Front end web developer

Freelance Newbie Podcast Episode 5 (What is a front end web developer?)

Front-end web developer — we’ve heard the term, but what exactly is that?

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According to Wikipedia, “Front-end web development is the practice of converting data to graphical interface for user [sic] to view and interact with data through digital interaction using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.”

That all sounds good on paper, but when you start reading the job descriptions for front-end web developer positions, things start getting a little dubious. The job requirements for one compared to another are often a night-and-day difference.

Many other times, it seems as if the employer isn’t even in the market for a frond end web developer — but rather looking for full-stack devs. For example, one recent senior front end position listed on Indeed  lists these requirements along with nice-to-haves: 


  • HTML5
  • jQuery / jQuery UI / Javascript / ReactJS
  • Web-based UI Design/Development
  • CSS driven layouts
  • AJAX
  • Interfacing against REST Services
  • Familiarity with JetBrains IDEs and Visual Studio
  • OOP principals
  • Microsoft Programming Best Practices

Nice to Have

  • Proficient in Linux
  • WebSockets
  • NodeJs
  • Python
  • C#.NET Programming

While another listing gives these as requirements: 


  • 5+ years of experience
  • Programming Languages: JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and PHP
  • Ability to create well-designed UIs using modern HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
  • Creation and maintenance of WordPress Templates and plugins
  • Experience with testing platforms like Optimizely, Test & Target, Launch Darkly, etc.
  • Familiar with Single Page Applications using React, Vue.js, or AngularJS
  • Familiarity with GA 360 a plus
  • Ability to communicate well cross functionally
  • Self-starter with the ability to identify areas of improvement and go after them
  • Attention to detail and has a high quality of work standards
Front end web developer

Wait…I thought we were talking about what a front-end web developer does. You know, “the practice of converting data to graphical interface for user to view and interact with data through digital interaction using HTML, CSS and JavaScript” just like Wikipedia mentioned?

Yeah…About that.

In a perfect world, front end developers would be encouraged to focus on the true front end of things, not fussing with backend languages like PHP and C# or have intimate knowledge of proprietary testing platforms.

In the first job listing, it also implies that a front end web developer with backend experience get priority. In other words — full stack devs!

So what’s up with this? How can a front end web developer navigate the freelancing world, which is also increasingly demanding full-stack knowledge?

Should front end developers, specifically freelance front end developers, consider ditching learning those deep concepts React Hooks, JavaScript theory and whatever else end instead and go all in with databases, PHP and Node? We’re talking about it in today’s Freelance Newbie podcast! 

Time Stamps

:40 I need to pay a bill

2:12: I need to pay another bill

3:50: What are front end developers?

5:17: Where are the back end devs? 

7:30: What are employers demanding for front-end devs?

10:40: Should code newbies just learn *everything* for better success? 

12:00: What is your “bonus skill?”

12:30: Being marginally better is all you have to do

16:21: People have no idea what developers do & demand ridiculous things

17:20: Biggest problem web developers face

18:25: Freelance vs. Corporate front end development roles

20:00: Client has major problem. Where to start?    

21:40: The dirty D word

22:50: What’s the #1 skill all front end developers MUST have? 

27:10: Web development portfolios: Grab that social proof! 

29:00: Business owners need you NOW!!!!!11

30:50: Where are clients??

32:40 How to be a better problem solver? 

33:50: All basics problems have been solved

36:00: What is at the center of front end development? 

38:50: Humanity vs. UX/UI

42:00 Testing your site, like really testing it

44:07 Front End jobs == the new marketing job? 

49:00 My talk with Netflix

51:40 Those ****** passive/aggressive popups!

52:55: The web is one big emotional thing

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