It’s not enough to just be a front-end web developer anymore

It’s hard to imagine that on August 6, 1991, the first website that ever went live on the internet was nothing more than a few paragraphs of text and some hyperlinks. Long gone are the days that websites are just text paragraphs with little else to offer the user. Companies today compete to win over their consumers by throwing in as many communication formats as possible to grab a user’s attention and try to persuade their users to choose their brand over their competitors. 

There are few marketing channels that allow nearly all communication formats to be combined in one place for a company. Here are just a few of the communication formats that can be found frequently on websites today: 

  • Static Images: stock photos, background images 
  • Text: blogs, overall website content
  • Audio: podcasts, background music
  • Video: embedded YouTube videos, how-to videos
  • Moving imagery: GIFs 
  • Speaking: Voiceover for videos, embedded podcasts

     

So with websites being one of the most dynamic marketing technology tools on the planet for companies right now, here are some things that can make you a more attractive candidate when applying for a front-end developer role: 

Learn graphic design
Even if it’s just the basics, learning some graphic design can be an invaluable tool for a web developer. Oftentimes developers are expected to take a design file and develop it into a robust, responsive website. Having an eye for design, or at least a keen attention to detail, can save a team many hours of edits trying to perfect the design as it’s translated to web (and various screen sizes). Before getting into graphic design, I took the time to train my eye to try to learn things like: symmetry, alignment and when to add white space (what web developers know as padding or margin) to certain page elements. This sped up my production time and saved the graphic design team from needing to go through various rounds of revisions. 

Optimization tools are key
As front-end developers, we’re all about creating nimble code to optimize site speed. There is a direct correlation between user satisfaction and the time it takes for a web page to load. In a study by Google, they found that a 2-second delay on a site caused user satisfaction to drop by nearly 4%. With as many media types being included in websites today, it’s imperative for developers to know how to optimize these items for the web in order to reduce the impact it has on their website speed. Recently, a website I did a complete redesign on saw a 23% drop in bounce rate due to: resizing all of their images for web in Photoshop, offloading their videos to YouTube and optimizing their caching mechanisms using caching plugins. The site went from an 8 second load time, to a load time of just over a second. 

It’s not enough to just be a front-end developer and stand out in a sea of qualified candidates anymore. Marketing is constantly evolving and trying to utilize every communication format to convince their users that their product is the one they’ve been waiting for. Developers with design ability are becoming more and more prevalent as website capabilities become more robust to incorporate these formats on a company’s website. These web developer/web design candidates are able to fit seamlessly between the marketing and technology world to bridge the gap and see their company’s website for what it really is: a critical digital marketing tool.