Frontend Developer - Complete Roadmap in 2021

A front-end developer's complete roadmap discusses from beginner to advanced levels and all the technologies to learn to become a successful front-end developer.
Thumbnail of Complete Roadmap of Frontend Developer

1. What is Frontend Development?

Front-end web development, also known as client-side development, is the practice of producing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for a website or Web Application so that a user can see and interact with them directly. The challenge associated with front-end development is that the tools and techniques used to create the front-end constantly change. Hence, the developer needs to be aware of how the field is constantly developing.

The objective of designing a site is to ensure that when the users open up the site, they see the information in a format that is easy to read and relevant. This is further complicated because users now use a large variety of devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions, thus forcing the designer to consider these aspects when designing the site. They need to ensure that their site comes up correctly in different browsers (cross-browser), different operating systems (cross-platform), and different devices (cross-device), which requires careful planning on the side of the developer.

2. Scopes of a Frontend Developer

Front-end development is what you would refer to as the client-side of development. Front-end development is all about analyzing designs and codes as well as debugging applications. The front-end or client-side development objective is to provide your users with a seamless experience of using a website.

It is all about managing and making better what users would see first in their web browsers. In other words, front-end development is responsible for managing the design as well as the look and feel of a website. Simply put, Frontend Developers are always in hot demand.

Overall, the future looks bright for anyone who wants to become a front-end developer. The latest studies predict that by 2020, there will be a deficit of approximately 1 million developers in the United States alone. The rest of the world will have it even worse, according to similar studies.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web developer employment in the US is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. The rate is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Although these numbers seem incredible, it's not so surprising if you pause and consider the times. Increased Internet usage, especially in the mobile field, means a greater need for user interfaces, which means more front-end developer jobs. Web development is a field whose potential is tied closely to the Internet’s popularity, and the latter is surging with no signs of letting up. If you want to go where the jobs are, then look no further.

Please stick with us to find out the important things a frontend developer should know about.

3. Where to Start?

To be a successful Frontend Developer. Some important skills are required.

Since the front-end developer is the rock star of website/app development, they need a well-stocked personal toolbox. So a front end developer skills include the need to:

  1. Be proficient in coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery
  2. Be experienced with Web frameworks(e.g., Angular.js, React.js)
  3. Be experienced with graphic design applications (e.g., Adobe Illustrator)
  4. Understand the principles of SEO
  5. Have excellent skills in problem-solving
  6. Be proficient in communicating with team members, bosses, and clients
  7. Have good interpersonal skills

Regardless of learning how to code and create websites and applications, the most important part is constantly trying to improve. Obviously, there are basic technical skills required. Some of us have a better predisposition for learning it than others but let’s not forget that working hard and practicing usually pays off.

4. Things to learn?

Required skills vary depending on the position and the project they are going to work on. Some companies need just basics but with solid experience; others are searching for real Prodigies, frontend developers who are also pretty good in UI and UX design.

4.1 Programming Languages to Learn:

4.1.1. HTML5 and CSS

Hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS) are a website’s nuts and bolts. While HTML gives structure to web pages, CSS helps style the HTML elements with the color, fonts, typeface, and more.

Mastering HTML5 and CSS is a MUST. Honestly, not having it at fingertips is unacceptable for a frontend developer. HTML, the key structural component of any website, together with CSS, the styling part, already allows you to build some basic websites and applications. However, to make it interactive, you need JavaScript! But without knowing HTML and CSS, it won’t be possible to implement into the website or app.

4.1.2. JavaScript

This client-side programming language lets you add interactive features to a website, including polls, slideshows, and forms. It also offers support for dynamic elements, including, but not limited to, page animation, scrolling, audio, and video.

4.2 Frameworks

Frameworks are prewritten code modules for common website elements like login and search interfaces. They’re easy to incorporate and are reusable.

4.2.1. JavaScript Frameworks

Depending on the team you are going to work with, or on the project, most likely, there will be given a framework you should be familiar with. Knowing the language itself is one thing, but knowing how to work within a framework is an additional skill, and you can’t do much without it, especially if you want to create some real project for a client. The most popular are Angular, React, and Vue.js - getting familiar with one of them is a big plus.

4.2.1.1. React.js : React is a front-end open-source JavaScript library used to create interactive UIs (User Interfaces), which helps improve the speed of applications. It is one of the simplest frameworks to learn and was developed by Facebook to resolve the code maintainability issues due to constant addition and improvements. It is still maintained by Facebook and other individual front-end engineers.

4.2.1.2. Angular.js : Angular is a modern TypeScript-based, open-source framework and one of the top-rated software development tools. Angular features Directives allow developers to program special behaviors of the DOM, making it possible to create rich and dynamic HTML content. Angular has a Hierarchical dependency injection function, which makes code components highly testable, reusable, and easier to control: it helps to define code dependencies as external elements decoupling components from their dependencies.

4.2.1.3. Vue.js : Vue is one of the beginner-friendliest frameworks, coming with well-elaborated documentation and a supportive community. Vue has an extensive choice of tools, such as end-to-end testing tools, plugin installation systems, browser debugging tools, server renderer, state manager, and others.

4.2.2 CSS Frameworks

Like JavaScript frameworks but for CSS - optimizing the workflow. It is better for a developer to know them because you can get the same results in less time and less typing. Another important aspect is a responsive design - sites and apps that work great on each device and size are a must-have in 2019. Knowing how to convert a website from a static to responsive one is essential but saving some time by using frameworks that have it already built-in is even better. Win-win.

Some examples are given below:

4.2.2.1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a free and open-source CSS framework directed at responsive, mobile-first front-end web development. Bootstrap is considered to be one of the best CSS frameworks due to its responsive design. It contains CSS- and JavaScript-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, navigation, and other interface components. They have an extensive set of documentation, examples, and demos to get you started quickly with responsive web development.

4.2.2.2. Tailwind CSS

Tailwind is a utility-first CSS framework for rapidly building custom user interfaces. It comes with classes equipped to build custom UI designs directly in the users’ markup. Unlike Bootstrap, where you get pre-designed components that can be used as a base for further development, Tailwind does not come with a predefined template, but it allows you to incorporate your style quickly.

4.2.2.3. Bulma

Bulma is a modern CSS framework based on flexbox. It provides responsive design and mobile-first UI components and has a modular structure to import only the stuff you want to include in your web design. Bulma offers a flexbox-based modern grid system.

4.3 Tools

4.3.1 Web Browser

A web browser is a software used to retrieve, present, and traverse information on the WWW. Typically, browsers run on a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or phone, but as of late, a browser can be found on just about anything (i.e., on a fridge, in cars, etc.).

The most common web browsers are (shown in order of most used first):

  1. Chrome
  2. Safari
  3. Internet Explorer (Note: not Edge, referring to IE 9 to IE 11)
  4. Firefox
  5. Edge

With developer tools (which you open in a browser), you can play around with each website element. Why is it important? Because without actually changing anything in the code, you can check how those changes would influence the website or an app while having it open in the browser. It also helps when you search for bugs and weak points.

4.3.2 Design Tools

Being able to have a basic understanding of image manipulation, create graphical components, retouch images, design user interfaces, or just set up certain information using graphics, illustrations, and/or images for your website is a huge bonus. It speeds up your productivity, and better gives you value whether you work professionally at a company or startup, you actively freelance.

Given below are some useful Design tools:

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Adobe Illustrator
  3. Adobe XD
  4. Adobe InDesign

4.4 Web performance optimization (WPO)

A slow-loading website can reduce user engagement drastically. Website performance optimization techniques help ensure faster loading times through automation tools.

For example, Grunt automatically optimizes images and makes page components lighter depending on the device without compromising website functionality.

4.5 Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the practice of increasing traffic to a website organically through search results.

Generally, there is a separate team to supervise SEO practices. However, knowing the basics can help you determine where to place titles, meta descriptions, and text on a website so search engines can easily find them.

4.6. Version control using Git:

In software engineering, version control (also known as revision control, source control, or source code management) is a class of systems responsible for managing changes to computer programs, documents, large websites, or other collections of information. Version control is a component of software configuration management.

4.6.1. Git

If you’re looking for a widely used modern version control system to fit your needs, Git is a great option. It is actively maintained and open-sourced, created by the same founder of the Linux operating system. Each developer with a working copy of the code can easily access the full history of the changes, making it easy to edit and restore the code. Git is one of the most high-performing, flexible, and secure among any back-end developer skills list.

5. Soft skills

5.1. Problem Solving

Dealing with a project and each small task is an everyday struggle of a frontend developer, but step by step, together with the team, the issues are solved. However, if something doesn’t work on the website, it is the frontend dev’s duty to rectify it! Solving the problems and making it all work should be the mindset of each professional developer.

5.2. Teamwork

As it was mentioned above, good communication is key! Teamwork is usually a part of the frontend developer’s everyday life. Even if you work as a freelance dev, you’ll have to communicate well with the clients and work with them on the project to some extent. Knowing how to handle teamwork, support other developers, and ask for advice when needed make the workflow smoother and in the end, you deliver the end product faster.

5.3. Good Communication

Breaking the sitcom stereotype about developers, you actually need to be good at communication. First of all, the work between UI/UX designers, front- and backend has to go smoothly to finish a project. Of course, in agile software houses, you also get a project manager who helps with the information flow and a SCRUM master to help with the process, but without some basic interpersonal skills, it won’t be that easy to work with others. Effective communication is necessary when you work with other people. What is also important is the ability to clearly state and communicate what you have in mind - writing documentation that others can read and understand is highly appreciated.

6. Final note on becoming a Frontend Developer

Regardless of learning how to code and create websites and applications, the most important part is to… constantly trying to improve. Obviously, there are basic technical skills required. Some of us have a better predisposition for learning it than others but let’s not forget that working hard and practicing usually pays off. Regarding soft skills, even if you are not really a fan of talking with people, communication is key when you need to deal with a project for a client, so it is worth working on some of those. Still, as in every job type and company, you will work for, those are more flexible.

If you are interested in joining an organization working on cutting-edge technologies, apply to raftlabs.co/careers