"The State of Front-End Dev" Take Aways

“The State of Front-End Dev” Take Aways

Today, A List Apart hosted a panel discussing The State of Front-End Dev and I was challenged to blog some of my own take aways, so here I am.

I have always felt a little lost when trying to determine my role in the web creation ecosystem, and how to define myself and my skills. Apparently I’m not alone. It’s not a cut a dried thing. I found a lot of things today resonated with some of my own thoughts on my career and what I do well, and some other items were added to my list of things I need to learn or better my skills in.

Some things that fall into the Front-End Development bucket that I’m doing well at:

  1. “I know how to solve problems using web technology.” I think this statement sums up what I do more than anything else and it’s one of the things I love the most. I’ve always enjoyed a good problem, even before I got into coding/development. I thrive when presented with a chance to accomplish something I haven’t done before, and don’t know how to do yet. It’s honestly how I learned design software as well.
  2. Constantly learning, and a willingness to re-invent myself regularly. I absorb an absurd amount of information on a regular basis, regarding web design and development. Books, blogs, Twitter, tutorials, Facebook groups, etc. I want to know what others are doing, what’s working, what’s not, how to improve my workflow and what new technologies I should be training myself in.
  3. Specific technologies I’m proficient in HTML, Sass, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript.
  4. I have more than an awareness of the server level/backend re: WordPress/PHP/MySQL.
  5. I have at least an awareness in several of the other areas which were mentioned as valuable.

Items added to my list of things to work on:

  1. Accessibility, this is something I know very little about, and appreciate the moral obligation that exists to include this as part of my skill set.
  2. SVG, an item that has been on my list to learn. I’m intrigued by it from a design perspective and a way of achieving a more “pixel perfect” design in a responsive setting.
  3. Being ok with not knowing everything. This is something I need to work on, and I was encouraged to realize that no one does it all. I need to stop feeling like I have to do it all well to be valuable.

Ultimately after listening to the panel, I feel even more confident at calling myself a Front End Developer than I ever have before. I’ve always been a designer first, and I currently have a personal goal to work towards doing more design than I’ve been able to do recently. Given that, I’ve questioned if I really “qualify” as a developer. I never set out to become one. It’s something I kind of fell into, driven by my love of problem solving, ability to learn new things quickly, a need that existed, and an attitude to do whatever it takes. It’s left me wondering if that’s enough to be official. From what I heard today, it sounds like those are the very things that make it official as much as knowing the specific technology. I felt more alike than different when listening today, and that feels good.