Being a Front-End Developer

The thing I dread most about old classmates and new acquaintances: explaining what I do for a living. Usually it ends the same way; I generalize my profession as “computer programming” or “I work with computers”. Don’t get it twisted brothers and sisters of the web. I don’t lose sleep thinking about if I should put “developer” or “front-end web developer” on my doctor’s intake forms. I don’t fret over whether my doctor knows the difference either.

So What is a Front-End Developer?

Some folks use web designer, front-end developer, web developer, interaction/interactive developer interchangeably. There are even a few folks that throw user experience in the title somewhere, just to muddy the waters.

We Need an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is the delivery of an idea in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

Is it possible to sum up my chosen profession in thirty seconds? I believe so.

I am a front-end web developer. I am responsible for the parts of web that you can see. I make beautiful, functional, and useful websites and applications. I strive for simple, efficient, and concise quality in the code I write.

But the Devil is in the Details

Most likely I’m “preaching to the converted”. You’re likely a developer or designer of some sort. I know what you’re thinking, so what’s the laundry list of things a front-end developer takes care of?

Presentation

Knowledge of semantic markup is a must. HTML rules everything around me. CSS has come a long way in recent years, the amount of things accomplished with it are amazing. Some folks think being a front-end developer stops right here.

Interaction

Knowledge of javascript is a must as well. In some settings, knowing only a bit of jquery will suffice. The more javascript a front-end developer knows the better.

Accessibility

All front-end developers should be concerned with accessibility. Depending on a site’s user base, a large part could have a disability that makes normal web browsing difficult. Making sure the sites and apps we build are available across the most devices, to the most people, isn’t just good business sense. It’s common sense.

Usability

This goes along with accessibility, keeping tabs on usability should be a priority for us as well. Making sure the site and apps feel good to a end user. Having well thought out feature sets. Keeping the end user’s goals and our (or the client’s) business goals in mind.

Performance

We need to make sure these sites and apps load wicked fast. Making and maintaining performance budgets. Being frugal with http requests and code best practices to ensure load times are minimal.

I could rant on longer, but I want to work on my elevator pitch.