I think imposter syndrome put a lot of pressure on front-end developers to go deep on engineering (performance, scalability, etc) since they worked with code and sat with more hardcore back-end engineers. When in reality, many front-end developers are more successful and are able to contribute more going deep on the interface as a whole (meaning the human/communication part and the computer part) and being two-way communicators that speak both languages, seeing as interfaces are two-way communication layers themselves. The need for people to translate design/experience to tech and then tech to design/experience is enormous. They help develop a product, not so much engineer it.
As superficial as it is, I really hate Brads website – the whole thing remind me of a Microsoft Frontpage template
What Brad talks about in his post (in regards to the purgatory between worlds that front end designers sit in) I have experienced a great deal. From the traditional agency approach, many of these companies are trying to catch up with modern practices. Many of the agencies that I have worked at or the agencies where I have colleagues tend to be very behind the times in this regard. They take the traditional visual designers who have little to no experience designing for digital platforms, services or products and use a traditional waterfall approach to project management with passing on polished Photoshop comps off to the developers (if they even have a developer(s) in-house at all). This delineation naturally perpetuates siloed work. I and some of my friends in the industry have been in situations where our ability to write HTML, CSS, and some JS automatically lumped us in with the developers or worse; we became the digital catch-alls and scape-goats. If it's digital, period; it went to us...and that meant Google AdWords and Remarketing, Social Media, IT Support, Email Marketing. Anything that had to do with the Internet, is was on us to fix...and when we couldn't, we were to blame.
Effectively we were removed from the design and increasingly became relied on for all sorts of tasks that are best handled by programmers, DBA's, etc.
I believe this is mostly because there is a misunderstanding of what a front end designer is, what they can do and how they can effectively work in a team. This could be indicative of my location. I live 3-4 hours from Brad in Pennsylvania and our locations couldn't be more different (culturally, financially, etc). I don't live in a particularly progressive part of the US that has a strong base in technology and design. I think that also has a lot to do with the job postings we see in our area as well. It's one thing to be a "Unicorn" designer that can write HTML, CSS and JS...but a lot of employers are looking for the designer with the programming capabilities, database knowledge, video editing skills and a plethora of other disparate abilities.
Essentially, a good front end designer can act as the bridge between the visual and technical sides. A blended team approach works very well.
Its true, Frontend Designers are basically Bo Jacksons
Hopefully without career ending injuries.
Where'd you get that picture of me
There is this clear divide now of 'traditional' front-end developer, as mentioned in Brad's post, versus the front-end programmer and both roles sit under the same job title causing real confusion within the industry.
And that team structure is how things should ideally be. Masters working with masters to efficiently and effectively solve a problem.
Great post. We've had this approach for quite a while now. But when I posted a job opening with the title 'UX Engineer (frontend developer)' I only got reactions from designer types with hardly any code experience. Finally, last week, after not getting good matches for 3-4 months I caved in and renamed the jop opening Frontend Developer :(
Here’s the thing: I’ve never had a computer science class in my life, and I spent my high school career hanging out in the art room. Suffice it to say those requests made me extremely uncomfortable.
If you expect to learn code at school/college/university that will set you up for life you're doing it wrong. You should be learning every day for the rest of your life. Higher education such as university shouldn't teach you code but you should learn how to learn; how to teach yourself code. The whole thought minefield of 'spoon feed me stuff I'm paying to be at university' is damaging not only to the education system but to an extent is making people lazy and not prepared to learn.
Also, if you're being asked questions you don't have an answer for, but are surrounded by people more well informed, you can always ask others!
Just because he can teach himself to normalize a database doesn't mean it's his job. Just because it's not his job doesn't mean that people won't ask him to do it.
It's an odd point to pick out of that article and a bit irrelevant given that he taught himself to code.
I assume he means "Front-End Design"?