Frontend Web Development
Web apps work by sending code from a central server to be run by your browser. Backend web development is writing the code that runs on the server, and frontend web development is writing the code that gets sent over the internet to be run by the client, the web browser.
Learning frontend development is a combination of learning the infrastructure that makes the internet work and learning how to write software on top of that infrastructure.
When the world wide web first started, web pages were just plain text. Take a look: this is the first website ever, written in 1991. Websites are written in HTML, a markup language that lets you annotate (mark up) text to denote extra formatting like headings and links.
A webpage back then was just a newspaper-like document. As it evolved, the web gained new functionality, such as the ability to embed images and style the documents using CSS. With CSS, now you could change your background colors and fonts to give it a custom design, but webpages still couldn’t do anything.
Making websites requires learning to lay out pages in HTML & CSS and learning enough web design to make them pretty and usable. Beyond that, you must learn a host of secondary skills such as how to make your site accessible to disabled people, how to show up in search engine results, and how to put your site on the internet and optimize it to load quickly. You’ll also need to learn how the internet itself works, such as how HTTP requests work and how to set up browser caching.
Frontend Web Development is one of the most popular types of software development. It isn’t for everyone, and it is such a broad topic that it is hard to be an expert in everything. The sheer complexity of modern tooling puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths.
Still, given the popularity of web apps, even if you don’t opt to become an expert frontend developer and get a job working with the popular frontend web framework de jour, knowing the fundamentals is unavoidable. Plus, it’s fun!
My favorite resource for taking a broad look at frontend web development is the Front-End Developer Handbook.