Frontend design

Original author: Brad Frost
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Our “Developer JavaScript” course is generally devoted to the front and tools for it, but as it turned out, not everyone has an idea of ​​what lies behind the phrase front-end design. We found some interesting material where the author is trying to explain what is behind this.


Somewhere between design - the world of persons, pixels and polishing - and engineering - the world of logic, cycles and Linux - lies the frontend design. Frontend-design includes working with HTML, CSS, and presentation JavaScript code to create a user interface.

Frontend-designers (who may also be called UI-developers, client-side developers, design engineers, frontend-architects, designers / developers, prototypists, unicorns or Bo Jacksons ) live in a kind of purgatory between worlds:

  • They understand the principles and best practices of UX, but they do not spend time researching, creating flow, and planning scenarios;
  • They have an aesthetic taste, but do not spend time searching for combinations of fonts, comparing color palettes, creating illustrations and icons;
  • They write in JavaScript, but do not spend time writing application-level code, connecting middleware and debugging;
  • They understand the importance of backend-development, but do not spend time writing backend-logic, starting servers, load testing, and so on.

Of course, everyone has different ways. Some do frontend design in addition to their main job. Officially, they can be considered developers (which makes them “full-stuck developers,” as they say now), and they can also be designers (what do we do with their “full-stuck designers,” probably?). Sometimes, especially when companies start to grow, people who are awkwardly stuck in a particular department are involved in frontend design.

About my own experience I tell in the book:
When the last employer found out that I was writing in HTML, CSS, and presentation JavaScript, I was transplanted closer to the engineers and back-end developers. It was not long as I began to ask: "Hey, Brad, how long will gather middleware?" And "Can you normalize the database is faster?"

The essence of what is, in my life I did not have a single a computer science lesson, and the whole school before I graduated, I hung out in the art room. Therefore, such requests put me in a very awkward position.

There is a global misconception that coding is ultra-geek programming, but it is not. HTML is not a programming language. CSS is not a programming language. But, since both HTML and CSS are technically code, frontend development is often put in a basket for Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, C ++ and other programming languages. And this misunderstanding leads to the identity crisis of many frontend-developers, including me.
This attitude to the frontend UI code and “true programming” affects the organizational structure:
In organizational terms, there is often a big gap between designers and developers (or “marketing” and “IT”, or “creative” and “engineering”, or some other dividing labels). Designers and developers often sit on different floors, or in general in different buildings, in different cities, on different continents. This can be partially justified, but such a clear separation of designers and frontend developers is an absolutely awful idea.

The bottom line is that HTML, CSS, and presentational JavaScript are used to create user interfaces, the same ones that designers create using tools like Photoshop or Sketch. In order for the team to successfully create user interface systems, it is very important to consider frontend development as an important part of the design process..
Therefore, I am inspired by the histories of companies (for example, Optimizely), who were able to organize the structure of their teams in such a way that the frontend-work was considered part of the design process. Jonathan Snook shared brilliant ideas on this topic based on his experience with Shopify. I look forward to spreading this idea, and urge organizations to consider frontend design a key part of the design process.

I believe that people with experience in frontend design are in an excellent position to help overcome the barrier between the worlds of design and development. They are a connecting element.that holds the bricks together. Life in purgatory between worlds does not sound very attractive, but it should not go on like this! Accept uncertainty, inspire frontend developers to exist between worlds, long live collaboration and excellent work!


As always, your opinions and comments are interesting, which you can leave here or have a look at Alexander on an open day .

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