What Does a Front-End Developer Do?

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 13, 2021

A front-end developer builds the front-end portion of websites and web applications—that is, the part that users actually see and interact with.

[Featured image] A front-end developer sits on a floor mat working on his laptop to build a website.

A front-end developer creates websites and applications using web languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript allow users to access and interact with the site or app. When you visit a website, the design elements you see were created by a front-end developer.

Contrast this with back-end developers, who work to develop the behind-the-scenes portions of a website or application, like data storage, security, site performance, or other server-side functions.

What does a front-end developer do? 

Front-end developers create the user interface (UI) that determines what each part of a site or application does and how it will look.

If someone wanted to build a website, for example, they might hire a front-end developer to create the site's layout. The front-end developer determines where to place images, what the navigation should look like, and how to present the site. Much of their work involves ensuring the appearance and layout of the site or application is easy to navigate and intuitive for the user.

Front-end developer salary and job prospects

The average salary for a front-end developer in the United States was $87,240 in December 2021, according to Glassdoor. Factors like education level, experience, or certifications may affect how much you earn. 

Front-end development is a career that is expected to continue being in demand for years to come. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that web developer jobs in the US should grow by 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is well above the overall average of 8 percent for all jobs [1]. 

Benefits of being a front-end developer

The demand and flexibility of this position mean that there are many career opportunities available across various industries and locations. Whether that means working with a non-profit organization, starting your own freelance business, or being an in-house developer for a company, you’ll likely have the chance to find a role that fits your interests.

The computer-heavy nature of the job also means plenty of opportunities to work remotely. Being a front-end developer can mean being able to work for companies across the country—or even the globe—from the comfort of your home.

A career as a front-end web developer can flex your creativity and problem-solving skills. As a field that is constantly evolving to incorporate new technology, front-end development can reward those who like to learn new things and face challenges.

How to become a front-end developer

Some of the most prominent skills you’ll want to have as a front-end developer are:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: These three languages are essential to anyone who wants to work in front-end development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript work together to determine the look and functionality of the page. 

  • Frameworks: Frameworks are tools required for JavaScript and CSS to perform the way you want them to. Having a solid understanding of them is crucial for creating page structures.

  • Developer tools and software: Software like version control, which tracks and controls changes in your source code, is critical to allow you to make changes without starting over. Understanding how to use many different software development tools is a building block to a successful career. 

In addition to understanding the technology that drives a website, having specific workplace skills can make you a better candidate for becoming a front-end developer. Here are a few you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Creativity

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication

  • Teamwork

Get started as a front-end developer

If you’re new to front-end development, try starting with an Introduction to HTML course. If you already have basic HTML skills and want to learn more, you can take beginning web developer courses to add HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills to your toolkit. From there, you can start exploring other courses like responsive web development to hone your skills—and move closer to a career in front-end development.

Glossary of front-end developer terms

CSS (cascading style sheets): The language used to create the layout, color, style, and so on of the pages you create with HTML  

Frameworks: A platform for developing software consistently, efficiently, and accurately 

HTML (hypertext markup language): The basic building block needed to develop websites, a language that allows you to make notes in digital documents that are different from regular text 

JavaScript: The programming language of developers that determines what the page will do 

UI (user interface): The graphical layout of an application

UX (user experience): How a user interacts with the application 

Version control: The process of tracking and controlling changes to your source code

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Web Developers and Digital Designers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#tab-1." Accessed December 13, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 13, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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