Front-End Developers: What It Takes To Remain Relevant

Front-end developers are facing an evolving role, where their traditional bag of skills are becoming more diverse. Here's how they can stay competitive.

Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading

August 17, 2016

3 Min Read
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Front-end developers today need to bring more to the table than the traditional bag of skills that include CSS, HTML, and design theory. To stay competitive in the ever-evolving industry, they need to potentially extend beyond their comfort zones, including gaining a deeper understanding of some of the most popular programming languages that employers are seeking.

"Today's sites are more robust and have to work on more devices -- the push for responsive design, cross-platform delivery and a seemingly endless supply of frameworks for development is changing things drastically. The front-end landscape has shifted from that of traditional developer and toward a technical designer, with coding chops, who can also wear a marketing analyst hat," according to a Palo Alto Staffing Technology blog post.

Marketing skills come down to having a clear understanding of the target audience gleaned from the usage data on the site. That information is then potentially translated into new features and functions on the site.

Also, coding skills should extend to proficiency with JavaScript, one of the programming languages that employers are looking for in candidates this year. In addition to being well-versed in JavaScript, front-end developers should also have a good grounding in some of the JavaScript libraries, such as jQuery.

Additionally, JavaScript is increasingly becoming more functional beyond its ubiquitous use in browsers and websites and finding implementations in servers and virtual machines -- an added benefit for any developer looking to expand their desirability to recruiters.

[See 10 Programming Languages That Will Keep You Employed.]

However, the Palo Alto report cautions that as demand rises for more intuitive and innovative websites, large companies may either develop their own libraries for the front-end or lean on purpose-built open source platforms.

If a company opts for an open source platform, that will provide greater opportunity and flexibility for front-end developers compared to proprietary libraries that can let a front-end developer's skillset remain limited over the long haul.

The recruiting firm offers five steps front-end developers can take to get started on reaching their career goals:

  • Be active online. Website developers should have a presence on a sites such as GitHub to display their work and knowledge, and a presence on professional sites like LinkedIn.

  • Showcase your work. Display your best work in as many places as possible. Make sure recruiters see the work you want them to see.

  • It's all about JavaScript. In addition to mastering the most widely utilized front-end language, it pays to know as many JS libraries as possible and to position yourself to be able to customize or extend those libraries for your practical use.

  • Stay on top of things. Keep abreast of the changes in the industry that will affect your role. Learn new skills that to take advantage of these changes. In other words, be a life-long learner.

  • Enhance your skills. Spend a day during the week to review the code inside your libraries and evaluate whether they are the best solution for your project at hand. It will help you stay fresh and relevant.


About the Author(s)

Dawn Kawamoto

Associate Editor, Dark Reading

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's,, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool. More recently, she served as associate editor for technology careers site

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