The visual component of the site with which the user interacts is the main result of the front end developer’s work. What should a frontender be able to do in order to be a good specialist in today’s ultra-fast conditions, when everyone around is already spoiled by various web experiences? What steps are most useful for early career development? Tetyana Melnyk, Tech Lead at Projector Institute, tells the story.
What does a Front end Developer do today and what did he do before
Almost all of our lives are now spent in the browser. Since the beginning of the 90s, websites have changed seriously and no longer play an informational role, but a functional-instrumental one, and can often compete with desktop applications. For example, Gmail, which for many replaced desktop email clients (outlook, good bye), or the same Netflix, which generally became a replacement for TV for many. Accordingly, developing such sites, often referred to as web applications, requires much more effort and resources. And the profession of a front-end engineer plays an extremely important role here.
As it was 10-15 years ago, the main result of the front end developer’s work is the visual component of the site with which the user interacts. That is why web designers often switch to frontend and vice versa.
HTML & CSS, with which it all began, is unlike any other programming language and is actually something quite special, as, for example, Delphi programming was at one time. But this does not negate the fact that to become a good frontender you need to have analytical skills and love for exact sciences. This is especially relevant today, since the requirements for the quality of web applications have grown significantly, and the front-end developer also cares about the behavioral component. That is, how quickly the page will load, whether some part of the page will change smoothly enough, how quickly the user can react to new data — all this is the responsibility of the frontend.
What a front-runner should be able to do
To become a frontender, you need to have quite versatile skills, namely:
- Visual perfectionism and a sense of beauty. The desire to bring the matter practically to the ideal. The picture that we see in the browser is the most important thing for the user. Of course, a front end engineer does not have to be able to make design mockups in special tools. But this inner feeling, where it is better to “place the button” will definitely win the respect of the designers with whom you will work.
- Basic knowledge of the basics of programming. At first, it may seem that math and algorithms play a small role in the frontend. In fact, these fundamentals shape your engineering thinking to be able to break down a large and complex problem into smaller and already quite simple tasks. This knowledge can be obtained already in the process of working as a fronter.
- Understanding how the Internet and the browser work. This does not mean that you need to know all administrative secrets. However, understanding how it works will make your job easier and speed up the search for optimal solutions.
- And also a lot of patience 😉 Not everything works out right away and it is often very difficult to find the reason. Therefore, here you need to have a little patience, not to give up immediately, but to try to find non-standard solutions.
What should you prepare for if you are thinking of mastering the profession of a frontender?
All of the above, unfortunately, cannot be learned in 3-4 days or even a month. However, all efforts will be worth it, because the profession is very relevant and will remain so for a long time. As trends show, more and more tools are moving to the browser. Google is even developing an operating system whose interface is based on a browser. According to the statistics of the same dou.ua, there are the most frontender vacancies on the Ukrainian market, and the growth is not slowing down.
You also need to understand that there are many people who want to become frontenders. Since there is a lot of demand, there is also quite a lot of competition, especially among beginners. Therefore, you need to have a very clear motivation. Not only rumors about good pay, but also the understanding that this field really interests you and you are ready to devote a lot of personal time to it.
A few practical tips:
* Once again – do not rush to “master the profession in a few weeks”. Because here, as everywhere, the most important thing is practice.
* An important feature of the industry is that new tools for work appear and develop almost every day. Therefore, it is necessary to understand that this will be constant learning along with work. And it’s not like if I already went to the courses, then in a month, I will know everything, everything, everything.
* Knowledge of the English language will definitely be a plus, most of the documentation, and there will be many of them, is originally written in English, and it is best to learn from the original source.
* It is easier for students of various mathematical and exact specialties to become a frontender, since they already have the basic subject knowledge for mastering the profession.
* For sweaters, the path is also possible, especially if you already work in IT in related fields and feel the dynamics of working in a dev team. Web designers and QA engineers often move to the front end, since they already know many nuances of browser operation.
* If you did not have previous experience with IT and programming, then mastering and finding yourself in this profession will definitely be more difficult, but there are many successful cases. The main thing is the right motivation, dedication to the goal and the awareness that you will have to make an effort.
What will help the most at the beginning of your career
Unfortunately, our universities do not yet have a separate field for frontenders, and you need to learn the profession somewhere. In my case, it was many years ago and it was freelancing — learning on the job. Of course, there are risks that there will be fakes, and someone will someday not pay you for missed deadlines or poor quality, but that’s all – experience. You can also look at specialized courses, but only at those where there will be a lot of practice and as a result of the course you will have your own experience.
* For the first practice – try to make a copy of the front end part of your favorite website yourself. It will be an interesting activity, because many questions will arise in the process, and at the same time it can become part of your portfolio. Although today the portfolio for this profession does not play such a big role, since most employers conduct interviews and ask to complete test tasks.
* Pro-bono work. There are many organizations that need a website, but that is not their goal. They need to do it once and forget it. Here, a foreigner who is eager to learn will definitely come in handy. In addition, it will be a plus in terms of publicity if suddenly the organization is quite popular.
* For the first job, I think it is still worth looking at an outsourcing company, since there will be more tasks in the flow, they will be different and you will be able to do projects from A to Z. Although, of course, product companies will be more attractive later on in terms of working conditions .
* Always think about professional development. It is a continuous process. You shouldn’t think after your first commercial job that all doors are now open, because you still have a lot of interviews and unresolved issues ahead of you.
* To support and develop your knowledge and the speed with which you solve problems, there are many useful services that contain small standard programming challenges. For example, LeetCode or CodeWars. In addition, these tools are often used for job interviews, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with them in any case.
* In general, it is very useful to go to interviews to understand the needs of the market, which tools are still relevant, and also to perform test tasks. Be sure to ask for feedback after the interviews, because this way you also gain experience and understand your weaknesses and strengths.
* And it would also be good to follow all the latest news in the industry, follow famous people you like, for example, on Twitter. It might sound a bit funny, but you can learn a lot from Twitter too :)