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Top 10 Junior Front End Developer Skills You Should Know

According to Indeed, within the US junior frontend developers salaries are around 61K to start. The market is in dire need of talented developers and posting jobs left and right to find skilled teammates. Those looking to break into the career of coding would serve themselves well by looking at entry level front-end developers (note: entry-level and junior front-end developers are often listed as the same type of job). In this article, we will be reviewing the 10 skills every junior developer should know and by the end, if you are looking to break into this field you will have a strong building block to launch from. Let’s get to it.

Top 10 Junior Front End Developer Skills You Should Know

1. Junior Developers Should Know How To Work With Content Management Systems and E-commerce Platforms

At this point, almost every website worth your time ie. will hire you for work is built on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. If you’re looking for paid opportunities your best bet would be to take this a step further and look at e-commerce platforms. These websites are revenue generators which means in theory if they are doing well they can afford to hire you.

The trick with e-commerce platforms and CMSs like Drupal, Magento, Joomla, WordPress is understanding the framework isn’t a static site. These are sites designed to evolve consistently. Think of them like cars, the more you use them, the more maintenance they need. This is normal.

The top junior front end developers understand that when it comes to working with a content management system and e-commerce platforms there is a future plan in place to help the site evolve as easily as possible.

2. Git and Version Control Systems

It’s scary writing this, but most website do not have backups. Most sites don’t even bother with version control and Git. They just exist on the web and if and when the big hit comes they take it.

Let’s rewind. Version control systems like Git make your life easier. They keep track of code changes over time and are an easy to understand system for freelancers, small teams and large corporations.  The major perk – if you push a code live that has a bug, you can quickly and easily revert to an older version without causing a huge mess.

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Git is the most popular version control for developers so you should know it. Especially if you are thinking of becoming a freelance junior web developer. Freelancers who understand how to work with Git offer their clients that added layer of trust and security knowing that when they work the original site code will be protected.

3. Front-end Debugging Tools

One of the scariest moments for any developer is when their phone blows up and on the other end, there is an angry client. No matter what stage of the game you are in – this will eventually happen. Something will go wrong to some degree. There is no way around, we are all human and mistakes happen.

When the horror comes, how you react and what you do can literally determine your future with that client. What we recommend doing before any push live is having a solid testing and debugging stage. An environment where you can share it with your client and team and they can poke around the updated site to see what needs tweaking before going public.

An added bonus tip for developers looking to really impress their clients – understand no site is ever really done. Changes come all the time. But how you collect those support tickets and changes is key. We strongly recommend using The Bug Squasher – this works on any framework and allows clients to video record, screenshot and more requests with just a click. From there a bug report is created telling you what URL they were on, console errors and more. You can even add the tool to live websites and whitelist IP addresses so only the people you want to see the issue tracking tool do.

4. Master The Basics Of HTML & CSS

Having a strong foundation is vital to every good developer. Never stop learning. Never stop reading. Never stop looking for ways to improve. Stay a student of your industry and those around you will forever respect you and want to work with you.

When it comes to HTML and CSS these are the foundation elements to being a great junior developer. You can easily find online courses online if you Google HTML and CSS classes. Personally, we think the best form of education would be to join Facebook groups and/or developer forms where you can ask your peers’ questions. The added bonus here you will be networking and perhaps might meet someone who will send work your way at some point.

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5. Test Your Skills In A Hackathon

Do you have the coding chops that you think would stop the Zuckerbergs of the world? Or are you looking for a fun way to spend an evening and learn some new skills? Whatever the case may be hackathons are an awesome arena for junior developers to get noticed.

There are countless developers who have gotten noticed at hackathons and as a result, landed a job offer. Others who go learn skills and tricks from their peers. You really can’t go wrong here and if you are interested in being a junior developer you need to get your hands a bit dirty and try these out.

If you’re looking for hackathons try searching or AngelHack.

6. Introduce Automation To Your Projects

The future is now. If you can automate it do it. Stop spending time on tasks that drag you time and prevent you from doing big picture moves. There are so many tasks junior developers think they need to do but really don’t.

A great example of this time suck comes in the form of image optimization. Some many programmers lose countless hours optimizing images however there are programs like gulp and Grunt that can you with CSS and JS minifying.

Your role as a junior front-end developer is to be efficient. This does not mean you should not know how to do these tasks. You should, but also realize your time is valuable and you could be doing something more effective with it.

7. Dive Into The Different Work Methodologies Like Scrum

Did you know there is an Agile Manifesto – click here to view it. It’s kind of cool – it talks about a mission of sorts developers are on the hunt for. For those not sure what type of process they should be working within, this is a launching point. Read it, it takes like three minutes to digest. It assumes that through cross-functional teams and organization solutions and requirements will evolve. Or in human terms, it’s an organized workflow.

It’s also worth knowing because most IT projects you work on will be referencing rules from popular agile frameworks like Scrum. In order to be effective on projects that do this, you should at the very least be familiar with the overarching rules.

8. Responsive & Mobile-First Design Skills

I hate putting this on the list. Websites should be responsive and mobile friendly. This feels like a given. The problem is, there are so many websites out there that aren’t mobile-friendly or responsive. As a result, every junior front end developer must remind themselves this point matters.

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If you built a website and it doesn’t load properly on an iPhone there is a problem. The stats are all over the web, mobile is a huge factor in conversions. Make sure you stay on top of this, you’re sure to find work from sites needing some care in this arena.

9. Digital Marketing High-level Overview

It is now expected for junior developers to have a basic understanding of digital marketing. The main area we recommend looking at is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You don’t need to be a master in this topic, but you should be able to clearly speak to your client(s) on topics about SEO.

Building a website without knowing SEO or putting any thought into it will set the company back years and thousands of dollars. Developers who can offer some SEO skills to their clients when coding are a huge asset to the team.

Keep in mind, if you ignore this and down the road, your client hires an SEO team they will point out flaws in your code. This will make you look bad. Don’t put yourself through any of that and understand the basics of SEO as it will help you as a junior developer.

10. Leverage The Command Line

Most developers understand what a command line is. They use it to do simple tasks and it gets the job done for them. As your career evolves in the coding realm, you’ll realize there are so many command lines out there that you probably aren’t using. If you want to improve your workflow we recommend spending some time on

Honestly speaking, I realized that I was unable to use the command line at all. What I had known was so limited compared to the full scope of command line. I believe it will definitely help your workflow.

Final Thoughts…

The good news for those looking for a career as a junior developer now is the time to do so. There are so many openings and a huge need for talent like never before. The bad news (which really isn’t that bad) it’ll take work. If you put in the time though, being a junior frontend developer will be one of the most rewarding careers you can imagine – go get them, guys!

– The Bug Squasher Team

P.S. If you’re looking for a tool to bridge the gap between you, your developers, and clients check out The Bug Squasher.

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