21 Nov

5 Must-Have Skills for Front-End and Back-End Web Developers

Posted by John Brandwagt

Web developers, whether they are dealing with front-end or back-end development, have a plethora of platforms and programming languages at their disposal in 2018. Even veterans can become overwhelmed with the amount of tools available for website and app design. Imagine how daunting web development must seem for those aspiring to the career, especially those who are looking to train themselves outside of an academic program! And there’s no better time to train, seeing as web developer is still one of the most in-demand IT jobs in Canada.


An easy way to pinpoint what skills are crucial for web developers is to deal with each type of development in isolation. Front-end developers need to know any and all coding languages pertaining to the layout of a site, including how links, drop-down menus, tabs, and so on will appear and affect user experience. Back-end developers ensure that all those functional parts of a website are working properly so that users can interface well with the site. This means they need to know any and all server-side languages, which handle the server-side scripting, which is essentially how website functionality is achieved.

With all this in mind, here are five must-have skills for both kinds of web development.


HTML is important for front-end development because it’s what assembles all the parts and pieces of a website. Without HTML tags, a website would not know how to designate where and how the content of a website will be displayed. Together with CSS (cascading style sheets), which describe the website’s aesthetic style, web developers can build a basic client-side site.

2. JavaScript

JavaScript is another tool front-end developers must have, but it is used in back-end development as well. JavaScript is a server-side programming language, and it handles the interactive aspects of site design. Those fancy drop-down menu bars, action boxes, and nearly any SFX you can think of? All made possible with JavaScript. 

But this programming language can also be used to develop dynamic web apps and user interfaces with frameworks like AngularJS and ReactJS. Angular is a framework developed by Google in 2010 for front-end apps. Angular works together with an HTML page that has custom tags embedded in the coding that act as directives for how the framework should construct the app’s model, which is represented with JavaScript variables. React is an open source JavaScript library developed by Facebook. Its framework operates similarly to Angular, however it relies on custom HTML tags. 

Both of these frameworks are worth becoming familiar with, especially since with the release of Angular2, there have been discussions about which of the two frameworks is more efficient.

3. Ruby

Ruby is one server-side language that is focused on object-oriented programming and has a framework for web apps called Ruby on Rails. Some of the features Ruby can be used to code for are business logic, data calculation, and server distribution. Ruby’s a great programming language for beginner web developers as well, because its syntax is easy to read. It’s also a good language to know for enterprise content management, which companies need more and more these days.

4. SQL

A lot (if not all) of the work that back-end developers do will involve managing databases. SQL is a database query language that allows developers to interact with databases. No matter what framework you are using to build web apps, you most likely be using SQL to make your app designs functional.

5. Good Communication Skills

Lastly, this may seem counter to all the technical skills covered in this article, but web developers will often need to be in constant communication with their clients. As such, it is imperative that you have stellar communication skills so that iterations of whatever sites or apps you are working on meet the expectations and feedback of your clients.

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Topics: IT Skills

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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