What is Front-End Development?

By BrainStation November 6, 2019
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Visit any website or blog and you’ll see a combination of text, menus, buttons, and sidebars that help make it easy to navigate.

These parts of a website – everything you can see and interact with are examples of what’s called front-end development. 

Front-end development is often called “client-side development” because it refers to everything that the user (the client) can see. Let’s take a closer look at the role of a Front-End Developer. 

What Does a Front-End Developer Do?

Because front-end development is responsible for what you can see on a website, it’s often confused with web design. Although Front-End Developers don’t design websites, they are the link between design and technology that can turn an idea into an interactive web page. 

Here are some of the basic tasks that a Front-End Developer may be responsible for: 

  • Working with Graphic, User Experience, or Web Designers to help ensure design ideas can be made into a website that is easy to use

  • Transforming design (sketches or wireframes for a website) into code that a web browser can read and display on your screen

  • Structuring a website so that it is easy to find through a search engine (this is part of Search Engine Optimization or SEO)

  • Developing websites that work and look good on any screen, from 24-inch computer monitors to five-inch smartphone screens (this is called responsive design)

  • Testing websites and fixing bugs or other issues 

Front-End Coding Languages 

Writing code is the main part of a front-end developer’s job. There are three coding languages commonly used in front-end development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the basic building blocks of every website, and Front-End Developers spend most of their time sourcing, writing, and editing these coding languages. Since every website starts with one or more of these coding languages, Front-End Developers can often use pre-existing code to get started on a project. 

Let’s take a closer look at these languages and frameworks: 

HTML and CSS

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are what you would call the basic building blocks of programming. Before you can start a career in web development, you will have to master both of these languages. It should be said, though, that these are independent of each other.  HTML gives content structure by defining that content into headings, paragraphs, or images. CSS, meanwhile, is used to style the appearance of content, with, for example, fonts and colors.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a programming language that allows you to add functionality and complexity to a site. When you see things like real-time content updates, interactive maps, animated graphics, and video elements, JavaScript is usually involved. For this reason, JavaScript can be seen as a third layer (the icing perhaps) of a layer cake of web technology, with HTML and CSS providing the foundations. 

JavaScript Frameworks

JS frameworks (including ReactJS, AngularJS, Backbone, and Ember, among others) provide a structure for JavaScript code. Frameworks are often used with libraries like jQuery to minimize initial programming work.

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