What Does a Front-End Developer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A front-end developer builds the portion of websites and web applications that users see and interact with. Learn about being a front-end developer while exploring the skills, terminology, and qualifications needed to land a job in this design field.

[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 that 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 are easy to navigate and intuitive for the user.

"I've always found crafting polished user interactions that surprise and delight users to be the most rewarding and engaging task," says Mari Batilando, a software engineer at Meta. "In order to do this, you need to both have an eye for detail and a rock-solid understanding of the platform."

Front-end developer salary and job prospects

The average base salary for a front-end developer in Canada is $103,357 [1]. 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 Government of Canada Job Bank reports a positive outlook for jobs in the life sciences field, which includes front-end developers. Overall, 10,400 new jobs are expected to become available between 2022 and 2031, while 12,700 new job seekers are also predicted to seek to fill those positions [2]. 

Benefits of being a front-end developer

The demand and flexibility of this position mean that many career opportunities are 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 the globe from the comfort of your home.

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

Skills to learn 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 page's look and functionality. 

  • Frameworks: Frameworks are tools required for JavaScript and CSS to perform how 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, start with an introductory course, such as Meta's Introduction to Web Development. 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, colour, 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

Take the next step

Are you ready to take the next step toward becoming a front-end developer? If so, consider enrolling in the Meta Front-end Developer Professional Certificate course taught by Meta staff. You'll learn fundamentals like HTML and CSS and start gaining experience using them.

Article sources


Talent. “Front End Developer Average Salary in Canada, 2022, https://ca.talent.com/salary?job=front+end+developer.” Accessed June 3, 2024.

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