How would you like to work at world-leading companies while making an impact through beautiful front-end development?
There’s high-demand for exceptional artists of the modern web, and this guide is going to show you how to get started.
Latest studies say that by 2020 there’s going to be a deficit of approximately 1 million developers in the United States. And that number will be much higher worldwide.
And since people who work in software are some of the most well-rewarded individuals, it’s well worth your while to consider picking up this new skill. You never know, it could eventually turn into a career for you.
The first section of this guide is dedicated to answering pressing questions about front-end development. If you know about responsibilities, salaries, and other aspects of being a front-end developer, then you can skip the 2nd part. The second section of this guide is dedicated to resources, tutorials, and tips.
What is front-end development?
You can also think of it this way, every website you browse, including this one, has been in some way built by a front-end developer. At least on the client-side.
While front-end is one of the most accessible paths in website development, it can also be one of the most challenging.
The technology for creating websites is always changing, which means that developers have to adapt their skills to the latest practices regularly. It can be tiresome for a beginner but gets better after a year or two of solid development practice.
Can you learn front-end development for free?
You absolutely can!
It’s getting a lot easier to learn web development, mostly thanks to the huge influx of new resources, tutorials, and open-source projects.
Projects like freeCodeCamp are helping millions of people to write code for their first programs. And the freeCodeCamp Blog is full of exciting articles not only about front-end but also other aspects of web development too. It’s worth bookmarking!
While the premise of this guide is to help you learn for free, we cannot overlook the benefits of paid courses.
There’s plenty of startups out there catering to the determined crowd, and we’ll be highlighting some amazing course platforms which will even give you a certificate at the end of it all.
What is the average salary for a front-end developer?
A front-end developer with prior experience can expect to take home more than $100,000 per year if living within the United States.
That’s not a bad number!
Juniors developers can expect to take home anywhere from $60,000 and above.
And the salaries in Europe seem to be quite reasonable as well; Germany has an average of $50,000 per year.
Worth noting is that the popularity of remote work has exploded in recent years, which means that developers are looking to equalize their pay across the board to international standards. This is more the reason to consider becoming a front-end developer!
How to find a job as a front-end developer?
Technically, a job should be the last thing to talk about. First, you must amass the skills and then think about potential opportunities. But, since this post is structured as a guide, you can always come back and check this section for reference.
Here is a list of the most popular job boards for front-end developers:
- Authentic Jobs
- GitHub Jobs
- Front-End Developer Jobs
- CSS-Tricks Jobs Board
- CodePen Jobs Board
- Stack Overflow Jobs
- Remote-friendly Startups
- Working Nomads
- Hacker News Hiring
This is a somewhat condensed list of sites that provide recommendations for finding your next front-end job. Other alternatives you have is to work on a personal project in hopes of making it profitable or spend your time doing freelance gigs.
Resources: Where to start.
The following resources are all about getting started. We’re taking a reasonably linear approach in this regard. And for the simple reason that there is an enormous amount of resources out there.
To get you started fast, our focus is on platforms and front-end tools that weave in the modern workflow. As a result, you can learn basic to intermediate coding syntax while understanding the tools that govern the modern developer’s workflow.
It’s highly recommended that you take your time with these resources, as they will prepare you for courses and tutorials found in the second part of this guide.
If you spend even a few minutes looking up resources for learning how to code, then Codecademy is undoubtedly to be one of your first hits. This learn-to-code platform is well-known and has served over 100M+ people throughout seven years.
At the time, Codecademy was quite revolutionary with its dynamic and interactive coding interface. And while many followed the same path, Codecademy has kept a consistent track record.
These days, you can get a certificate upon completion, and many have used the said certificate to land themselves a job in a top-level startup; as a junior dev, no less.
All the while, there is the argument that Codecademy isn’t enough.
From an experienced developer standpoint — sure, perhaps this platform is too simple. But, if you are only learning about front-end development, then there is nothing more satisfying than following step by step instructions with real-time results.
As a front-end developer, you are going to spend a reasonable amount of time working with the layout. The layout is the canvas upon which you structure a website. This blog text is positioned inside a row, which is part of a larger container.
And that applies to all webpage designs. Using Learn CSS Layout, you can get a fundamental understanding of how containers and rows work, and also how you can position content exactly where you want it.
The layout is a fairly important topic to grasp, so spend a good few hours diving deep into your layout experience. The best way to learn is through practice.
Once you’re making sense of how layouts work, it’s time to do some concrete experiments. Sure, you can go ahead and try to develop a custom UI as your first project, but that might scare you away more than encourage you to continue.
So, you need to learn about a framework or two. A framework is a simple way to get started with any kind of web development. You’re given the tools and the documentation to start building interactive websites on day one. And one of the best to ever do it is Bootstrap.
Bootstrap is used heavily across all of the Web and is without a doubt one of the most popular front-end frameworks in the world.
Heck, a good percentage of the sites you visit on a daily basis are using some Bootstrap functionality.
One of the fantastic things about Bootstrap is how quickly you can get started. The documentation pages are full of examples and use cases. And best of all, Bootstraps layout system is designed with responsive design in mind. So, your Bootstrap-based sites are automatically mobile-friendly.
And if you like what Bootstrap has to offer, here are additional resources on popular front-end frameworks:
Despite the technology you’re using to build your websites, you still have to follow certain rules and regulations. Of course, one can choose to ignore such requirements, but at the cost of user experience and digital compatibility.
Front-End Checklist is an excellent tool where you can provide your websites URL, and the platform audits your site for best practices in front-end development. This includes checking whether you have optimized your images or whether you are following the best SEO practices.
You should try and use this app for as long as it takes you to understand as to what are the modern requirements for professional websites and apps. Besides, the non-intrusive and smooth UI is an absolute pleasure to work with.
Vue.js is a great example that shows how a small idea/concept can grow into one of the most recognized things in the world. Indeed, Vue.js has taken the front-end community by a storm.
The framework is entirely supported by the community — both on the financial and development side.
It’s the perfect example of how open-source can come together and make great things happen. And, as a front-end developer, you ought to study more on open-source and why it’s important.
Here are some highly recommended reads on Vue.js:
- Vue.js Tutorial for beginners
- Vue.js: the good, the meh, and the ugly
- A curated list of awesome things related to Vue.js
- Vue JS – The Complete Guide
And last but not least, check out the different projects built with Vue.js at the Vue.js Showcase website.
Everything we have looked at so far has been free and open-source for the most part. All you need is to grab yourself Sublime Text, and you can be well on your way to front-end experimentation, and you absolutely should be! Reading tutorials and framework documentation is only half the battle.
The real learning happens in your text editor and the browser. The only downside to this approach is that it’s not entirely systematic. You’re operating in the free-for-all mode, and results might vary on your ability to discipline yourself.
Unless you decide to invest, and by invest I mean to spend a symbolic sum to purchase any of the front-end books from A Book Apart. These guys are some of the best in the industry, and veteran front-end devs repeatedly recommend their books.
GitHub is your digital office for all-things coding and development. It’s the largest open-source platform in the world, home to the majority of the world’s most popular frameworks and tools.
With GitHub, you can host your projects and welcome other people to submit their contributions. And you can submit contributions yourself to other projects.
You can also explore GitHub and everything that it has to offer. For example, GitHub is home to the famous Awesome lists, which are massive collections of tutorials, resources, tools, and other stuff for specific frameworks and technologies.
E.g., Awesome Front-End List that includes up-to-date information on the latest things to know about front-end and where it is headed.
Stack Overflow has a notorious reputation for being the strictest Q&A programming site in the world. And it really is so.
The users at Stack Overflow don’t take lightly questions that haven’t been researched or properly analyzed. And while this might feel offputting, it helps to create a strong sense of purpose.
You see, whenever a user submits an answer to a question, other users can come forward and upvote that answer. In the end, you get several ‘verified’ answers that thoroughly answer the users’ question. As a result, the hierarchy of the site remains clear and consistent.
As a beginner front-end developer, you’ll want to use Stack Overflow to understand certain topics, but also to ask questions if you have to. For the majority of the beginner stuff though, you should be able to find concise answers within seconds.
Tutorials & Courses: Getting a grip on the ecosystem.
The first section was dedicated entirely to resources and platforms that will help you get started. You should spend a reasonable amount of time on each resource that we listed so that you can get an actual feel for what to expect from front-end development.
Once you have done all that, you can turn your attention towards tutorials and courses. These are more strictly organized resources with a strong emphasis on learning.
It’s worth noting that some of the following courses are not available on a free-to-use basis. However, we reassure you that the following recommendations are absolutely top of the line.
Furthermore, platforms like Frontend Masters will get you up to speed with all the technologies used in the world’s most successful startups.
The goal for this post is not to promote front-end development as a hobby, but to give you palpable resources so that you can be on your way of establishing a career out of all your learning.
MDN (Mozilla Developer Network) is going to make your acquaintance one way or another. This Web Documentation platform is dedicated entirely to promoting how the web works. Here you can learn about developer tools, web technologies, and web development itself.
When you search for some specifics on CSS or HTML, it’s often MDN that comes up as the first result on Google and other search engines. The guides, specifications, and overall insights are structured in a way that makes sense for front-end developers.
As stated earlier in this guide, following a strict curriculum is a much linear way to learn and adapt. And to get you started with the courses, you have to check out what edX has to offer. Not only can you get certificates upon completion, but you can also learn at your preferred pace.
Should you wish to get the full front-end certificate, you’ll have to make a modest investment of $500 — but this also gives you direct access to the course instructors and more. Numerous companies have used edX to enroll their employees in this specific program.
Frontend Masters is similar to a bootcamp experience. The courses you can find on this platform are extremely thorough, with emphasis on long-form content and project-oriented learning.
Here you can learn about technologies like React, Vue, Angular, Node.js, and so much more. The production quality is extremely high-quality so that you can enjoy an experience similar to that in an actual Bootcamp course.
As a registered user, you can track your progress on the Learn page. This page tracks your learning progress, showing percentages for each technology individually, but also percentages for entire stacks. It’s a fun way to keep yourself motivated.
Last but not least, having Frontend Masters course completions on your resume will not go unnoticed by your employer.
Egghead is very similar to the platform mentioned above but stands out with more firm and condensed lessons. For example, the ‘Building Dynamic Lists in Flutter with ListViews’ lesson is only 2 minutes long though it gives you enough learning material to understand the concept truly.
Egghead provides tutorials and courses on frameworks, libraries, languages, tools, and platforms. Want to learn about mobile development? Not a problem, Egghead has course material for iOS, Android, and other platforms.
The yearly pricing is a modest $250, but this grants you access to every single course and tutorial found on the site. You can also discuss each lesson with other community members. Well worth the investment!
Chris Coyier is an absolute legend in the CSS community. Not only has he kept up with CSS-Tricks for over a decade, but he is also the co-founder of CodePen — a popular code sharing platform for web developers.
One thing you can count on about CSS-Tricks is that it remains consistently updated, and stories are published based on currently trending topics and technologies. As a result, you can quickly ramp up your skillset using the tutorials provided by many of the site’s authors.
In short, it’s a useful site to keep in your bookmarks and check once a day. You’re going to get immense value out of the tutorials themselves, but also the recommendations that come alongside them.
Scotch is as much of a learning resource as it is a place for the latest happenings in web development. Having been around since 2014 — the site has amassed an enormous following alongside thousands of free web development tutorials.
For the most part, you’re going to be building real and tangible apps. E.g. Would you like to learn how to build a Twitter clone Vue and Adonis? Not a problem, just enroll in the free course, and you’ll be set.
Wonderful site and cannot recommend it enough for any new and existing front-end devs!
Tips: If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Since you have made it this far, you might as well indulge yourself in some of the following tips. While front-end is a lucrative career choice, it involves a fairly steep learning curve, and quite a bit of a headache while you wrap your head around the current timeline.
Nevertheless, for the level of opportunities you can attract –, it’s well worth the uphill battle!
Learn within reason.
Why are you learning to program? Do you want to get a better job? Would you like to build creative websites? Figure out your reason, because it will come in handy. It will come in handy in those days, weeks even, when you’re banging your head against a wall — questioning whether any of this is worth it.
Find your tribe.
You will want to make at least a few connections with like-minded individuals, and even mentors if possible. When I went to borrow a Pascal book from a CS teacher at my old school, he was super-friendly and open to the idea of helping me with any problems I might have. Consider a similar route, either by finding a local community or by finding other developers in online communities. It’s much easier to learn when someone points a finger to where you need to look.
Avoid learning everything.
If you would like to learn more, read this post by Ali Spittel where she’s sharing more than 25 tips for new developers.
Get out there
What are you waiting for? Get out there and start learning! Make sure you check back on this guide to front-end development every few months for new updates and tips.