Lead Front-End Developer or / and Designer ?

over 8 years ago from , Lead Developer Front

Hi DN,

I would like your feedback on my "vocation". Sorry for mistakes English is not my native language, but feel free to answer, I understand it quite well.

So I'm a 23 years old lead front-end developer & designer in a new web agency created a few months ago. We are currently five in the team so far:

1 lead front-end developer + designer (me) 1 lead back-end developer 1 sys admin 1 business unit leader 1 technical manager

  • A few interns or freelancers

For now I can be a lead front-end developer and designer at the same time. But time passes and I know projects will become bigger and more difficult to manage.

I'm in love with design but I'm also very picky about the front-end development.

On the one hand, I love to define the intented outcome of each project, solving problems, defining components, defining how people will interact with it, defining layout, typography, colors, etc.

On the other hand, I want the front developement to be "perfect". Using good markup, pre-processors, media queries, em, RESS, LESS, SCSS, gruntjs, for example.

So I don't know the direction that I should take. Is it possible to do both ? Do you guys have any experience about it ?


  • Shawn BorskyShawn Borsky, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Hopefully, I can offer some insight. I ran a web firm for a few years and I was the owner, CEO and lead web designer.

    I think the best way to think about it is that while you can be a great designer and front-end developer its always going to tear you between disciplines. As project load grows, you get less and less time to be a perfectionist yourself and you must trust other people to maintain the quality.

    While it depends on the projects and level of management you have to do: Its generally going to be better for you to find a really great front-end engineer. Being a designer that can speak an engineer's language is a HUGE asset but its so tough to be great at both with so little time to focus.

    I think there are many ways to go about it. My personal experience taught me to keep an eye on design, keep em' honest but find someone who is totally focused on front-end that you can trust to keep up the quality otherwise you will stress yourself out and have so many problems that it will be hard to focus on one.

    Good Luck :)

    7 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, over 8 years ago

    Ultimately the designer will have a say on the final outcome of how a project will look. Being a 'lead front end developer' you should be able to communicate whatever process or feedback you want. Simply hire somebody whose on the same wave length.

    Is it possible to do both? 'Jack of all trades, master of none' is a phrase that comes to mind.

    2 points
  • Kevin LetchfordKevin Letchford, over 8 years ago

    I think your in the same position as the guys over at http://paravelinc.com, small group of guys who share a lot of work. In smaller more dynamic companies having some one who does design and front end is not uncommon. This is practically were the term "design in the browser" has come from.

    Good web designers should be able to function with front end code. If your looking to scale your business its never going to be practical to do every thing; as that's what your peons are for!

    0 points
  • Giulio MichelonGiulio Michelon, over 8 years ago

    What did you study? Computer Science or Design?

    0 points