The Role of a Front-End Web Developer: Creating User Experience & Interactivity

Creating User Experience & Interactivity

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Your website is a sum of layers structure, data, design, content, and functionality. Creating that user-facing functionality is the job of a front-end developer. Using a combination of markup languages, design, and client-side scripts and frameworks, the front-end developer creates the environment for everything that users see and touch: content, layout, and interaction.

When hiring a front-end developer, it’s helpful to have a broad view of how the front end of a site functions, what a front-end developer does, their responsibilities, and what their skills can contribute to your project.

Where Creativity & Innovation Collide: A Look at a Site’s Front-End

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The front-end developer creates interaction and user experience with scripts embedded in a site’s HTML. Everything a visitor to your site sees, clicks, or uses to input or retrieve information is the work of the front-end developer who creates client-side software that brings the site’s design to life. Scripts are downloaded by the browser, processed, and then run apart from the server.

This takes equal parts technology and vision. Front-end developers are the bridge between the designer and the back-end programmer, which means they have to be both creative and tech-savvy. Wondering how a designer’s final design becomes a living, breathing site? That’s front-end code in action code that breaks the design down into components, then delivers information and functionality made possible by the back-end developer.

Overall, they’re creating a web-based application that comes as close to a desktop experience as possible. Their focus is on user experience, and the technology they implement will hinge on how well it accomplishes that speed, efficiency, and smooth functionality.

The Front-End Developer’s Skill Set

Everything on the front end is built with a mix of HTML, CSS, and client-side scripts like JavaScript the core elements of front-end development. The front-end developer bridges the world of design and technology, bringing design to life and packaging up the utility of the back end in a modern, inviting way for users to interact with.

You may require some crossover knowledge from your front-end developer. If you need interdisciplinary skills visual design, back-end development, or even database design look for someone with a working knowledge of languages like SQL, Java, PHP, Ruby, and the .NET framework.

Generally, a front-end web developer’s services include:

  • Tailoring user experience
  • Bringing a designer’s concept to life with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Production, modification, and maintenance of websites and web application user interfaces
  • Creating tools that enhance how users see and interact with your site in any browser
  • Implementing responsive design for mobile sites
  • Contributing some back-end experience, collaborating on APIs, and more
  • Maintaining software workflow management with a project management tool like GitHub and task runners like Grunt and Gulp
  • Consulting on SEO best practices
  • Testing the site during development for usability and fixing any bugs

Front-End Languages

Popular client-side languages that front-end developers use regularly and should know include

  • JavaScript: With its frameworks and libraries, it’s the core of Web 2.0 any website that isn’t just static text. It was the first client-side language and is still the most ubiquitous client-side script on the web.
  • HTML5: HTML dictates a site’s organization and content, all interaction aside, so it’s something every front-end developer needs to know. HTML elements can annotate footers, headers, how text displays, how media and images appear, and more.
  • CSS3: The latest standard for cascading style sheets (CSS), CSS3 is broken into modules and comprises the code for every graphic element from backgrounds to font that make up the look and feel of a website.
  • AJAX: JavaScript + XML, it allows specific parts of a site to be updated without a full-page refresh by asynchronously connecting to the database and pulling XML-based chunks of data.

What Front-End Developers Make

Speaking of salaries, front-end web developers have one of the most bankable skill sets on the job market today. According to Glassdoor, the national median salary for front-end developers tops more than $75,000. In markets where the competition for top tech talent is fierce, the median salary can climb above $100,000.

“For a mid-level front-end developer here in New York,” Pugh said, “it’s pretty standard to see salaries that start in the low $100,000s.” For entry-level developers, salaries are still extremely competitive and often far higher than other entry-level roles.