Front-end development is often called “client-side development” because it refers to everything that the user (the client) can see.
Web developers — the people who build the websites and web applications we encounter everyday — are at the frontier of the technology landscape. According to the Bureau of Labour, web development has one of the highest projected growth rates of any occupation. This rise in demand is one of the main reasons why there’s never been a better time to be a web developer.
Although web developers are in high demand, that doesn’t make it an easy position to land. This is most likely due to the advanced skill set companies expect developers to have. To help get you started, we’ve created a list of the core skills and competencies that can help you pursue a career in web development.
Programming and Technical Skills
In an earlier blog post, we wrote about what’s involved in the role of Web Developer. Web developers translate designs into working applications, coding the increasingly complex architecture of websites. Developers are responsible for building interactivity and responsivity, making sites go live, as well as troubleshooting, debugging, and maintaining site functionality. At the core of a Web Developer’s job is actually writing code, and therefore, Web Developers must have advanced programming skills, and be fluent in a number of programming languages.
- HTML and CSS
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the foundation of any web developer’s knowledge. HTML is the standard markup language used to build web pages, while CSS enables you to program the appearance of the web page, with things like colours and fonts. Together, HTML and CSS are the building blocks for web development.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language that is designed to manage, query, and manipulate data stored in a database. Python is an object-oriented programming language used for many data science applications, including machine learning.
- Version Control
- Browser developer tools including Chrome DevTool
Beyond programming languages and libraries, becoming comfortable with commonly used tools like Git, or other version control software is a skill every Web Developer should have. Version control is a method of tracking different versions of code to ensure you can access it or restore it at any time.
WordPress is a content management system that supports a great deal of web content; 75 million websites, in fact. Chances are, you will come across WordPress as a Web Developer, so it helps to be proficient on the platform.
Browser developer tools are useful for Developers, as the web applications you create will be viewed through many different browsers. Ensuring that you are familiar with browser tools can enable you to see how your website will be rendered by browsers, and make any necessary adjustments.
Perhaps the most crucial design skill developers can have is an understanding of responsive design. Responsive design is a method of web design that ensures a website responds to the screen size or platform used to view the content.
With over 52 percent of global web traffic coming from mobile phones, 43 percent from desktop, and the remainder from tablets, the screen size used to view websites is extremely varied. To ensure that the experience is seamless across all platforms and screen sizes, developers must be fluent in responsive design.
User-centric Design / Usability
While Web Developers are not typically tasked with the overall site design, it’s an advantage for Developers to have a solid understanding of design principles. Front-end Developers, in particular, code the screens that users interact with; they can be far more efficient and effective team players with a good grasp of user-centered design.
The role of Web Developer will always involve working with many others, such as UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) Designers, Client Services Managers, Content Creators, Product Managers, and other Developers on the team. Working with diverse teams on complex projects makes the following “soft skills” important assets.
Collaboration is key in web development as a typical project will be worked on by a team of people. From design, to marketing, to management, developers are in communication with a host of departments to create products and services. Many Senior Developers also manage and mentor Junior Developers.
Strong communication skills – think: active listening and clear explanations – can help a Developer work efficiently, eliminate unnecessary changes, and ultimately speed up project delivery time.
Because a portion of every Developer’s day involves debugging and maintenance, problem-solving skills are high on the list of requirements. Developers need to find creative workarounds and solutions where others have failed, and to work independently when need be. You may want to hone your critical thinking and analytical skills if you’re considering a career in web development.
Developers are frequently tasked with multiple short-term and long-term projects, and must know how to prioritize tasks and accurately gauge time to completion. Having excellent time management skills also makes working with large teams easier and results in timely project delivery.
Starting to Develop Your Skills
While many Web Developers do come from various educational backgrounds, any development position requires the technical chops. At a minimum, you’ll need to demonstrate your fluency and experience with various programming languages and core development tools.
As an aspiring Developer, you may want to consider establishing a digital portfolio that showcases your projects —the web pages or applications that you’ve programmed – to demonstrate your skill.
If you’re just getting started in web development, you may want some training to help lay the foundation. BrainStation offers full-time and part-time Web Development programs that can give you the skills to launch a career in development.