May 31, 2023
min read

What is a Frontend Developer?

Krissy Davis
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Frontend Developers are key players in today's digital world, responsible for creating website/app interfaces that captivate end users worldwide. Aspiring devs who want to join this dynamic field need access to reliable information, which we provide here! 

Our article breaks down all things "Frontend", covering basics such as HTML/CSS/JavaScript as well as sophisticated practices like responsive design and cross-browser compatibility. We also cover salary and job opportunities and answer questions any hopeful Frontend Dev would want to know. Such as, what is a Frontend Framework?   

With our expert guidance, you'll be well on your way toward establishing yourself as one of tomorrow's top-tier Frontend Developers.

💡 Learn more about tech roles in our DevLexicon

Firstly, what is a Frontend Developer?

A Frontend Developer is a Software Developer whose job is to create a website or application's user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). 

In simpler terms, a Frontend Developer is responsible for designing and building the visuals of a website/app. This includes the layout, graphics, text, and other visual elements that make up the design and the code that makes it all work. 

What does Frontend mean? 

The Frontend of a site, also commonly referred to as the client-side, or more broadly speaking, the User Interface (UI), refers to the parts of a website/app that users can see and interact with - the buttons, layout and menus etc.   

The Backend, or server-side, on the other hand, refers to the parts of a site that aren't visible to the end user and manages the data that powers the site and keeps track of things such as user accounts and history.

Although separate, The Frontend and Backend communicate with each other to provide smooth and responsive web pages.

What does a Frontend Developer do? 

Think of a Frontend Developer as an artist who makes websites and apps visually appealing and operate smoothly. To do this, they use a variety of programming languages, tools and technologies. 

Frontend programs typically include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (more on these), adding interactivity and functionality to the Frontend. Other Frontend technologies and frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js provide additional tools for building dynamic and responsive pages. 

Frontend Developers often work closely with designers, Backend Developers, and other development team members to ensure everything on the website looks good and works well together.

Frontend Developer tasks:

Developing user-friendly interfaces: Frontend Developers aim to create websites and apps that are simple to navigate and provide a positive user experience.

Designing and implementing website layouts: They ensure the format of a site is visually appealing, responsive, and compatible with different devices and browsers.

Creating interactive elements: Frontend Developers add features such as forms, drop-down menus, and buttons to make websites more fun and easy to use. These interactive elements ensure a website is more engaging and user-friendly.

Optimising website speed and performance: They help make websites load faster by minimising the amount of code and images that need to be loaded, using compression techniques, and optimising images. This way, users can easily access the website without waiting too long for it to load.

Collaborating with other team members: Frontend Developers work with designers, Backend Developers, and other team members to ensure the website or app works and meets the project goals. They collaborate to ensure the website looks great, works well, and meets the end user's needs. 

Testing and debugging: They check the website or app by testing it. This helps them find and fix any errors or bugs that might stop the website from working correctly.

Staying up-to-date with new technologies and trends: Frontend Development is ever-changing. As a developer, you must be open to learning new technologies and adapting to recent trends and best practices. This will help you create modern, responsive, user-friendly interfaces that stand out in today's digital world.

Are Frontend and UI Developers the same?

Frontend Developers and UI Developers are involved in creating the look and feel of a website or app, but the two roles have some key differences.

Frontend Developers focus on writing the code that makes a website or application work, such as defining the layout and behaviour of user interfaces. They use programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and frontend frameworks and libraries to create responsive and interactive interfaces that users can interact with.

UI Developers, on the other hand, work closely with designers to create the visuals of a website or application. They create wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to define the visual style and layout. They may also use software tools like Adobe Photoshop to design graphics and other design elements.

While there is some overlap between Frontend Devs and UI Devs, each role requires different skills and expertise. Frontend Developers must be skilled in coding and web development, while UI Developers must have a strong understanding of user experience design and visual design principles.

What's the difference between Full Stack, Frontend, and Backend Devs? 

The main difference between the three is that Frontend Developers work on code that controls the user interface, Backend Developers work on code that controls all the behind-the-scenes aspects of a site, and Full Stack Developers have knowledge and experience in both Frontend and Backend development.

More specifically: 

Backend Development is part of making a website or app that people can't see, like the database and the computer that stores all the information. Backend Developers work on saving and organising data and ensuring the website works fast and responds quickly. 

Frontend Development is part of making a website or app that people see and use, like buttons, menus and product pages. They use special languages and technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to make the website visibly appealing, work well, and let people do things like fill out forms. Frontend Developers also use other tools and libraries to make the website more exciting and fun. 

Full Stack Development means working on the parts of a website or app that people see and use and the features they can't see. Full Stack Developers are good at both Frontend and Backend Development so that they can work on the whole website or app themselves from the beginning until the end.

Why would someone hire a Frontend Developer over a Full Stack Developer?

You might be wondering, "Wouldn't a company prefer to hire someone who can handle both ends of development?" The answer is; not always. There are a few reasons why a company might hire a dedicated Frontend Developer instead of a Full Stack developer. Here are some of the reasons:

More specialised skill set: Frontend Developers have a more specialised focus on the user-facing part of a website or app. They are experts in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and can create high-quality, responsive, and interactive user interfaces. They may be able to complete tasks more quickly and accurately than a Full Stack Developer who needs to switch between different areas of expertise.

Improved user experience: Frontend developers have a deeper understanding of user experience and design principles and can ensure that the user-facing part of the website or application is intuitive, easy to use, and visually appealing.

Flexibility: Frontend Developers are often more flexible and adaptable since they can work with a wide range of frontend technologies. 

Faster Development: Hiring a Frontend Developer can often speed up the development process since they can focus solely on the frontend while other developers work on the backend. This can lead to quicker delivery times and a more streamlined development process.

What are the skills needed as a Frontend Developer?

Although having formal education can be beneficial in acquiring the necessary qualifications, it's worth noting that numerous Frontend Developers are self-taught or have gained their expertise through online courses, boot camps, or practical experience. However, it's important to know that certain companies may require a degree or equivalent in Computer Science or a related field. Nonetheless, your ability to showcase your skills and knowledge through a robust portfolio of work and practical experience is important. 

Below are some of the key skills that you'll need to master as a Frontend Developer:

Proficiency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: To excel in Frontend development, it's important to have a strong understanding of these core technologies. These languages form the foundation of Frontend development and are vital for creating exceptional user interfaces.

Knowledge of frontend frameworks and libraries: Being familiar with frameworks and libraries such as React, Angular, and Vue.js can prove advantageous when developing more complex web applications. These tools provide a robust foundation for building responsive, interactive, scalable interfaces that users love.

Experience with responsive design: Frontend Developers must be able to develop websites and applications that look great and operate seamlessly on various devices like desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Creating responsive and user-friendly interfaces is vital to Frontend Development, ensuring users have an enjoyable experience regardless of their device.

Understanding of design principles: A Frontend Developer should possess a keen eye for design and a comprehensive understanding of essential design principles like typography, colour theory, and layout. These skills are crucial for creating interfaces that are not only visually appealing but also provide a seamless user experience.

Cross-browser compatibility: As a Frontend Developer, ensuring that the websites and applications you create work smoothly on different web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge is crucial. This means that users should be able to access and navigate the interface without any issues, regardless of their browser. Ensuring the interface works well across different browsers is essential to Frontend development.

What jargon should Frontend Developers know? 

If you've had previous experience with Frontend Development or interacted with Frontend Developers, you might have noticed that their conversations sometimes sound like a foreign language. That's because there are specific key terms and lexicons that every Frontend Developer uses as part of their work. To give you a better idea, here are a few examples:

HTML | What is HTML? 

HTML is the acronym for Hypertext Markup Language and is the standard markup language for creating web pages and apps. HTML provides a way to structure and format content like text, images, videos, and links, allowing web browsers to display them correctly. You could say that HTML is the foundation of the web; without it, we wouldn't have the vast and interconnected digital landscape we have today. It's essential to web development, and any Frontend Developer should understand it. 

CSS | What is CSS? 

Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS for short, is a language used to add style and visual flair to web pages written in HTML. It's like clothing you wear to enhance your appearance and express your personal style. CSS allows you to define fonts, colours, layouts, and other 

JavaScript | What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is the foundation of interactive content creation. It's what powers any webpage, ensuring every element stays in motion while responding promptly to users' commands. With JavaScript, you can add functionality to a web page, such as animations, pop-up windows, form validation, and more. It can be used to create a wide range of web applications, from simple website effects to complex games and apps, and works alongside HTML and CSS to bring web pages to life, making them more interactive and engaging.

Frontend Framework or Library | What is a Frontend Framework or Library?

A Frontend Framework/Library is a collection of pre-written HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code that makes it easier to build websites and apps. It provides a structure for the code and helps developers create responsive and mobile-friendly designs more efficiently. 

Examples of popular Frontend Frameworks/Libraries include React, Angular, Vue.js, jQuery, Bootstrap, Svelte, and Backbone. Each framework has its strengths and weaknesses, and developers often choose one based on their preferences and the project requirements they are working on. 

API | What is an API? 

API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface and is a set of rules and tools that enable software applications to communicate and exchange information with each other. It acts as a middleman between different software, allowing them to communicate and exchange information in a standard format. In simpler terms, think of an API as a waiter who takes your order, communicates it to the kitchen, and returns your food. The kitchen is like the server that stores and processes information, while the waiter/API facilitates communication between you and the kitchen/server.

PWAs | What are PWAs? 

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications designed to provide an app-like experience while still being accessible through a web browser. PWAs use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to provide features such as offline caching, push notifications, and home screen installation.

PWAs offer several benefits over traditional mobile apps, including lower development costs, easier maintenance, and better discoverability through search engines. They also don't require users to download and install anything, making them more convenient.

User Experience (UX) Design

UX designers work to create a user-friendly and intuitive interface, while Frontend Developers are responsible for bringing the UX design to life. They do this by coding the website or app using the abovementioned languages. UX design and Frontend Development work hand in hand to create a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Stand-up Meeting (stum) 

A Stand-up Meeting is a daily check-in where everyone in the dev team gets together (virtually or in person) and gives a quick update on what they're working on. And yes, you do have to stand up while you do it. Why? Because it keeps the meeting short and to the point. Nobody wants to stand around for an hour listening to a long-winded update.

Knowing these and other important terms and concepts, you can talk with other developers, designers, and stakeholders and actually understand what they're saying. This will help you work better in teams and contribute more effectively to building amazing websites and apps.

How to Become a Frontend Developer? 

Becoming a great Frontend Developer takes time and dedication, so it's best to know what you're getting into before you start your journey on this rewarding career path. Here are some steps you can take: 

Learn the basics: Start by taking free online courses to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Then, put your newfound skills to the test by building some of your own projects. Make sure you actually enjoy coding and understand what you're getting yourself into. Becoming a developer isn't for everyone, so it's best to ensure you're in it for the long haul before you go all in. 

Educate yourself further: Whether through university or a bootcamp, expand your knowledge further by getting a degree or certification. There are so many educational pathways for Frontend Developing. Pick one that suits your learning ability, budget and dream job requirement. 

Choose a Frontend Framework: Familiarise yourself with a Frontend Framework and become proficient with it. 

Network and gain experience: Start looking for projects to collaborate on. Network with other developers, attend meetups and conferences and seek mentorship opportunities. You want to work on as many projects as you can get your hands on, whether for free or as a side project. Why would you work for free? This is why: 

Create a portfolio: In such a competitive market, you need to stand out as a developer, and the best way to do that is to have an outstanding portfolio. Here are a few examples of developer portfolios that will make any employer want to hire you on the spot. 

Apply for your dream job: If you've mastered the basics of Frontend Development, it might be time to start looking for your dream job. Apply for entry-level software roles and put yourself out there. However, if you still need more experience, consider seeking internships or work experience roles to gain more hands-on experience. Keep your eye out for job postings that interest you, and don't be afraid to apply.

Frontend developer salary

Let's talk about where Frontend Developers can earn some serious cash. We'll break it down by country, starting with Germany, where the average salary for a frontend dev is estimated to be around 57,000 EUR. Across the pond in the United States, things look even better, with an average of 73,000 USD per year. And if you're in the UK, you could be looking at around 80,000 AUD.

Frontend Developer jobs 

If you're a talented Frontend Developer seeking new career opportunities, we've got some fantastic options for you in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland! We partner with Europe's most innovative tech companies to connect them with brilliant software engineers like yourself. Skip the tedious job search and check out our job board to discover what exciting new challenges await.


What programming languages do I need to learn to become a Frontend Developer?
Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML is like the skeleton of a webpage, CSS is the fancy clothes you dress it in, and JavaScript is the brain that makes it all come to life (or, sometimes, malfunction).
What are the benefits of using a frontend framework?
Using a frontend framework is like using a toolbox with all the tools you need to build a house, except it's for building websites. It makes your job easier and faster because you don't always have to start from scratch. Plus, it helps keep everything organised and consistent.
What is version control, and why is it important for Frontend Development?
Version control is like a time machine for your code. It allows you to track changes made to your code over time and even go back if you need to undo something. This is super important for Frontend Development because it helps you keep track of all the tweaks and fixes you make to your website or app. Plus, if you're working on a project with a team of other developers, version control makes it easy for everyone to collaborate and keep track of changes without getting messy.
What tools do I need to know to be a Frontend Developer?
As a Frontend Developer, you'll need a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Additionally, you should be familiar with version control systems like Git and have experience with different frameworks and libraries. Knowledge of build tools like Webpack or Gulp can also be helpful. Remember that the tools and technologies used in Frontend Development are constantly evolving, so staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices is key to success.
How can I improve my skills as a Frontend Developer?
To improve your skills as a Frontend Developer, you can try the following things:
1. Practice coding regularly and work on personal projects
2. Stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies
3. Collaborate with other developers and participate in online communities
4. Attend workshops, conferences, and other learning opportunities
5. Seek feedback and be open to constructive criticism
6. Read blogs, watch tutorials, and take online courses to continue learning.


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