What is a Front-End Developer?

Are You a Front-End Developer?

Behind every beautiful website is a talented front-end developer. These aesthetically inclined coders possess the logical capacity to build the functional part of websites users interact with. They are sharp, innovative, and committed to constantly improving their technique. Sound like you? Read on.

Here’s what a front-end developer does day to day:

  • Utilizes three different languages (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) to construct user-friendly sites and solve complex problems, often via trial and error.
  • Works with designers to implement the elements that give a site or native application its desired look and feel.
  • Keeps current on perpetually evolving best practices through a collaborative community of open-source–embracing developers. Front-end developers can use newsletters such as JavaScript Weekly to keep current.

Front-end developers are born collaborators, top-notch communicators, keen problem solvers, visual-minded, and tenacious when it comes to staying on the cutting edge of constantly evolving industry best practices. Do you have what it takes?

If the answer is yes, it’s time to get familiar with the three building blocks of front-end development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Short for Hypertext Markup Language, HTML is a system of tags that essentially hold a website together and allow browsers to parse and render (understand and display) a page. Think of HTML as a website’s skeleton: it’s not much to look at it and it can’t move without muscles, but the muscles can’t move without the bones to hold on to, either. A site could technically be made with only HTML, but it would be bare bones. Picture a default, black font on a non-interactive white page. That’s where CSS and JavaScript come in. Front-end developers create a Document Object Model (DOM) with HTML to allow CSS and JavaScript to connect with elements on the web page. The CSS and JavaScript are what make a page visually appealing, engaging, and functional.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is the language responsible for the look and feel of a website that a user is most aware of when interacting with it. Front-end developers inject CSS into HTML to manipulate things such as color, fonts, headers, footers, alignment, and more. CSS can even be used to alter the underlying structure of a page as it appears to the user.


Front-end developers use JavaScript to add functionality to a page. Anytime you click a button and something happens, you can thank JavaScript (and the web developer who coded it) for the result. JavaScript also allows pages to interact with other pages. Coding JavaScript is primarily where the logical aspect of front-end developing comes in, and good developers are clever, creative, and collaborative when it comes to using it. What can and can’t be done with JavaScript is constantly evolving. It’s an exciting time to be in the field.

Get Started

If you’re ready to dive in, the first step is to get a handle on these three languages and useful frameworks within them (such as Angular and Ember). Codecademy is a great—and free—place to start getting familiar. Looking for something a bit more personalized? Check out our part-time and evening courses. Contributing to open-source projects can be a means to test your skills and work with other developers. Plus, they look great on a resume.

Are you ready to dive in? What will you build?

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