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I am trying to become a front end web developer. Initially i thought i'd be just web designer. But i also wanted to do animation myself, so i learned javascript thoroughly and css3. While i was at it i also learned jquery as well. I have expert level skills in javascript, jquery, css3, and html. However, i realized that my design skills are actually very bad.

I tried to improve them but it just won't work out, So i changed my focus from design to all development..my design skills have improved but not at the level. Being developer i learned lots of things that as a designer i'd have paid no attention to or not enough. For example, Pixel density, media queries, touch states, svg/canvas/css3 performance, site structure, seo, and stuff like inventing new form of scrolling.

So far i know html, css, js/jquery, less, seo, copywriting, responsive site, mobile design.

I think i need to know more such as angularjs (will take 3 months), jq ui, bootstrap, yeomanjs, git, underscorejs, understand wordpress, and finally linux as well.

But are these too many or just the right mixture? What are essential skills i need to excel at and that i can put in my portfolio that will result in better business for me?

If i go by job descriptions they would have me believing that i need to be pro at front end, back end, 3 cms, 2 frameworks, and master of additional 3 contradicting libraries ( if you are using jquery then you won't be using YUI)..

I am very new so i need some perspective.

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Front end development, and web development, is a very general thing. Ideally you will find the part you like most and you rock most. We cannot tell you where you are best at, that is what you have to figure out by working on web projects.

At the beginning, as more things you can do, the more work you will get. I would go for hot things such as adaptive websites (mobile-optimized) or some cooler technology I am not aware of. The hotter technology you know and the less competition will be, and you will get more work.

For example, in my area of expertise (embedded devices), new gears like Google Glass or Google Gear or other smart watches and smart TVs, are the hot things. I invested my time and gave my clients very low rates to learn such things, and now I know that clients will seek me cause I know hot techy and I have portfolio of that hot techy.

So do some research and find what 5 hottest things in the web development. Learn at least 2 of such things and seek for work. Of course, doing hotties, clients will probably ask for traditional things, which you know as well, so that will be a plus. You will see how easier is to get a job with the knowledge of hot technology then being another fish in the sea of css/js/jq/xyz front end developers.

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In my world, I don't think I've ever come across a "front-end developer". Front-end is synonymous with design and Developer is synonymous with back-end. There are front-end designers, and then back-end developers. However, "Front-End Developer" sounds odd to me the same way "Back-End Designer" sounds odd.

HTML, CSS, jQuery, javascript are all indeed front-end, but most often fall into the "Designer" bucket of work. If the designer is not capable of these, then the back-end developer tends to take them on, in addition to PHP, ASP, .NET, e-commerce etc.

Front end is all about look and feel. It would sound as though you want to work on the front end, but not concern yourself with look and feel. I, personally, don't see how you could get ahead with the model. If you accurately are self-aware enough to know you don't posses the skills necessary to design a functional, fluid, good-looking, front end then I don't know anyone who would hire you to simply code HTML, CSS, and javascript/jquery. You would be a middle-man between the designer and developer and, honestly, superfluous in most cases.

Most clients I work with want design and front-end code (HTML/CSS) then development back-end (Databased, e-commerce, etc). If the front-end designer is incapable of coding out the HTML/CSS then that aspect falls onto the back-end developer. There aren't really positions for anywhere in between. Why would a client pay a third party to compelte part of the work the other two can most likely accomplish?

The reason you see job postings with so much emphasis on other languages or markups is that if you are a "Developer" you're expected to know the back-end. If you have experience as a developer, you'll be aware of many of the requirements. If the posting is for a "Designer" then you're expected to have a creative, aesthetic, eye with less concern on code, including HTML and CSS and certainly javascript.

Where you might find some work is the "PSD to HTML" sect. Taking the images from those that can't code a front-end and coding it for them. This would negate the need to have any aesthetic ability or sever-side scripting knowledge. There are several places who do this already so you'd be competing with them and most projects would be one-off projects. Whenever I've done this for clients, there generally isn't any return business and web sites are essentially small, brochure-style, sites. You may be able to gain some financial return doing this, but you would need to be diligent about always seeking new clients. Brochure-style sites aren't updated with much regularity and simply don't generate a great deal of return business in my experience.

  • This might change in future though. Most sites do work like presentation of all that's happening in the backend. But with single page sites that are more like apps client side logic is becoming deep and this is where angularjs and similar stuff comes in. There is no way a back end developer can be good at back end and also master stuff like animation, responsive design, MCV frameworks, html5 apis client side apis..However i take your point that if i am doing front end then i can't be just front end developer for now. – Muhammad Umer May 20 '14 at 19:11
  • Single page sites are created by designers, design studios, and agencies. I have yet to see a one single-page web site which was not for a designer or design firm itself. Other businesses, in general, don't use single page designs. – Scott May 20 '14 at 19:18
  • Can someone who is just a Graphic Designer with some css skills or back end developer with some javascript skills...can make a site that all ajax based, utilizes html5 apis such as speech to text, touch api, offline, history, websockets, webrtc apis...If sites need to be fast then ajax is the way to go. However, you are right in saying that you haven't seen it..because i also think most business don't need cutting edge with all html apis in them. Normal, easy to maintain, and small website is what most businesses need. – Muhammad Umer May 22 '14 at 18:35
  • In fact, i can't even justify the need of whole website for small businesses they are better off with facebook page only. – Muhammad Umer May 22 '14 at 18:35
  • I like your answer as it does represent reality of now plus at least five years very clearly. – Muhammad Umer May 29 '14 at 3:29
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You have not listed php I guess. Php is the most usable language for all front end web developers. You should definitely learn that with these languages.

  • isn't php back end – Muhammad Umer May 30 '14 at 21:48
  • I think that even if you are front end web developer you should be able to write code in PHP. I think that this is good for your future. but everyone thinks in a different way. May be some people will not agree with me. – user3016 May 31 '14 at 7:05
  • i guess it comes down to how good you are in graphic design..if you are average you really should be able to get some php. – Muhammad Umer May 31 '14 at 17:55
  • Hi there, welcome to Freelancing.SE! Can you edit your answer to include more information? We are still in Beta, and need long, well-drawn out and detailed answers in order to survive. Short one-liners may be deleted if they do not meet the quality standards in the help center area. Thanks – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Jun 1 '14 at 4:56

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