A front-end developer turns a design into reality using codes. Therefore, design plays an important role in front-end development. However, it may be difficult for a developer to understand the front-end design, as coding and designing require different sets of skills. Therefore, most front-end developers are not proficient in front-end designing and the work of development may suffer due to this reason. In this article, you will find some concepts and rules that are easy to follow for the developers. These tips for front-end developers will be helpful if you have difficulty understanding the front-end designing. These tips will help you move from the beginning to the completion of a project without ruining the design and you will even notice an improvement in the project of front-end development.
14 Essential Skills to Level-Up Your Game as a Front-End Developer in 2021
1. Focusing on Right Frameworks
2. Static Site Generators
SSG (Static Site Generators) unify the power of single-page applications with server-side rendering that is important for SEO and initial load time. Many open-source frameworks for front-end development, such as Next.js or Nuxt.js, are fitted with useful features, such as module bundlers, markdown support, integrated test runner etc. Many projects choose SSG despite having no need for server-side rendering in order to benefit from these features. Hence, it is essential to have some experience in the following resources if you want to master the skills of front-end development.
- React-based framework
- Vue-based framework
- CDN Based Project: The apps or websites built on JAMstack have unbeatable speed since the entire project can be served directly from a CDN. There is no need to store a project on a server. It is possible to distribute the projects, as they do not rely upon server-side code.
- Advanced Build Tools: You can take advantage of the advanced build tools while using JAMstack, such as PostCSS, Babel, Webpack and friends.
- Everything in Git Repository: You can clone a project from the Git repository. You just have to use a standard procedure to install the required dependencies. It enables you to locally run an entire project. You need not clone any database or install any complex. It lessens the contributor friction alongside simplifying the testing and staging workflows.
- Automated Builds: Changes to the content will not go live until running another build since Jamstack has prebuilt markup. This process can be automated using a webhook or publishing platform that incorporates this service.
- Atomic Deployment: In a large JAMstack project, you have to redeploy hundreds of files for the latest changes. If you upload these files one by one, then an inconsistent state prevails until the completion of the entire process. However, you can avoid this issue using atomic deployment. In this scenario, no changes will go live until all modified files are uploaded.
- Instant Cache Invalidation: You have to ensure that a deployment is really going live if the build-to-deploy cycle takes place regularly. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the CDN can handle prompt cache purges.
4. Progressive Web Apps
PWA or Progressive Web Apps use the latest web browser APIs and modern web capabilities in order to deliver an app-like user experience to the cross-platform web applications. They have the following qualities.
- Reliability (quick loading and can work without requiring internet connection)
- Engaging (Excellent user-experience and native app like feeling)
- Fast (quick responses to user interaction and smooth animations)
Many companies have started using Progressive Web Apps instead of using native apps in order to offer a flawless mobile experience to their users. Therefore, PWAs will become popular in 2021.
PWAs use a ‘web app manifest’ for a full-screen experience whilst using service workers (programmable network proxy) for offline functionalities. Benefits of using Progressive Web Apps are –
- Can be added to a user’s home screen from the browser
- Can work without an internet connection
- Support ‘push’ notifications for better user engagement
- Use Google’s Lighthouse features
You have to learn GraphQL if you want to master the art of front-end development. In yesteryears, REST was regarded as a standard software solution when designing a web API (Application Programming Interface), as it had some novel concepts to offer, such as stateless servers. However, REST failed to keep up with the pace of quickly changing clients who were accessing them. Hence, the APIs build on REST was considered to be inflexible.
GraphQL (of Facebook) was designed in order to resolve the issues that developers were experiencing when using REST.
- When using REST,
Web developers will collect the data from numerous end-points developed with a particular purpose.
- When using GraphQL,
Web developers will send a query to a GraphQL server with data requirements.
This server will send a JSON object with the corresponding data.
GraphQL also uses a strong type system.
On GraphQL server, everything is defined using GraphQL SDL (schema definition language). Backend and front-end developers can work independently after developing the schema, as they know about the defined data structure.
6. IDEs or Code Editors
The VS-Code of Microsoft will be the most wanted editor for the majority of the front-end engineers in 2021. It has features similar to the IDE (Integrated Development Environment), such as highlighting, code completion etc. The extension marketplace also increases the usefulness of VS-Code where front-end developers will find the following extensions.
- CSS Peek
- Live Sass Compiler
- Debugger for Chrome
- Live Server
7. Code Testing Skills
It is essential to include tests in the process of front-end development, as it is prudent not to use any untested code in production, especially when working in the enterprise or commercial environments. There are different types of test cases, such as
- Unit tests
Testing one function or component
- Integration tests
Individual units of a software solution are combined and tested to determine if they are working as per expectation after being integrated.
- End-to-end test
Testing the workflow of an application from the beginning to end
There are different ways to test a software solution, such as snapshot testing or manual testing. It is essential to strengthening your testing skills if you aspire to become an expert web developer.
8. Writing Clean Code
It is equally important to learn the concepts of clean codes if you want to become an expert and senior web developer. The clean codes have the following qualities.
- Easy to read
- No duplications
- Minimum use of entities (methods, classes and function)
When developing clean codes, you may benefit from the following practices.
- Provide meaningful names to the classes/variables/methods/functions
- Functions will be small containing as little arguments as possible
- Comments are not necessary, as a clean code will speak for itself
9. Pay Attention to Typography
Typography has an impact on the end-look of any design and experienced web designers spend a lot of time on this particular matter. Therefore, you have to research thoroughly in order to find the right typography. You may find suitable typography for your project through font pairings.
You may follow the typography selected by a web designer if you already have a design. In this scenario, it is not enough to select the similar font. It is equally important to pay attention to the letter-spacing, line-spacing and other details alongside noticing which font has been used at which spot. For example,
If a designer has used Georgia at the headers and Open Sans at the body, then it is prudent not to interchange their positions, as typography can make or break the aesthetics of a design.
You have to spend a lot of time in order to match a designer’s typography, as it ensures an excellent outcome.
10. Design Relationships & Hierarchy
An expert front-end developer recognizes how the design works with hierarchy and also ensures that the end-product reflects the same concept. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to design relationships and hierarchy. For example,
- Distance between the titles and the body of the text.
- Distance between the title and the text above it.
- How a designer is indicating the related and unrelated elements, text-bodies and titles.
A web designer may indicate relationships between different elements/titles/text-bodies in the following manner.
- Boxing the related content
- Using varied white spaces
- Using contrasting or similar colours for related and unrelated content
Whether the content is dynamic or has not been specifically designed, it is important to focus on design relationships and hierarchy if you want to become an expert in front-end development.
11. Be Precise about Alignment and Whitespace
It is important to understand how a designer used the whitespace and to follow the same concept during front-end development. You have to ensure that all elements have been properly aligned alongside ensuring that the spacing around the edges of all elements is as consistent as possible.
Sometimes, you may need to keep an additional space in order to indicate the hierarchy. It is impossible to maintain the same spacing in this scenario. Hence, you can multiply the spacing which has been used somewhere else and use it at this place. For example,
You may multiply the default spacing by two in order to create a little separation and may multiply it by a higher number in order to create more spacing.
12. Even a Single Pixel Matters
You have to match the original design to the end result as much as possible, as every pixel matter. You may not achieve pixel-perfect precision in every aspect of a design. For example, you may not have as much control over the letter-spacing as a designer and the CSS shadow may not match flawlessly. However, you have to do everything in order to ensure that the end result matches the original design as closely as possible.
If even one pixel is missing here and there, then it will leave a negative impact on the end result. You may use the following methods to compare the original design file to the end-result.
- Use various modern tools available for this task.
- Take a screenshot of the end-result and lay it over the original design file to compare each element.
At present, Git is regarded as the best ‘version control’ system in web development. Hence, it is essential for each front-end developer to learn the basic workflows and concepts of Git. It enables you to efficiently work in teams of varying sizes. Some popular Git commands are –
Alongside learning the commands, front-end developers have to learn the basic concept behind Git.
14. And Yes, Soft Skills are Must!
Soft skills are as important as knowing the technical side of frontend development. It enables you to properly communicate with the team members. Hence, it is essential to develop soft skills if you want to lead a team or want to progress in your career. You may work on the communication, teamwork, empathy, approachability, patience, open-mindedness, helpfulness, problem-solving skills, time-management, accountability and creativity.
So, What’s Your Goal!
It’s not possible every time that every front-end developer can be a creative designer at all. But we recommend that every front-end developer should be at least competent in terms of design.
Being a front-end developer, you need to have a better understanding of design concepts. And based on that, you can make large projects shine among various available content variations. If you are stuck at some technical design aspect, just ask the front-end experts to create win-win situations.