What is Frontend Development?

When you’re using a website or app, everything you can see and interact with is down to frontend development. A frontend developer’s job is to design the look and feel of the website – from the buttons, fonts and colours to the general layout. 

They are charged with making the user experience as good as it can possibly be, across a range of browsers, platforms and devices. They do this by using a combination of design, technology and programming tools.

Common frontend developer tasks

A frontend developer would be expected to take on any of the following:

  • Designing and overseeing the user experience of an app or website
  • Using programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create the frontend
  • Maintaining and updating the user interface
  • Developing new tools to improve interaction with the website or app
  • Carrying out testing and debugging

What skills do you need to be a frontend developer?

Technical skills

Web design

A frontend developer needs to have a mastery of the design element of an application, with an understanding of visual layout and functionality, as well as the technology that underpins interface design. They should have experience using programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

UX design 

Aside from the visual aspect, frontend developers must also have expertise at developing the user experience. Understanding how the user will interact with the website or app and knowing how to optimise the experience are key factors. They must also understand the fundamentals of responsive design, as every modern website or app is now used across multiple platforms and devices.

Testing and debugging

Examining code within a website and detecting errors is part of designing the user experience. Frontend developers must have a wide range of knowledge of various testing frameworks across different programming languages.

Programming languages

Frontend developers need to be skilled at the three main coding languages that are used in frontend development:

  • HTML – the starting point for any budding frontend developer, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) makes up the building blocks to every website or app. HTML lets the browser know how to display the website
  • CSS – the decorative tool of web design, CSS (cascading style sheets) brings the visual side of a website or app to life, implementing everything from fonts and themes to colors and icons
  • JavaScript – the scripting language that takes something static and gives it life. JavaScript is what makes it possible to interact with a website or app

Soft skills

Problem solving

Frontend development involves  a whole range of complex problems and challenges. Overcoming potentially stressful situations with clear, creative thinking is a big part of what makes a frontend developer successful.

Communication skills

Being able to clearly express ideas and listen to the ideas of others is an important part of the frontend development process. From design debates to technical discussions, a frontend developer must be able to get involved with strategies in a positive way.


A big part of being a frontend developer is about using tools and technologies to play with ideas and conventions and create something that resonates with the user. Having a flair for graphic design and the imagination to create an interface that’s fast, flowing and captivating will set you apart.  

Frontend development frameworks and libraries

Frameworks and libraries make a frontend developer’s job easier. They act like a template, giving developers ready-developed code to work with. This means that developers can work quickly and efficiently.


A free and open-source CSS framework, Bootstrap enables frontend developers to quickly design and customise mobile-first websites and apps. It comes with a huge array of reusable codes written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, to give developers a comprehensive set of tools to get creative. Hugely popular over the last few years, Bootstrap still holds its own alongside the most popular frontend frameworks out there.


One of the most commonly used frameworks for frontend development, AngularJS is an open-source framework for JavaScript that is used to develop single page web applications, or SPAs.

Maintained by Google and a community of corporations and individuals, it’s fully extensible and can be used alongside other libraries. As some apps work better than others with AngularJS, developers should be aware of when and when not to use it.


Another open-source, free to use library, React.js is used to build highly efficient UIs. The most widely used frontend JavaScript library for building the view layer for mobile and web applications, React.js also enables frontend developers to create reusable UI components. It’s fast, scalable and simple to use, hence its popularity.


jQuery takes time-consuming tasks that need many lines of code and converts them into methods that only use a single line of code. It’s an open-source JavaScript library that deals with everything from HTML/DOM manipulation, AJAX interactions and cross-browser JavaScript development, essentially making it easier to utilise JavaScript on your website. 

What’s the average frontend developer salary?

Average salaries* for frontend developers vary across Europe – the average salary in Germany is €52,833 per year; it’s €40,707 per year in France and in Spain it’s €30,529. 

*Source: Glassdoor

How do you become a frontend developer?

Start by doing your research. Check out CodeOp’s ebook 5 Steps to Starting a Successful Career in Programming to gain an understanding of how to go about making the move to get into frontend development. If you feel ready to get started learning how to become a developer, you can also check out our Full Stack Development course guide by clicking the image below.