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The Role Of A Front-end Developer

Bruno Vilches

November 11th, 2014

Front-end development

A good website is a window to the world. It enables a company to develop a strong web presence and reach out to millions of potential customers. Creating a website drives a company to become more global. It provides a wider platform to market products and services. A website acts as a necessary step towards better business sensibility.

However developing a website is a complex process that includes a number of activities. First, you need to make sure you know the basic requirements of building a website. You will need to gather knowledge and information about domain names, web hosting, and search options. Only then will you be in position to construct the website most applicable for your needs.

Next comes the designing part. Designing a website is a major project, and to get a rock solid web presence it’s better to leave it in the hands of a professional.

Nowadays, the internet has become such a large and ubiquitous digital space that we have started talking about “the cloud”. Here is where all the information and tools need to be and where you can provide websites so rich and interactive that they can be considered full scale web applications.

Front-end developer skillsWeb/Front-end Developers Roles

The roles of web developers and web designers have been around for over 15 years, and the role of a client-side or front-end web developer started to mature into a distinct entity around 10 years ago, as the content-presentation-behavior layer paradigm became embedded in people’s working methodologies.

Unfortunately the perception of the front-end developer’s role remains somewhat colored by an early association in observers’ minds with the other, loosely related role of the web designer. The role of web designer is an extremely important and valid one, but it is very different to that of the web developer. The lack of a clear distinction between the two, in some people’s minds, is unhelpful and does both roles an injustice.

Skill Set

The web developer (sometimes also called a client-side developer, front-end developer, web architect or front-end engineer) has a huge skill set and a job description to match. They are often expected and required to excel in many disciplines, and have good working knowledge of many others. They exist at the point where art, design, interaction, programming and behavioral and performance analysis intersect. Being a web developer can be an extremely fulfilling job.

As front-end developers spend much of their time deploying underlying data received from a backend database into their views, or pages, they might mistakenly be thought of as merely translators or interpreters. Transferring a graphical image — the Photoshop-ed design — into markup and style rules, is sometimes almost mockingly referred to as a ‘black art’ of making pixels lay out correctly onscreen.

A good business will understand how highly-nuanced user behavior is, and value the skilled interpretation and shaping of that behavior, in the interests of improving their digital offering.


The modern web developer has huge amounts of value to offer a business. Indeed the type of professional you often find in this role encapsulates the very best the web has to offer:

  • Up-to-date knowledge of available and emerging technologies
  • Extensive experience implementing de facto web standards and programming patterns
  • Database configuration and data manipulation
  • Implementation across multiple platforms and legacy software applications
  • Provisioning for mobile devices
  • Data aggregation
  • Graphics sourcing and creation
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • A thorough understanding of the aesthetics and parameters of web design

Furthermore, the best web developers have a wealth of knowledge and understanding around interaction design, user needs, hierarchies of data, navigation systems, user journeys, wireframing, design brief interpretation, focus group and usability testing, and the art of developing a finely polished product.

 A web developer’s role is broad: from developing in what Yahoo!’s Nate Koechley calls ‘the world’s most hostile development environment’ — the browser — and ensuring cross-platform and cross-browser consistency, to working with art directors and designers and remaining true to their vision, to considerations and implementations of accessibility, usability and the overall user experience. A web developer is responsible for everything that sits on the client side of the web stack — the content, presentation and behavior layers. Few other roles touch so many other key aspects of a business as does a web developer’s.

To get a wider perspective on the topic, don’t miss our webinar “The future of front-end development for business apps”.


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