The Pocket Guide for Hiring a FrontEnd Developer

A lot of people get confused with frontend developer and backend developer.

The simplest explanation:

Imagine a car…

Frontend/Backend:

It’s like the car where you interact with the front end (what you see) – the steering, brakes, gearbox, and music system. What you don’t see is the back end that keeps the car running – the engine, wires, battery, and the water pump which is hidden.

In this post, we’d go over:

  • Frontend developer meaning
  • Frontend developer skills
  • What they do in their day-to-day work
  • Frontend developer roadmap
  • Screening Frontend developers
  • Front-end developer job titles
Bonus: Frontend developer Interview questions & Boolean search string to help you find great front-end developers. Download a free PDF version of this right here

After reading this post, you’ll be able to understand the basics of frontend web development.

Let’s jump in….

Front End developer meaning:

Frontend developer is someone who works on a website especially on the client side of the website or the user interacts.

They work with back-end developers who are working with databases, servers and the designers who give them the mock-ups, wireframes that they then build out the website.

There are three main components used by frontend developers. They are HTML CSS and JavaScript.

If you want to learn more about technical terms, I’ve written a detailed downloadable technology glossary, and You can read them here: Technical Terms for Recruitment Beginners.

Front End Developer Skills:

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the basic skills and a frontend developer could be skilled in one or more of the following (see the image):

front end developer

Now let’s see the definitions for HTML, CSS, JavaScript according to Udacity:

HTML

HTML is the first of the big three languages you need to learn to make websites—HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML isn’t a programming language per se. It describes how elements on a website laid out and provided browsers with a list of all the other files, like CSS and JavaScript that websites need. You can think of HTML as the blueprint of a house. It tells you how big the rooms are and what should be inside them. But it doesn’t tell you how they should look.

CSS

If HTML describes the layout of a house, CSS describes the look of a house. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, handles the way websites look. Colors, fonts, and even some animations are all controlled by CSS. Like HTML, CSS isn’t a programming language. It’s a text document that reads like an interior designer’s instructions for making a website look great.

JAVASCRIPT

Of the big three web languages, JavaScript is the only one that’s considered an actual programming language. JavaScript controls interactions on a website. It’s like a handyman that can tear down walls, build new rooms and redecorate your house. For a simple, static website, you won’t need to use much JavaScript. But for a dynamic web app, you’ll need an in-depth understanding of the language.

How does an HTML & CSS look like?

You can check any website by right-clicking the mouse on the webpage. Then click the Inspect element which gives you the Inspect and live-edit the HTML and CSS of a page using the Chrome DevTools Elements panel.

Let’s look at an example – I have used the google search page for this demo below.

HTML & CSS

By now you have an idea of how an HTML and CSS looks like – great!

The third component is JavaScript. This is what makes the website interactive with the user.

For example:

In the above Google search image page, we have the “google search” button. There you can enter your search query and then google going to interact with you. That is which brings you the results, and that built-in JavaScript.

The other skills required for Frontend developers are:

Jquery, JavaScript Frameworks, Front End Frameworks, CSS Preprocessors, RESTful Services & APIs, Responsive and Mobile Design, Cross-Browser Development, CMS (Content Management Systems), Testing and Debugging and Git and Version Control Systems – I will be writing on this in my upcoming post soon.

What they do in their day-to-day work:

  • Frontend developers create an attractive and intuitive user experiences.
  • Use three important components – HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build user-friendly sites.
  • Interact with the designers and back-end developers
  • Face challenges meeting the requirements of a project and the desire to have a clean code.
  • They work on meeting deadlines.
  • Fight on how perfect they can get this project gets delivered on time.
  • Frontend developers keep them updated learning from websites like JavaScript WeeklyDev/Design Roundup, and podcasts at JavaScript Jabber.

Front End Developer roadmap:

Here is a visualization which is a great resource for both beginners and experts in understanding the Frontend development.
Below image explains what technologies used in frontend web development.

Frontend developer Roadmap
Photo credit: kamranahmedse.

Screening Frontend developers:

There are many ways to screen front-end developers. You can check their GitHub account and see if they have done any contributions or ask them to walk over their portfolio’s.

Look:

Most of the hiring managers today request candidates to take up an online coding test.

Because resumes don’t show that a candidate has or lacks certain programming skills.

So filter technical talent through coding assessment using online coding tools like Codility, TestDome, Devskiller, Tests4Geeks.

You can also, prepare few interview questions for vetting candidates.

Here are few open-ended questions for you to start with:

  • What excites or interests you about coding
  • What is a recent technical challenge you experienced and how did you solve it?
  • Have you used different HTML templating languages before?
  • Have you played around with the new CSS Flexbox or Grid specs?

Listen:

You can always compile a list of questions based on the technologies by doing a simple google search.

Frontend developer job titles:

Note:

Different job titles used in different companies based on their needs, responsibilities. I’ve listed common front end job titles to help you understand what it is.

So let’s take a look.

Front End Developer or Front End Engineer or Front End Web Developer or Front End Web Engineer or Client-Side Developer/Engineer, or Front End Software Developer/Engineer or UI Engineer: These are the common job titles that describe a developer skilled with HTML, CSS, DOM, and JavaScript and implementing these technologies on the web platform.

Front End Web Designer: If you find the word “Designer” in the job title, then it says that the designer who possesses front-end skills (HTML & CSS) but also with design skills (Visual Design and Interaction Design).

JavaScript Developer or JavaScript Engineer: This is a job where they primarily skilled more in JavaScript.

HTML/CSS Developer: This requires a frontend developer skilled with HTML and CSS, excluding JavaScript.

Conclusion:

Now you understand what a frontend developer is/what a front developer should know. You have a better idea of looking for a frontend developer.

Here’s my simple advice. Whatever tech roles that you are not familiar with, try to understand the basics and brush them up often.

If you have a strong knowledge of technologies, then you will find, communicate and build a strong relationship with the tech candidates easy. You could become a strong adviser for when someone is in need of a career change.

Hope this post has given you an idea of what a Frontend Developer is and let me know your thoughts on this post below in the comments!