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Essential Skills Your Junior Front-end Developer Needs

essential skills junior front end developers

Did you know that there are approximately 400 million active websites? Companies need websites for many reasons. Some want to increase their digital awareness, capture more leads, or make their product popular. This makes front-end developers be the key piece of this digital puzzle. Yet, it often happens that because it’s difficult to find talented developers, companies want la crème de la crème and seek senior developers with an extensive professional experience. Junior devs are forgotten in the depths of the hiring sea. What companies don’t know is that hiring a junior front-end developer might be one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.

One of the keys to hiring a junior front-end developer is to know the skills you need them to have. This way, you’ll reassure that candidates will perform successfully, instead of only hoping for the best.

Is Hiring a Junior Front-end Developer a Good Idea? 

When building websites, there are many things to take into consideration. Front-end developers have a huge responsibility because they take care of the ‘’face’’ of the website and ensure that users have the best experience possible.

First impressions are incredibly important, and not only in love matters. So, when looking for a front-end developer it’s common that companies seek talented and experienced devs that know exactly what to do. Juniors are inexperienced, and often, companies think they can’t do much. But, junior front-end developers have a lot of things to offer.

Benefits of Hiring a Junior Front-end Developer 

benefits of hiring junior developers

Raw talent: Juniors are often hidden gems. Because companies don’t like the idea of training them, they miss real talent. Many junior developers are incredibly talented and have an impressive learning curve, so mentoring them is highly beneficial not only for them but also for the company. Consider it as an investment!

Innovation and creativity: Juniors bring new ideas to the table. IT teams sometimes get stuck with the same problem, and juniors who are constantly up to date with the latest tools and ideas are likely to bring creative solutions to old problems.

Flexibility: They have a lot of time in their hands. Senior developers often have families to take care of or other commitments that juniors don’t. They are totally fine with working many hours as long as they can keep learning and building their careers.

Passionate: Most juniors are starting their careers; therefore, they are eager to learn and work as much as possible. This leads them to be extremely passionate about what they are doing, and therefore their productivity levels are frequently at their highest peak.

Lower salaries: In terms of money, hiring junior devs is highly beneficial. IT talent tends to be expensive, especially if you live in countries with a higher living cost. Juniors, because they don’t have as much experience, are likely to charge lower salaries, making you save thousands of dollars.

Essential Skills for Junior Front-end Developers

If you want your junior front-end developer to be a total success, your first step is knowing exactly what type of candidate you are looking for. Don’t wait for the best to happen; make the best happen by conducting efficient interviews and headhunting great IT talent. 

These are the top 6 technical skills to look for in every junior front-end developer:

junior front-end developer skills

1. HTML, CSS & JavaScript

This first skill requires developers to be proficient in these three basic coding languages. It’s non-negotiable!

Think of HTML, CSS & JavaScript as the soul and core of websites. Each of them has valuable characteristics for building and maintaining websites. 

HTML

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and you can think of it as the skeleton of a website.

A markup language, briefly explained, means that instead of using a programming language to perform functions, HTML uses tags that identify content and the purpose of each type of content on the website.

Let’s take as an example this blog. In this article, you can see the featured image, the title, the subheadings, and the paragraphs, right? All that is possible because of the HTML tags. 

CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and it’s the stylist of HTML (seriously).

The main characteristic of this language is that it dictates how the HTML elements will appear at the frontend of the page.  HTML creates your page’s foundation, and CSS makes it pretty, with the colors you want, the perfect typography, etc.

Look again at our website. We carefully chose the colors and the typography that goes with our brand. All this is displayed thanks to CSS. Otherwise, it will be a very dull site that no one would ever want to read.

JavaScript 

Before continuing with JavaScript, take a pause here. Imagine that you are a developer who is creating a website; you know HTML; therefore, you can create the foundation. You also know CSS, so the website will be looking good and attractive. But are you missing something?

Nowadays, websites are not only about being attractive to users, but they also need to be functional and make users interact with them. For example, if you are creating a website for your company, it’s because besides increasing your digital presence, you want customers. You want that when someone visits your page, they buy your product or service. Therefore you need to make interactive functions as well! And JavaScript was built with that purpose.

JavaScript is a logic-based programming language used to modify the content on a website and make it behave in different ways in response to a user’s actions. JavaScript helps developers build confirmation boxes, CTA’s, and add interactive features to a website. 

2. Responsive Design

Responsive design is a graphic user interface design approach used to create content for diverse screen sizes. When developers understand responsive design principles, they can implement them on the coding side and build websites suitable for desktops and different types of screens such as mobile and tablet.

Nowadays, most users have smartphones. And they likely browse through the internet with their phones instead of their computer. According to statistics in 2013, mobile users on the internet made up only 16.2%. By 2019, that number increased to 53.3%.

If your website doesn’t have a responsive design, you’ll likely miss the opportunity of bringing in new customers. 

3. JavaScript Frameworks

We’ve already highlighted the importance of junior front-end developers to be proficient in JavaScript. Yet, because JS is one of the core parts of web development, it also means it’s complex. This is why frameworks exist.

JavaScript frameworks are collections of JS code libraries that provide developers with pre-written code for programming tasks and features. This helps them save time. They don’t have to write the code from scratch or build certain features from cero because frameworks already provide them with it.

There are thousands of JS frameworks, and considering that you’re hiring a junior front-end developer, they might not know all of them. But what matters is that at least they understand and use the frameworks needed for the type of website you’re building.

Among the most popular JavaScript frameworks, you’ll find React, Angular, jQuery, and Vue.

4. Testing and Debugging

Testing and debugging is a valuable skill that even junior front end devs should prioritize in having. Bugs are part of a development process, and they can mess things up when they are not detected or treated at the right time. Developers should be able to write and maintain their code by testing it regularly and making sure there are no bugs on the way.

There are different testing methods in web development, such as functional testing that emphasizes a particular piece of functionality on your site, or unit testing that consists of testing the smallest bit of code that is making something fail in your site.

With these methods, and with a developer who knows how to test and debug, you’ll ensure that your future website or the one they are maintaining will be error-free and run effectively. 

expand your team with international talent

5. Web Performance

Web performance refers to the speed of a website. If a website has an optimized and effective web performance, it means that the web pages are downloaded and displayed fast on the user’s web browser.

No one likes websites that are slower than a turtle. It doesn’t matter how beautiful and aesthetic the website is; if it’s slow, most of us look for another one! And this is exactly what you need to avoid when building one for your brand. Keep in mind that your brand is not only the product itself but the story you sell and how you sell it.

Faster websites increase user retention and satisfaction. According to statistics, 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds before leaving a site. Even important brands lose customers when they have slow pages. For instance, BBC loses 10% of users for every extra second it takes for its site to load.

When junior front-end developers have this skill, they can increase a site’s speed and optimize it for better results. Sometimes this is done by minifying CSS and JavaScript; other times, it depends on the type of images you use. There are thousands of reasons why your website is slow, and talented front-end developers can fix these issues.  

6. Version Control System

Version control systems are a category of software tools that help a developer change to source code over time. VCS keeps track of every single modification to the code in a database. For example, if your developer is working on your website and makes a mistake, instead of fainting and going crazy, they can compare the earlier code kept in the database and fix the error easily.

If your developer wants to get creative and make some innovative changes to the website, they can simulate it with VCS and see how it works. Instead of making the change to realize later that it was a huge mistake.

This is undoubtedly one of the most important tools for web development, mainly because websites are no longer what they used to be. Nowadays, they are more complex, and developers have to deal with many aspects of building and maintaining them. Therefore, VSC leaves room for mistakes because it ensures developers get back on the right track.

Looking for a Remote Junior Front-end Developer?

Hiring IT talent goes beyond technical abilities; I mean, it’s important to seek the junior front end developer skills in 2021 (yes, 2020 is coming to an end!). But, besides the technical aspects, personality traits are equally important.

Hiring a talented junior front-end developer, who adapts fast, understands your processes, and has these skills is not impossible. Yet, it requires that you expand your boundaries and look for developers in different parts of the world. This way, not only you’ll have more options, but you might even have access to top talent that otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to get.

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Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina is the writer and editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelancer, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.