Front End Development Explained
Rohan Maheswaran our Front-End Development consultant discloses all about his market and the trends he has noticed over the past nine months to our social media captain. Not only does he give us an insight into what he thinks Employers are looking for, he also informs us of a few tricks of the trade to get ahead.
So Rohan, can you outline your market for those who want a brief understanding?
Fundamentally, the role of a front end developer is to ensure that the data coming from the back-end gets displayed on your browser. The back-end is the database where for instance your shopping cart list or security details are stored and the front end is the visual part that you as the user interact with. The front end includes such things as the design, images, colours, buttons, typography, animations and content, everything that you can see basically.
A front end developer’s role will generally consist of taking a file which has been created by a designer (or by themselves) indicating how a site will look, and then they will be responsible for figuring out how to build the site so that it will work in a browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox etc. Developers break up the design into components and then build these into a website using code. Once this is completed they will then test the website in various browsers and more frequently mobile browsers too.
What is the current state of the Front End Development market?
The fact is you are always going to need Front End Developers; whether freelancing as a hobby or working full time as your profession, front end developers are always going to be in demand, because the web is ever-growing and more and more websites need to be built each and every day.
From a commercial perspective the market is good and getting even better. The increased demand for mobile and responsive requirements means there is more front end work that needs to be done. However, despite the necessity for front end developers and the numerous individuals working out there, the market is still very much short of experienced and highly proficient candidates.
What are employers looking for? - Professional skill, personal skills etc.
Talent! Many developers try to cover too many bases, ending up as a jack of all trades. Now whilst being versatile obviously has its benefits, finding true specialists with the right skill set as well as sufficient experience to back it up is often a tough ask. As a front end developer, if you are capable of producing flawless code, and have solid foundation of commercial experience that is more than likely to be indicated by your pay grade.
There also tends to be this perception that developers are more introverted than most, but I spend most of my day trying to charm them with my knowledge and find most have a lot to offer a company beyond their pure technical ability. Whilst your quality of code is often the most crucial factor in deciding whether you are right for a position or not, as you progress through the ranks there tends to be a greater emphasis and requirement on your ability to interact, whether it’s mentoring junior members of staff or pitching new ideas to clients, being able to present your ideas clearly and sometimes in a less technical capacity can be an important factor in determining your success.
Have you noticed any trends within your market?
In such a technology driven market, both companies and developers are always keen to work with the latest technologies. Whilst a lot of people choose to learn and try out new technologies in their own free time, perfecting them is pretty difficult unless you are utilising them practically in your day to day role. Any company who is able to offer something unique technology wise is generally a really attractive proposition.
What changes have you seen in your market?
Salaries have gone up for lower level roles; graduates or junior level developers who are able to progress and expand their knowledge quickly can achieve mid-weight status in a relatively short period of time. Whereas previously the transition may have taken a lot longer, someone with one or two year’s good experience can justify a significant increase in salary.
Any tips for graduates to get into the industry?
There are a lot of different IT related courses out there; you don’t even necessarily have to do a computing course to become a developer. Some of the best candidates do completely unrelated degrees, but it is important to have a good foundation of knowledge which you can use to push off from and that will allow you to reach the higher levels. The most common degree is usually Computer Science. At University this degree will teach both front and back end development and a bit of mobile as well, it is then up to individuals to decide which route they want to follow.
It is important to know when you get your first job that you understand how it will set you up for your future career prospects. Joining an organisation that will offer you a good learning environment and many options to try new things is crucial because your career can stall if you enter a very one dimensional role from the outset.
I think if you are talented graduate with a good degree you should find it easy. Companies are always keen to find enthusiastic individuals who they can mould into superstar developers! Investing in someone who is relatively low cost can prove highly beneficial for the future, so companies will always take the risk.
How would someone’s career develop within your market?
Sometimes things can happen quickly, on other occasions they take lots of time. It is generally dictated by a person’s own drive and ability as well as having a bit of luck! From my experience I would say most people tend to work in a two year cycle, occasionally less. Every two years there would be an expectancy to move upwards, whether that is gaining a more senior role within the team or moving to a new company and trying things out in a different way… sometimes both! Everybody is unique but developers who show that kind of progress in their careers are normally successful. There is always the temptation to jump around to different jobs and increase your salary but it is important not to miss out on key learning opportunities once you’ve settled into a role.
I think for companies looking to take on new developers a great indicator of an individual’s ability is usually their portfolio. If you are able to have a showcase of your work, which shows not only quality but also variety then that makes you an attractive proposition. Portfolios are sometimes considered more important than CVs as they give a real indication as to how all the skills mentioned on the CV are used in action. Plus let’s face it, everyone jazzes up their CV!
What would their career path be to get to the top?
I believe most developers would aim to be the Head of Development, Technical Director or possibly CTO, something along those lines, perhaps even aspire to have their own company! As aforementioned the further you progress within an organisation, the less hands on involvement you tend to have. More seniority usually implies you will be more involved in managing projects and pitching ideas etc. in addition to speaking to lovely recruiters such as me! I think if you’re constantly improving and keeping up to date with the market you should progress naturally and reach an elevated position further along in your career.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into your market?
I think one of the most important things is someone’s willingness to learn. You can be someone who has been developing for years or a relative novice but as it is such a fast paced industry there are always new challenges and technologies to test your ability, so if you are willing to adapt, try new things and work hard you should do well.
Speak to me! Developers are fortunate; there are copious amounts of recruiters out there that are desperate to engage with the best talent. However it is important to work with someone who not only has the best opportunities but also understands what is required for you to be successful in the process. A lot of my candidates as well as clients work with me on an exclusive basis, not just because I am lovable, but because I am able to advise and deliver what it is they are after.
For more information contact Rohan on 0203 301 9916 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or search our database.