Junior Front-end Developer: What Is Expected Of Them

The web and app development world is ever-evolving from a design and functionality standpoint. Generational changes require a substantial development backbone to realize and optimize them. Junior front-end developers then, are first in the line of communication at your company to ensure all requirements are met and developed well.

As the development world slowly shifts to full-stack development, many companies would wrongly assume that junior front-end developer jobs are far and few, and perhaps the shift to hiring full-stack developers makes more sense. Today’s article hopes to disprove this notion by highlighting the importance of front-end work.

By the end of this post, you will know exactly why junior front-end developers should be the first people on your HR’s hiring agenda, and everything you should look into when onboarding one.

Who Is A Junior Front-End Developer?

Junior Frontend Developer Skills

Junior positions at any hierarchical level are essentially entry-level jobs in most companies. Likewise, a junior front-end developer is an entry-level developer that is tasked with the client-side development of web applications.

Front-end or client-side development refers to the general UX and UI designs, tweaks, and optimization of user-operable features. It includes the design and layout of web development of websites and web applications.

The website’s format, layout, and interactive and animated elements all make up parts of the overall structure that are entrusted to junior front-end developers.

Some of the elements will include texts, fonts, images, colors, sliders, and other appearance or aesthetic choices in overall web design. Naturally, it seems that junior front-end developers perform two important job roles in one seat. They are constructors of design choices and are skilled in programming their designs to function.

But since junior front-end developers are entry-level positions, reserved for most fresh computer science graduates and new coders, they are usually paired with senior developers to help them navigate through trickier designs and programming requirements. Some may even be hired to shadow experienced developers to help sharpen their technical knowledge and expertise.

It is perhaps why most companies forego junior development positions entirely when looking for fully functional, and most importantly, smaller development teams. Adding another crop of young and relatively inexperienced (non-full-stack) individuals can seem like an unnecessary hit on the company’s payroll.

However, not all junior front-end developers are inexperienced or unnecessary. Here are a few reasons that may convince you that they make for decent investments in the long run:

A. Junior Developers Help Lessen Loads

Similar to how reserve teams work in sports, having a few individuals on your development team’s “reserve squad” can help lessen the workload on senior employees. And much like sports, tasks can be rotated amongst senior and junior teams to help minimize project delays and streamline work processes.

B. Junior Developers Are Senior Developers In-Waiting

Every senior developer once started as a junior developer. Learning the trade of the business, gaining corporate insight, and polishing design and development skills take time. Giving young blood a headstart in the industry and mentoring them properly can help pay dividends in the future when these developers evolve to newer and more senior roles.

C. Hiring Junior Developers Helps The Industry

According to Stack Overflow’s study in 2022, around 40% of web developers today are between 25-34 years old. In another 10-15 years, this crop may not be sufficiently replaced, especially since only 23% of current developers are between 18-24 years old. Helping onboard more junior developers can replenish employment cycles in the future.

6 Major Responsibilities Of A Junior Front-end Developer

All things considered, junior front-end developers are necessary for the sustainability of most companies and the overall software development industry.

Aloa understands this better than most companies and has a robust team of part-time and full-time junior and senior front-end developers ready to work on projects at a moment’s notice. Our carefully vetted process ensures that you can hire web developers from all over the world with the necessary skills to bring your projects to reality.

Understanding the specific roles and responsibilities of junior front-end software engineers is important for companies before they pull the trigger. Here are some of the crucial ones to know:

1. Optimizing User Experience

User experience

User experience or UX is the overall experience of the customer or end-user on digital and online platforms. These include applications, websites, and other software. User experience is a crucial element of front-end development and requires the software developer to ensure all interactive parts of the product are fine-tuned for the consumer.

It doesn’t just include the design and layout of the app or website, but the overall functionality and intuitiveness of the design as a complete product. A junior front-end developer ensures that all parts on the client side work as intended and are easy to operate and navigate.

2. Bringing Concepts To Life

Front-end developers perform double duty as web designers too and while your startup may have dedicated designers making all the creative decisions, your front-end developers are the initial project managers that give the go-ahead to them.

It is because designers may build a complex network of animations and flourishes on a simple eCommerce website, which at the end of the day, may look impressive and out-of-the-box, but can hurt user experience and make development a nightmare. Front-end developers approve of what’s doable at the back end and what isn’t.

3. Implementation Of Mobile Design

Implementation Of Mobile Design

Developing for the web and mobile are two completely different methodologies and require separate approaches. While responsive web design has made development for both platforms remarkably easier, certain aspects such as mobile apps need different methods of development.

Junior front-end developers help translate an existing web design to look and function on mobile platforms. And when cross-platform development is required, these developers can ensure both versions look and behave as cohesively as possible to one another.

4. Managing Software Workflow

Working in an Agile team requires all members to pull their weight and evenly distribute tasks according to predefined sprints. Senior front-end developers can find they have a lot on their plate when smaller tasks are required of them too.

Junior-level developers can effectively ease that burden while keeping to the Agile structure. Smaller development tasks can be offloaded to them making the overall development workflow easier and simpler for everyone else at the company.

5. Following SEO Practices

SEO or Search Engine Optimization doesn’t just take content and keywords into account, but website and application functionality and responsiveness too. Without proper implementation of design and development rules, all efforts to help your client’s project rank higher on search engines may fail.

Front-end developers are responsible for ensuring all SEO guidelines are followed and that their implementations in design don’t bog down the back end, or have heavy elements that take too long to load.

6. Software Testing

Problem-solving experience doesn’t just apply to developers when they’re building their product but comes into sharp focus once all major front-end development work is done.

Developers need to ensure that their projects are free from bugs and errors during and after the coding process. It helps minimize the amount of troubleshooting that is required after the fact.

Since the responsibilities of a junior front-end developer have been crystal clear, let’s further progress into the topic by knowing the key differences between a junior front-end developer and a senior front-end developer.

5 Key Differences Between A Junior Front-end Developer And A Senior Developer

Difference between senior and junior frontend developer

The previously-mentioned responsibilities in front-end developers aren’t exclusive to junior-level executives only. Senior development teams mostly perform similar roles at any company. However, there are a handful of differences between the job descriptions of the two hierarchies that are important to note.

I. Experience Levels

The first highlight of a junior front-end developer will be in the years of experience they have under their belts. Resumes will indicate the experience level of a developer and the skills they have acquired during their professional careers.

While it isn’t a rule set in stone, the general guideline for most junior developers is that they have approximately no prior experience in a company, or about a year and a half’s worth of development expertise. Senior developers have more than eight years of experience in the relative industry.

II. Bug-Fixing Responsibilities

From here on out, a junior developer’s experience will enforce how much responsibility they are entrusted with in most companies. It is true in bug-fixing cases as well.

Most junior developers are only tasked with fixing minor bugs, usually in their code. Senior developers find major bugs and primarily work to make the code as efficient as possible, getting rid of any stray lines that are present.

III. Project Workflow

Traditional Vs Agile Workflow

The workflow in any software development project is governed by Scrum Masters in Scrum and Agile-lead teams, or by project managers in conventional setups.

Junior developers assist in the planning stage of the development where they usually lay down the frameworks and technologies that are required when beginning. Senior developers oversee the entire workflow from start to finish and ensure all deliverables are provided on time.

IV. Familiarity With Codebase

Junior developers have approximate knowledge of the codebase used for developing the front end. It includes the frameworks, tools, and languages required to complete the development.

Senior developers have an expert-level understanding of all the technology required to efficiently code for the front end and ensure their codebase runs smoothly with the back end too.

V. Salaries

Since junior-level developers have limited experience and industry knowledge, their salaries are typically bracketed according to their job titles too. Most junior developers earn anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on their job types and roles.

Senior developers can expect to earn anywhere from $100,000 to $125,000 per year in most companies in the U.S.

Since we have a know-how of the key differences between junior and senior front-end developers, let’s take a further dig into the must-have skills of a junior front-end developer.

5 Must-Have Skills In A Junior Front-end Developer

When hiring a junior developer, knowing what skills you need to put in your job post is important as it can help you identify the best-qualified candidates for the role.

Aloa is a company that ensures all its resources have the necessary skills required to work on multidimensional projects - be it for web or mobile. Our screening process and constant upgradation of skills through boot camps and regular training sessions ensure you hire the best remote teams and in-office front and back-end developers to ensure your project succeeds.

Here are a few key skills you should look for in your front-end developer:

1. Key Languages

Frontend development languages

All developers require programming and development expertise to succeed in their job roles. It can be argued that without the necessary technical knowledge, companies will not hire developers regardless of their experience or educational credentials.

Most companies require the following front-end languages from their developers:

  1. CSS
  2. HTML
  3. HTML5
  4. JavaScript

Other optional but nice-to-have languages include the following:

  1. Vue
  2. Swift
  3. Python
  4. Angular

The first four mandatory languages are necessary to code for web applications and websites. HTML and CSS are responsible for the initial layout and formatting of the software and JavaScript and React.JS can help code some of the more complex parts of the development.

2. DOM Manipulation

A DOM or Document Object Model helps provide a programming interface for documents on the web. It is necessary to help represent the content and structure of any web document, including its styles and HTML sections. Front-end developers manipulate and change the DOM to make tweaks to how content is displayed to the user.

Knowledge of how to manipulate DOM is essential for most companies. Since DOM turns each part of the website into objects and nodes, this change helps developers to interact with the model with languages such as JavaScript or any other object-oriented programming language.

Most web technologies today require DOM manipulation to create web experiences that are unique to the project.

3. Web Design

As mentioned earlier, most junior front-end developers perform double duties as web designers as well. They need to know specific design principles that ensure the end product is aesthetically pleasing for the user and can guarantee a great user experience as well.

Designing for the web is an art form in itself. Having a keen eye for what works is important in any front-end development role and can take many years to learn and perfect. Web design also requires developers to be familiar with popular tools such as:

  • Weebly
  • Bluefish
  • Illustrator
  • WordPress
  • Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Visual Code Studio

4. JSON, Node.js, And MySQL

JSON is derived from JavaScript and is known as JavaScript Object Notation. Its use is primarily in the text-based representation of web data. JSON has been inescapable on the web over the past 15 years and is required for many databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.

Knowledge of this data format is needed to pass information easily between users and your website. JSON is essential for any site where you need to transfer information between your users and the website’s back end.

Similarly, Node.js is used to ensure your users have the best experience possible. It makes it easy for customers to use your website without unnecessary waits and delays. It also ensures that your site is scalable as traffic grows on it. With Node.js front-end developers can minimize delays and process a high quantity of requests.

Finally, MySQL is a system that manages the database structures websites use to organize their data. WordPress, a popular content management system, relies on MySQL databases to store and relay information to users. This includes all posts, articles, and user data on the website.

While several options exist, Oracle’s MySQL is the primary choice for most junior front-end web developers. Most would argue that it is a back-end technology but ensuring the front plays well with the back is one of the most important skills any developer should have.

5. Soft Skills

Whether developers are hired to work from home or are in full-time in-office setups, a few soft skills are essential to have if they are to succeed in most professional environments. Working well with other team members is one aspect of it and can be dictated by efficient communication skills and knowing how to be collaborative in the office.

Another skill to have is knowing how to work within a team setup and with other senior personnel. Having the right attitude, especially in junior roles, can help cement your position in the teams and ensure you get your opportunity to work and shine and projects come your way.

Most importantly, your junior front-end engineers should have great time management skills. These skills ensure that projects are delivered and catered to on time, and deliverables are met. When working in Agile teams, for instance, special emphasis on project deliverables is the most important aspect while maintaining top code and development standards.

Conclusion

Most businesses are hesitant to employ junior developers and their reluctance is understandable. However, as we’ve shown earlier, a junior front-end developer can be an invaluable member of any development team and may even help supplement your existing setup. Most importantly, they form the basis of any future developers that will find their way into the software and IT industry.

But hiring a capable junior resource is easier said than done. With our guide today, we hope that you have all the prerequisites you need to ensure you’re hiring the best personnel for your company.

With Aloa, you can further ensure that you have the best resources available for your web and application development projects. Contact us at resources@aloa.co to begin your front-end developer hiring process today or find out more about our services by visiting the Aloa website.

The views expressed in this post are the writer's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aloa or AloaLabs, LLC.
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