A Skilled React Developer: What Should They Be Capable of?
React gives you multiple options to create the digital platform you are in demand of. But, to do this, you’ll need at least one skilled specialist – a React developer.
It’s always best to work on projects with people who know how to handle them professionally, hence this article was created to let you choose a React development approach that would lead you to reaching goals in this matter.
Key Points on How to Hire a React Developer and Their Required Skills
In this article, we will reflect upon the reasons behind the growing popularity of the React library. We will cover the following topics:
- The purpose and features of React.js
- React in the Jamstack/Headless approach
- The role, responsibilities and desired skills of a React developer
- How to find a good React developer and the cost of hiring them
- What you should consider while hiring a React developer or outsourcing web development to an external company
What Is So Special About React.js?
React can be used to build even the most advanced and content-rich user interfaces, consisting of small, independent components. The principal intention behind the library was to simplify the whole process, both for the developer and the end user. The library enables developers to build amazing interactive apps with great performance that provide a native-like user experience.
The React framework takes advantage of a very innovative way of rendering web pages, thanks to which the interfaces are exceptionally dynamic. The updates are taking place in real time, and they are visible right away, without any delay. Why is this possible?
Virtual DOM (Document Object Model)
Virtual DOM has the same properties as the real DOM, but it doesn’t directly change the content of the screen. How exactly does it work? The React library uses components that have states. When the state changes, React updates the Virtual DOM, compares it to the version before the state change, and uses well-optimized algorithms to keep things running quickly. This process is called reconciliation.
In short, using the Virtual DOM enables the user interface to independently update only the needed data each time a change occurs, without having to generate the entire page, which is typically more costly and time-consuming. As a comparison, imagine you want to change tiny elements of a house’s design, but you don’t have to build it again from the basement. React is that sort of solution.
Why Use React?
Today’s websites and apps have to be both rich in functions and user-friendly at the same time. The menu buttons, forms, icons, images, voice recognition, and gesture-driven interfaces are just a few of the options you can introduce into your website.
React – in the hands of a skilled developer – allows the creation of web apps with elegant and seamless UI, bridging the gap between the visual attractiveness and efficiency.
Component Structure and One-Way Data Flow
As we have already mentioned, the component structure of React.js, which is its most prominent feature, also makes programming more effective and easier. All the components are isolated – a single change doesn’t imply other alterations.
Also, because of a one-way data flow, the code is stable. Thanks to high loading speed, React-based web apps and websites are not only user-friendly, but SEO-friendly, too.
React Developer Experience
React development is also efficient – thanks to the declarative approach, in many cases the programmer just has to state the desired outcome, without determining the specific steps leading to it. What’s more, the components are reusable, which facilitates the whole programming process. That’s why we can say that React provides great developer experience (DX).
The Future of React
Thanks to this flexibility, versatility, and scalability, React.js is most commonly used for powerful, cross-platform applications containing a lot of data, where rich user experiences and seamless interaction are the key factors.
React.js seems to be a future-proof solution, backed by the engaged community of contributors and based on simple principles that don’t require advanced programming knowledge – front end developers experienced with JS can easily get to grips with this technology.
React and the Jamstack Approach
Before we discuss the role of a React developer in detail (we’ve got many details!), let’s talk a bit more about Jamstack. React is one of the main technologies used in this unique approach to coding.
Static Websites with Dynamic Content
Jamstack doesn’t impose a specific set of frameworks or libraries, but some conceptual principles. At its core, it allows users to enjoy the advantages of static websites, like efficiency and security, while at the same time offering the benefits of full interactivity. You might want to take a look at some of the most interesting Jamstack websites out there.
Static websites are experiencing a renaissance right now, because in fact they ensure better user experience – typical dynamic websites gradually become slower and less responsive due to an overload of scripts and plugins.
In Jamstack, the front end and back end are completely separate. The sites are based on headless CMS. Instead of handling the head (the user-facing bits) in the CMS, it becomes a separate entity with data pulled from multiple sources. This process is known as decoupling.
The Future of Jamstack
To sum up – Jamstack architecture lets create websites that are not only faster, more secure, cheaper, neater, and more scalable, but also provides a fully interactive experience. It is also easier for Jamstack developers to produce a website or a web application, so more and more specialists are learning those skills.
This approach is rising in popularity, which is shown by the data – there were 50% more Jamstack websites in 2021 than in 2020, and 48% of e-commerce and tech companies are planning to use it in the next year.
What Does React Developer do?
Now that we know more about React and Jamstack/headless, let’s take a closer look at the React developers’ duties and skillset.
In short, a front end developer working with React.js is responsible for designing and implementing UI components for web applications, providing clean code that’s also maintainable. As easy as it sounds, it requires expertise in many areas and tools, which we will present later in the article.
React developers usually concentrate on developing Jamstack-based web and mobile apps that are functional, user-friendly and highly responsive. They should be able to predict user interactions and put this insight into practice.
Commitment to the Process
In this context, it’s vital to emphasize that React developers are active not only during the execution phase but rather involved in the whole process – from creating the concept with its long-term development perspective, to the testing stage.
That’s why their skills should be versatile and also comprise a set of soft competences that we will talk about in a moment.
React Developers’ Roles
Even in React development, it is possible to choose various paths. Each one is connected with slightly different scope of work and qualifications, and the emphasis is put on different parts of the process.
Front End React Developers
These are developers involved in creating visual user interfaces. They should be well-aware of UX principles and have a sense of aesthetics. They are responsible for ensuring the compatibility of the interface with various devices and screen sizes.
UI React Developers
The UI developer, in turn, concentrates on mechanics, operability and dependability of the interface. They should also have a deeper understanding of how the back end part works. UI React developers are focused a little bit more on functionality than on the look and feel, but they never forget about providing the right user experience.
Full-Stack React Developers
Finally, a full-stack developer is responsible for the whole project from conception to completion, so it’s partly a project manager or DevOps job. They should have knowledge in both the front end and the back end.
React for Mobile Apps
Learning React Native may be a further step in learning React. Thanks to this technology, code can be written for the creation of cross-platform mobile applications (namely iOS and Android applications). React Native developers are more and more appreciated in the market as the world goes mobile.
Competences of a React Developer
In this part of the article, we will reflect upon different skills of a good React developer – starting with technical fundamentals, through required experience and tools, to the soft skills. Let’s take a look!
The React Framework
A must-have basis for any React developer is of course a solid understanding of the React library itself, including:
- Object models
- The ability to create and maintain components
- Knowledge of useMemo and useCallback and hooks in general
- State management patterns and solutions
- Optimization of application rendering
Knowing HTML and DOM, the developer will quickly learn how to use JSX, which is used in the React ecosystem.
- The scope of knowledge required includes:
- Working with and writing semantic HTML tags and CSS selectors
- Implementing a CSS reset
- Understanding the box model and the flexbox
- And being able to implement responsive web principles, including the proper use of media queries
- Variables and scoping
- Arrays and objects
- Functions and arrow functions
- DOM manipulation and event handlers
- Prototypal inheritance and object creation
General Programming Knowledge
It’s also good to have general knowledge about technology and programming, including:
- Data structures
- Good coding habits (proper naming, testable functions, readable code etc.)
- Design patterns (tried and tested solutions of common problems occurring in software development)
- State management patterns and solutions
- Serverless architecture
A university degree in programming, IT or a related field, or a coding school certificate, can be very helpful here, but it’s not a must, because the right skills are usually learnt in practice.
As we have said, the React developer’s skills are shaped mainly by getting professional and extracurricular experience. Of course, they should have commercial experience in:
- Developing interfaces using React.js
- App optimization and performance
- Back end framework integration
- Server-side rendering
- Integrating headless CMS with Jamstack sites
- And working with project management tools and the Scrum methodology
It’s also beneficial if they have a practical idea about a designer’s, tester’s, project manager’s and DevOps’ duties. This list could go on and on, so we better take a look at the specific tools React developers have to be familiar with.
React Developer Tools
A React developer will use different kinds of tools – directly or indirectly connected with programming – including:
- React tools, like Enzyme, Webpack, Redux, Create React App, and Flux
- Web frameworks, like React Native, AngularJS, Angular2, VueJS, SocketIO, Backbone, KnockoutJS, Svelte, and Bootstrap
- Open-source libraries, like JQuery, MomentJS, html5sql.js, RequireJS, and Lodash
- API tools, such as REST and GraphQL
- Static Site Generators, like Next.js, Gatsby or Hugo
- Performance testing frameworks, such as Mocha
- Databases, such as MySQL, NoSQL, and PostgreSQL
- Code repositories, like GitHub, Bitbucket, and RhodeCode
- JS tools, like Babel, and Yarn
- JS type checkers, like Flow and TypeScript
- Design tools, like Zeplin, InVision, Sketch, and Figma
- Cloud management platforms, like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Apache CloudStack, and Google Cloud Platform
- Software testing tools, like Jest, Karma and Selenium
- Project management tools, such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana, ClickUp, or Zoho Projects
Of course, a good command of English is necessary. On one hand, this is because React developers become more and more location independent and, on the other, because most of the resources needed to expand their knowledge are usually published in English.
React.js Developers: Required Soft Skills
Because the React developer’s work spans the whole app production process, they need teamwork skills and the ability to explain complex matters to non-tech people, because they will inevitably work closely with testers, web designers, product owners and project managers.
They should be also able to translate business needs into technical specifications, read and prepare business documentation, and use graphic designs to create templates. React developers are required to collaborate cross-functionally to develop a product that meets the business project requirements.
The project and time management skills, as well as attention to details, are also a must-have. A React developer should also be eager to learn new technologies and skills, which will be inevitable in their job.
(Almost) Every Project Needs Different Set of Skills
As a conclusion to this part, we’d like to stress out one important thing: our list of skills and competences required of React.js developers shouldn’t be an only and definite guide when assessing a particular developer for a developer project. For example, project may not need a use of Angular JS – our list is made to be a handy, supporitve material.
How to Become a React Developer?
With so many online tutorials and bootcamps available, learning this technology is not an issue nowadays. You don’t even need a degree in programming.
The best place to learn React is the official website. Future React developers might also want to check out the resources presented in the 2022 React JS Developer RoadMap or take a handy course provided by LinkedIn, just to get started.
Learning by Coding
It’s worth emphasizing that even the most comprehensive courses and bootcamps can’t turn a complete greenhorn into a skilled React developer. In fact, they are just a starting point. What you might do to gain experience is to engage in private or community projects and learn React in practice. Building a portfolio that you can showcase will help you get your first job as a Junior React Developer at a software house or other type of company.
Where to Find a React Developer?
As the demand for React.js developers grows, you might want to get creative while looking for top-notch tech talent. Among the best places where you can find such developers are online communities like GitHub or Stack Overflow, conferences and hackathons like React Summit, and LinkedIn.
There are also job boards targeted at the IT industry – in Poland there are websites such as Just Join IT, BulldogJob, No Fluff Jobs or Rocket Jobs, for example. If you don’t have the resources to search on your own, you may also use the services of a specialized IT recruitment agency.
The Cost of a React Developer
You are probably interested in how much it costs to hire a React developer. Well, as in every other job, it depends on a number of factors, such as years and type of experience, actual skills, certifications and – last but not least – geographic location. One thing is for sure: React developers are among the best-paid JS developers.
In the USA
According to talent.com, in the USA alone the average annual salary amounts to nearly $120,000, and generally the remuneration varies between about $100,000 and $150,000. This puts the average hourly rate at between $65 and $90.
According to zarobki.it, a senior React developer working for an employer can earn between $38,000 and $54,000 a year, while a regular one can earn between $30,000 and $43,000.
As a web development agency with over 10 years of experience, we employ a team of great developers (these specialized in React, too) that are keen on supporting your projects in best possible way. We’re ready to outsource them to you, and the average rate is around $60 – $85.
We’re also fully prepared to go with a complete team you’d need (consisting additionaly of project manager, QA specialist, UX designer or any other role).
Cooperation with React developers
Once you decide that React is the right technology for your website or web app, you should consider if you want to hire freelancers, full-time employees or maybe outsource the whole project to a specialized software house. All thEse approaches have their pros and cons.
Hiring React Freelancers
Hiring freelancers may be a good choice when you are limited by budget and want to at least produce an MVP or you’re a budding startup, but remember that such a dispersed team is difficult to manage and control, and things may get rough - especially when you are under the pressure of time.
Creating an In-House Team of React Developers
If your project is financially stable and potentially long-term, and you need to have permanent in-house support for its development, opt for a full-time team – but remember that this approach is the most time-consuming and costly of all.
Cooperating with a React.js Development Company
A good choice may be hiring a software house with a dedicated team already on board – it’s a solution more costly than relying on freelancers, but you get not only access to developers, but also project managers, testers, and designers, and you are free from all the formalities and duties related with building a functioning in-house team.
Whichever approach you choose, you should prepare for the cooperation. As with most IT projects, the crucial part is to formulate the business ideas in the most specific and detailed way possible, so it can be later translated into a working technological solution.
The communication between the business and the tech is as important as the programming part itself. If you set any goals, they should be measurable and achievable in a given period.
At Naturaily, we perform complex projects using our experienced internal teams of developers and other experts. We lead our partners through every stage of product development – from the consulting and composing an MVP, through the design and development, to scaling and support. If you want to know more about our approach to React development and get a free cost estimate, let’s get in touch.