Tips for a Junior Front End Developer
Life as a front end developer will never be simple. By definition, the job balances technology and performance with website interior design. It means doing more than a little of everything. Keeping up with trends while developing a standout style. And at the beginning, it usually means piecing together a competitive portfolio out of lackluster junior front end developer jobs. It’s tricky work, but it’s worth it.
Whether you’re a junior front end developer or a seasoned programmer looking to sharpen your skills, there is always something you can do to improve. These seven tips are tried-and-true methods for keeping your talents competitive - at any stage in your career.
1. Never Stop Honing Your Design Skills
Don’t underestimate the importance of thinking like a designer. As you translate design to code, there will always be times when you’ll have to make aesthetic decisions. This could be anything from choosing fonts to working on layout, alignment, and interactive features. You’ll also need to find your own mistakes quickly as you recreate site mockups.
Pay close attention to alignment and small details, and communicate openly with your designer. Invest in helpful courses, and stay updated on the latest design and development trends. Not only are these extra steps worth taking for your portfolio, they’re part of what makes front end development worthwhile and fun in the first place.
Here are a few top sources for learning and inspiration as you train your designer’s eye:
2. Maintain a Stellar Front End Developer Resume
Prioritize your portfolio - even if you think your work speaks for itself. As you learn, improve, and challenge yourself, it’s important to document every success. This can help keep you motivated, and it’s essential if you want to stand out to future employers or clients. In particular, keeping clean code samples on hand is a must for job applications. Github and Github Pages are standard for code samples, though you can also host flat files for free on sites like Vercel, Forge, and Netlify.
3. Invest in Great Tools
After working on your own skills and coding style, the next priority is making sure you have the right tools. A great development toolbox will make your work easier and more competitive. However, collecting it takes time, money, and a certain amount of experimentation. More than anything, invest your time into research: find the best plugins and libraries, and comb through reviews to pick out faulty ones. Make sure you’re getting not just the best quality, but also the best option for your needs. You’ll be grateful you didn’t waste money on something that could have hurt your work.
4. Know Exactly What You Don’t Want To Do
“Learn from the best” is great advice - but there is also a lot you can take from the worst in front end development. The world is brimming with developers doing a terrible job. It’s always a good idea to take note when you see bad code or a poorly-developed site. Why doesn’t it work? What would you have done differently? Taking time to look at areas where other developers struggle will keep you sharp and help you come up with unique solutions.
5. Become a Time Management Expert
It’s not just about development. Unfortunately, no matter how long you’ve been coding, you’re never too experienced to pick up bad habits. As a junior front end developer, you’re in the perfect place to set up an efficient process. This could be as simple as finding your peak creative hours each day or cleaning your desk and organizing your files. It can also include finding and using great online task managers. Some of our team’s favorite tools include Asana for project management and team coordination, Toggl for time tracking, and, of course, the ubiquitous Google calendar. Other great services for optimizing your workflow include Clockify, Zoho, and Basecamp. Take the time to find productivity tools that best serve you - the options are truly endless.
If you’re freelancing, time management applies to the jobs you say yes to. Your time is far more precious than the money you might make from taking on meaningless projects. On the flip side, it’s also helpful to think about whether you’re sacrificing quality in the name of speed. The bottom line is that the more intentional you are, the more efficiently you’ll be able to churn out projects you’re proud of, and the more passionate you’ll feel about your work overall.
6. Keep it Simple (Enough)
Stay within your wheelhouse - don’t try to achieve things you’re not ready for. While you should always be growing your skill profile, never make things too complicated too fast. Don’t be tempted to experiment on an important job, or accept one that calls for skills you don’t have yet. The overzealous approach has a way of leading to disaster and disappointed clients. Start by sticking to the designs you’ve been given to work with. This will keep your designer happy and keep your job doable.
7. Give Yourself Time
Everyone has their own style when it comes to getting things done. That being said, there’s a lot to be said for consciously stepping away from a project at certain intervals. You may come back later with a fresh perspective.
After long hours of coding, your eyes and brain need a good rest. Give yourself a few hours, a day, a week if you’re lucky enough to have the time. When you look at it again, you’ll quickly notice errors - and opportunities - that you missed the first time around.
Conclusion: Your Future as a Junior Front End Developer
Becoming a better front end developer is a lifelong voyage. It will never get boring, but that’s the beauty of it. Front end web developer jobs are appearing and growing in scope all the time, and your creative persistence will pay off in ways you might not even imagine yet. The more work you put into your skills and portfolio, the more satisfying the work itself is bound to become.