10 Skills to Look for When Hiring Front-End Developers

In a nutshell, front-end development refers to everything you see on this page, from the stylised text to the page scrolling. For businesses, good front-end development is important to attract more customers and keep them on their website. It also establishes and improves the brand’s online presence. As such, hiring front-end developers with skilled expertise can turn data and design to graphical interface that users can interact with.

 

While there is a large pool of front-end developers available, finding the right one who can properly execute your brand can be difficult. That is why it is crucial to know what technical skills and traits to look for in your candidates.

 

To help employers distinguish good front-end developers from the rest, here’s a quick guide on the skills and traits to consider.

 

 

The Basics - HTML, CSS, JavaScript 

An entry-level front-end web developer must at least have a good understanding of the three building blocks of front-end development: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You won’t find any job description for front-end developers without these requirements as their work mainly revolves around these technologies.

 

Since this is something that should be in all front-end developers’ qualifications, let’s briefly touch up on each of language and list down related technical and soft skills that you need to look for when hiring front-end developers.

 

First, let’s define the three basic programming languages for front-end developers:

 

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a standard markup language used to create web pages and applications, and thus, it is considered the backbone of any web development process. It is this programming language that provides the overall framework of a website’s look.

 

  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language used in the presentation aspect of a site. With CSS, developers are able to give a website its unique look.

 

  • JavaScript is used to transform static HTML pages to dynamic web pages. Simply put, if HTML and CSS control a web page’s presentation, JavaScript controls its function. This tech language is used to implement interactive features such as video, audio, page animation, games, and more.

 

 

Other technical skills related to these languages are knowledge of the CSS and JavaScript frameworks (e.g. Bootstrap) and CSS preprocessing (e.g. Sass, Less, and Stylus).

 

All of these are big components for front-end development which are required to be able to build off of it.. As such, it is best to find a front-end developer with a solid foundation of these technologies.

 

Now that we have briefly gone through the basic skills of software developers, let’s get on with the list. Here are more technical qualifications and soft skills that employers should consider when hiring front-end developers.

 

 

Related Article: Front End and Back End Developers: A Quick Comparison

 

 

Technical Skills

 

Version Control/Git

After marking up with HTML, styling with CSS, and programming with JavaScript, a front-end developer may have already gone through several versions of the code during its development. At times when they have to revise a code, the worst thing that can happen is to start over just to change a single line of code.

 

With version control, developers can track and control changes to the source code which prevents the whole code from being affected. A popular version control tool is Git, a free and open source control system that claims to be flexible, fast and robust. Employers will definitely want to hire someone knowledgeable on how to use version control as it can save a lot of time and effort when doing revisions.

 

 

Responsive Design

If you’re reading this on your desktop, try switching to your phone and check how the text and images adjust to fit your mobile screen, and vice versa.

 

How this page automatically adjusts to your screen size is due to the page’s responsive design. A solid understanding the principles of good responsive design and knowledge on how to implement it are an essential skills to look for when hiring front-end developers.

 

Rest assured, front-end developers who know how to implement good responsive designs enables a website to work on any device type or screen size, which is important for you to cater all users who want to access your website.

 

 

Browser Developer Tools

All modern web browsers have developer tools that enable developers to test and adjust the page in the browser itself. This also allows developers to see and tweak how the browser is interpreting the code. Developer tools will vary per browser, but it generally consists of an inspector and a JavaScript console.

 

Check if your candidate is knowledgeable on how to use and adjust code using this browser tool. The way a browser renders a developer’s code determines whether it’s a success or not.

 

 

Web Performance

Web performance refers to the time it takes for a website to load. A front-end developer’s aesthetic design and features will not matter if the web page loads slowly.

 

For businesses, this is an important factor to consider as a slow-loading page can drive away users from your site, and could greatly increase your bounce rate. All of the effort of designing and coding the site will be put to waste if there’s no user viewing or interacting with the site.

 

As such, a good front-end developer must know how to optimise a page to lessen its loading time, thus increasing its web performance. Scaling and compressing images, and minifying CSS and JavaScript are just some of the steps a front-end developer must know to increase web performance.

 

Optimising can be a tedious and time-consuming task for front-end developers; this is why it is best to hire someone who also knows how to use building and automation tools like Grunt to improve your web’s performance.

 

 

Testing/Debugging

After the development, the last step before deployment is testing your web page or application. While it’s not a basic requirement for all front-end developers, it’s still a good additional skill to look for to further ensure the quality of your website.

 

Whether it’s a personal blog page or an international site for a big corporation, bugs are inevitable to the development process. To move your project forward and ensure the quality of your web page, testing and debugging is a vital and crucial part of the development process.

 

When hiring front-end developers, look for someone who knows one or more testing methods such as functional testing, or unit testing. It’s also good to hire a front-end developer with knowledge or experience using programs such as Jasmine and Mocha to help speed up and simplify the testing process.

 

 

Related Article: Hire Web Developers Skilled in These Back-end Frameworks

 

 

Soft Skills

 

Eye for design

Although UI/UX designers are hired to design a website or application’s aesthetics and functionality, employers should still consider a candidate’s eye for visual design when hiring front-end developers.

 

Imagine a front-end developer who needs to code your company’s homepage design. Without artistic vision, the front-end developer might not accurately replicate the given design.

 

In addition, a good front-end developer should have the eye to recommend visually-appealing features and functions to create a great user experience. Consider putting a creative flair on your criteria when screening front-end developers.

 

 

Attention to detail

While a front-end developer looks at the overall design and user experience of a website, a front-end developer shouldn’t also forget about the details. Small details like text spacing, font size, pop ups, and working links all matter to the overall design and functionality of a website, as well as the company’s brand.

 

During the hiring process, assess this skill based on the candidates’ thoroughness, willingness to work, and ability to stick with a task. Since front-end developers are responsible for a website’s overall look and function, recruiters can also try to look at how their CV or portfolio is arranged. Are the details organised? Do the design and information grasp the importance of attracting people and conveying a message?

 

 

Critical Thinking

As with any developer, good critical thinking skills is a must-have. Due to the nature of their work, front-end developers must be problem solvers, always ready to troubleshoot or think of innovative ways to execute a feature.

 

When assessing this skill, many employers give critical thinking exercises. However, to fully assess the candidates’ ability, it’s best to present real-life, daily problems that the candidate may face upon working on the project.

 

 

Patience

An often overlooked trait, patience is an important trait for front-end developers. There are a lot of elements that a front-end developer needs to consider such as design, programming, and collaboration. These requirements combined with time and requirement constraints often result in a lot of challenges and frustrations for them.

 

Behind the scenes, front-end developers must deal with lots of bug fixes, page tests, cross-platform issues, all while collaborating with their team members. It would need a lot of patience to make all these happen.

 

 

Love for learning

As the tech and market landscape continuously change, front-end developers must keep themselves up-to-date with the latest news, technologies, and best practices in order to improve their skills and to stay relevant.

 

Check if the candidate knows the latest front-end developments and trends and ask them how  they keep themselves updated. Employers can also ask their candidates what motivates them to learn and what inspires them to work. This way, employers can know if the candidates’ goals are aligned with the company.

 

 

For employers: this list of skills serves as your guide to help you narrow down your choices and find front-end developers with a good background and understanding of front-end development. However, take note that a front-end developer’s job description and job requirements differ according to the requirements of the project or the business.

 

For budding front-end developers: This list can serve as a guide for you to know the essential skills to work on to have a solid background on front-end development. Once you have mastered the basics, you can continue to expand your knowledge and expertise by learning more JavaScript frameworks (e.g. Angular, React) or other server-side programming languages (e.g. Python, Ruby, Java), and by building up UI/UX skills for better design and function.

 

 


Easily and quickly find experienced and skilled front-end developers from our large pool of offshore tech talents. Learn how Cloud Employee works, see our Developer Pricing Guide, or talk to us. You can hire dedicated offshore developers with us across many technologies.

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