Frontend Development in 2020: A Guide on What to Learn

. 6 min read

2019 is coming to an end and 2020 is fast approaching. As with any retrospective, it behoves us to be foresighted. This is especially true in the case of Frontend Development. With new frameworks and constant API development, it is vital to track changes as they happen to stave off obsolescence.

Thus the definition of a Frontend Developer is constantly changing. In comparison to the traditional coding roles of before, Frontend Developers now are contributing significantly more in other allied areas: UI/UX and usability research, being big examples.

Critical aspects of Frontend Development to embrace

To be sure, most of the points below are not new to 2020, or even 2019 for that matter. However, the emphasis on usability has increased much in the last few years, and that trend showing no sign of slowing down.

1. Intuitive and Responsive interfaces

We are in the mobile-first era where smartphones are heralded as the prime source of information for almost everything. In fact, 4.7 billion people today are using mobile phones on a regular basis. However, so many websites are not optimised correctly enough to fit a variety of screen sizes and applications, be it desktops or tablets, and event smartphone browsers.

Even today, many developers shrink desktop versions of websites to fit mobile screens. However, mobile-centric projects should be made from scratch, depending upon the ease of tapping, navigating, and other experiences specific to mobile devices. For instance, many feel that one of the most mobile experiences is how horizontal and vertical scrolling is handled. Ideally, it should be easy to execute and smooth to use.

Responsive development needs to be thought of differently than it has till now. It is not limited to design, but flows organically into Frontend Development. Examples of good user experiences are as follows:

  • Glitch-free navigation across the website
  • Email signup forms which do not hinder the site's flow
  • Interactive and intuitive user interfaces
  • Engaging and quality visuals
  • Clear and visible call-to-action buttons

To develop a user-centric product, developers must highlight usability and a clear interface. In fact, 79% of shoppers choose not to return to a website with a slow and subpar interface.

2. User-oriented Frontend Development

Customer orientation is the way to go for every industry and website development is no exception. A company’s website is a cornerstone in their brand recognition and therefore it is important for businesses to have an engaging site which will influence customers positively with great user experience. In order to develop products that are user-oriented, developers need to ask the following questions when planning their way forward:

  • How are the business goals aligned with respect to the trends in the market?
  • What are the issues the company is addressing with respect to the target market?
  • What is the customer psychology?
  • What are the existing challenges in terms of usability and design?

Customer analysis is an important part of answering these questions. Today, Frontend Developers need to understand the mindset of the customers and project management methodology to progress as a team.

3. Emphasis on functionality and usability

Did you know most users scan web pages, similar to an 'F' pattern? Frontend developers can then consider this trend and divide critical aspects of their product into the indicated four parts for maximum visibility.

Here are some considerations that go into making a great product:

  • Primary focus: Putting in a strong value proposition in the top left of the quadrant is what will attract and hold user interest.
  • Follow area: The top right quadrant is a section where readers will mostly scan through the content without absorbing too much. This is a good place to put extra information which is relevant but not critical.
  • Weak follow area: The bottom right does not much attention. This is a good place to put in white space for airy design, for example.
  • The Call-to-Action area or the terminal area: On reaching this point, typically readers will be attentive again. Use this space judiciously to make a strong statement and final case for your business, which will convince a user to take the next step.

Even though the points are not new, there are still pockets of developers who may feel it is outside their area of expertise and influence. This isn’t at all the case. Instead of limiting the role, the focus should now be to embrace other aspects to create a better result.

Tech to to learn to ace Frontend Development in 2020

1.  HTML

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is one of the foundations of web coding: and oldie but a goodie! It is important for web designing as it helps format plain text on the screen. In fact, without HTML, it is impossible to even add a simple image!

2. REACT JS

React was created by Facebook to support UI components which make an integral part of the Frontend Development. It is an open-source, and flexible JavaScript library used for building interfaces. It designs layers of the application and allows data modulation on it without resorting to changes in the backend. Its flexibility makes it simple for the developer to debug backend code.

3.  CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a language deployed for changing appearances and layout of the webpage. It can be considered as the styling element which highlights how a website's view should change across screens like mobiles, desktops and tablets. Though it does not have the extensive programming background of JavaScript, it is an important part of developing a website.

4. REDUX

Inspired from Facebook's functional programing language Elm and Flux, Redux is a popular library that acts as a store container for JavaScript apps. It is often deployed for application state management which, in simple terms, means it maintains applications in a stable state. It is great to predict the outcome of the application's action, enables good organisation, and ensures the code is easy to maintain, among other advantages.

5.  BOOTSTRAP

Bootstrap is a free and open-source framework, created to better develop responsive, mobile-first websites. It has CSS and JavaScript templates for a variety of design elements, chiefly typography and form components.

6. GIT EXTENSIONS

Graphical user interfaces, which give developers Git access via Windows. It is particularly helpful for structured work, with clear context menus for files and directories.

7. JAVASCRIPT

HTML helps you lay the building blocks of your website and JavaScript allows you to add crucial functionality. JS is deployed by Frontend Developers to create as well as control different dynamic elements of a website, like maps that are updated in real time, online games, and interactive films.

How it will other tech advances affect Frontend Development?

Technology doesn’t operate in silos, and so other, seemingly unrelated, advances will impact Frontend Development too. There will be increased pressure on development to raise the quality bar and be robust as well as flexible enough to support changes.

Let’s take a hot new technology as an example: Machine learning. Websites and applications are integrated with artificial intelligence, which in turn are no longer limited to code. Machine learning is enabling systems and websites to synthesize information and help create a better user experience and engagement model in the moment.

For instance, if a user performs a certain action on the website, machine learning can flag that action, and understand that the experience has to change. The recognition will take place in the backend, but the frontend needs to be tweaked accordingly and in real-time for real impact.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is that Frontend Developers have to keep their technology game strong, and track new trends in their space. New application libraries, frameworks and even languages come into the market every day, presenting bewilderingly broad opportunities. A good course is a great place to start.

Have something to add to this conversation? Let us know in the comments!



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