Main image of article Front-End Developers in 2022: Skills to Know and Trends to Watch

Front-end developers are in high demand coming into 2022, according to a recent report from Robert Half. 

Front-end developers are involved in the navigation, layout, and design elements of desktop and mobile sites and apps. On a daily basis, they must work with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; they must also communicate with multiple stakeholders, from designers to C-suite executives, which means they must have great “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork.

Moreover, the tools and techniques involved in front-end development are constantly changing, so organizations and technologists must keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest. “When almost every aspect of our life involves digital interaction, it’s no surprise that user interface and front-end developers are so high in demand,” said Mohit Tiwari, co-founder and CEO at Symmetry Systems.

Front-end developers are in such high in demand because businesses know that front ends are the de facto way for consumers/users to interact with products/organizations. “As a result, most of these efforts are marketing-led, and businesses are focusing their efforts on building better digital-first interactions with customers,” Tiwari added. “I recently ran a search for open positions within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco and the search came back with 5,622 results.”

Front-End Developer Skills

On a more granular level, the technical skills needed for front-end work include a deep understanding of the modern front-end ecosystem, experience applying frameworks/tools (React.js, Redux, GraphQL, Webpack and Node.js) as well as production web applications, using event-driven architectures and mechanisms for client-side state management, and defining and building robust APIs with a strong understanding for different protocols (Websockets, GraphQL, REST, RPC frameworks, etc.).

In addition, front-end developers often need experience with database schema design and an understanding of query performance that translates to performant, scalable, and reactive products. Piers Morgan, creative director at Appfire, said necessary skills can be very role-dependent, and each role can require different technology stacks.

“Some developers need to be familiar with online web tools, such as Squarespace and web flow that require less technical development skills,” he explained. “Others may need experience building custom templates for tools such as WordPress and Shopify, and some roles may ask for complete customized applications or websites with React, Angular and database management.”

In 2022 and beyond, more companies could demand that front-end developers have technical know-how of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). With Meta/Facebook claiming that the virtual “metaverse” will change how we all live and work, and companies such as Apple reportedly hard at work on AR glasses, we could soon see a transition from traditional 2D interfaces to immersive 3D experiences. 

“Developing these experiences to work responsively will be key to success in the next year,” Morgan said. “There has also been a significant shift towards a remote workforce across the globe. Being able to effectively communicate and work collaboratively within a remote team will be vital skills going forward.”

Focus on JavaScript, Cloud and Security

George Burns, senior consultant, cloud operations at SPR, said the top skills he sees in the market for front-end developers going into 2022 are primarily JavaScript-based: “As organizations continue to deploy more single-page applications (SPA) and shift data loading from application infrastructure or servers to client-side data loading, that trend will continue.”

Security continues to become increasingly important for everyone on development teams, and that includes front-end developers. “Front-end development tasks will continue to become more data-centric. As applications continue to mature, our data structures will continue to refine themselves, which will create a continual need for updated user interfaces,” Burns added.

Tiwari said that, in 2022, brick-and-mortar organizations will accelerate their cloud migrations, which will bring the need for new user interfaces. Front-end developers can effectively negotiate their compensation demands from a position of strength in a job interview if they do their homework and understand what the company does. 

“I’m amazed at how many people have not taken the time to research the company that will provide their bread and butter,” Tiwari said. “They should have some thoughtful questions ready. This is their opportunity to get insight into the culture, competitive landscape, and so on.”

When asked about their experiences, candidates should share examples that are tangible, concrete, and specific. “If they can do that, then odds are they are aware of their market worth and can articulate it,” Tiwari added. “All these tips will help put them in a position of strength in any negotiation.”

It’s also important for developers to have mastered a wide range of tools and skills, and have examples of previous work to showcase during the interview. “Expanding their skillset even slightly outside of the ‘regular’ requirements for a front-end developer will give even more of an edge,” Morgan said.

Examples of these skills include design, wireframing, UX patterns, A/B testing and back-end technologies. “Front-end developers need to find an area of interest and show that they don’t only care about one specific job role, but you care about the company you’re choosing to work in and understand how the role fits into the bigger picture for that company,” Morgan added.