most companies look for certain qualifications to hire one. Here are some of the qualifications an applicant should possess to become a front-end developer.
Everyone can become a front-end developer even without a formal education. However, most employers usually look for at least a bachelor’s degree in technology-related fields. This includes computer science and programming.
Applicants looking to change careers or start without a degree are required to have strong knowledge of programming languages, tools, and frameworks to use. Short-term courses and certifications are available both online and in technical schools, whether free or paid.
Learning programming languages is most crucial to becoming a front-end developer. This is since they will mainly deal with these languages in building a website or software.
Some of the most used programming languages are the following:
- HTML. Short for HyperText Markup Language, HTML is essentially used to create web pages. It teaches a browser how a single element should be displayed or loaded on a website.
- CSS. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is used to program the layout and style of a web page. It uses markup languages such as HTML to make a page usable and presentable for visitors.
- SQL. Short for Structured Query Language. It is used to gather information on a page, update databases, and perform other related operations.
- Python. A high-level programming language known for its readability. It is one of the easier languages to learn for new coders yet widely used to build applications and systems.
Applicants are required to have programming language certifications to prove their proficiency in these languages.
A front-end developer should possess a solid foundation of both hard and soft skills to become efficient in the field. Aside from strong computer and programming language skills, a good front-end developer has the following competencies.
Basic search engine optimization (SEO)
Visitors to a website do not just appear out of thin air. As search engines such as Google “notice” a page, they make it more visible to audiences that look for a certain topic using keywords.
Companies usually have a separate team handling SEO. However, learning basic SEO is a plus for front-end developers to know where they will place certain elements, including titles and meta descriptions.
A good developer knows how to communicate well with their coworkers, whether written or verbal. They practice active listening, observing, writing, and empathizing with their teams to do their tasks better.
Front-end developers also know how to solve both programming and non-programming problems. This skill requires quick thinking and response to an issue using the knowledge, information, and data available to them.
Lastly, a front-end developer should be comfortable in using development tools and software. These tools help make programming faster and more efficient.
A lot of open-source and paid development tools are available online. While most of these tools are heavy in coding and frameworks, some of them have drag-and-drop elements to make their process easier.
In-house vs outsourced front-end developers
Web development becomes more in-demand with the increase in e-commerce stores and online businesses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that development jobs in the country will grow by 13% by 2030.
However, this demand cannot always be met by hiring in-house. Several factors can affect a company’s decision in getting local developers, including limited resources.
With this, small businesses resort to hiring outsourced front-end developers, whether through an IT firm or a BPO company. Outsourcing front-end development gives them better benefits in terms of the following.
A 2020 Stack Overflow survey showed that an average front-end developer earns at least US$110,000 per year. Most small businesses cannot afford to shell out this amount and other requirements they need for work, such as office spaces and desktops.
Through outsourcing, their US$110,000 investment can already give them a team of highly-skilled developers working in a controlled office, complete with high-speed connection and top equipment.
Companies even save up to 70% of their costs while increasing their profitability long-term.
A vast pool of talents
Hiring in-house developers has become increasingly difficult with the widening skill gap in most industries, including IT. Most businesses end up getting unqualified talents for a role, making their performance suffer.
Delegating development roles offshore gives access to better, more suitable talents for the job. Offshoring countries such as India and the Philippines produce millions of graduates entering the workforce each year.
This gives employers more options when looking for specific qualifications, skills, and expertise needed.
Organizations won’t always need a full team of developers to build and maintain a website. This is why hiring in-house is not always practical especially for bootstrapped companies looking to save costs.
Outsourcing gives a better option in scaling teams depending on their demand. Unlike a local developer, they can hire an offshore team on a project basis, in case they want to create new sites. They can even team up with their local counterparts for bigger projects.