The real art of front-end developers is their approach to the work they do.

Modern artists don’t have an easy job. Imagine you wake up every day with an awareness that in order to be visible among your competition, you need to have an outstanding idea of your next masterpiece. What’s more, it’s expected to bring much value to the way people think and perceive the world around us. And even though you may know some modern artists who didn’t need to prove their marvellous aesthetical skills to become famous and respected, you’re probably aware that the more advanced their sensitivity towards visual aesthetics, the better. 

The same refers to the front-end developers. They think in border-radius, background-images and padding-boxes. Even though the core strength of a front-end developer is code, there will always be hurdles during the development process that will require some form of design consideration. To overcome the UX/UI design obstacles, front-end developers should be like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - they have to embrace their dual nature, the creative and the technical side.

Why front-end developers need UI skills

The change happened a long time ago when websites and mobile applications began to focus on high-rate responsiveness. Not every customer comes up with a complete style guide, design patterns and mock-ups of what a particular part of the page is supposed to look like on the variety of different devices. In result, the task of a front-end developer is to fill in the visual gaps that pop up on the way.

Even if you have everything visually delivered to you with precise and ready-to-apply specifications, having design knowledge, advanced UI skills and developed sensitivity to visual aesthetics is a handy part of your toolkit. It directly contributes to better development. In what way? Check it out!

Quicker Development

The primary responsibility of front-end developers is to deliver the product in accordance with the guidelines, components and mock-ups provided by designers. Nonetheless, they hardly ever get all the necessary elements so it’s not always easy (actually it sometimes might be very tough)  to assess what’s the direction they should take. 

There are two alternatives. 

In the first option, a front-end developer has almost no UI skills and needs to incessantly be in contact with designers to ask them what style specific elements, illustrations and animations are supposed to have. It makes both parties lose much time on communication. These human resources could be already used in many other projects that your company (certainly) has.

In the other alternative, a front-end developer possesses advanced UI skills and sensitivity to visual aesthetics and is able to fill the majority of the existing design gaps on his own without any loss of product quality or compatibility. In this case, it’s a much more independent work that’s not involving designers all the time. This allows you to accelerate activities related to front-end development significantly.

It also plays a crucial role in remote work, which is especially significant after COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The developer can talk to the designer and find out what he expects relatively quickly when they sit next to each other. However, when we’re far apart, the probability of success of such cooperation falls sharply. There’s an invisible mental barrier during remote work that makes us turn to the other party less frequently (and only in cases considered really important by us).

Creative Development

Just like modern artists are often asked to create on request, front-end developers regularly receive orders from external companies. Projects that aren’t run entirely in-house have one common characteristic - they don’t have a common standard. For an inexperienced developer with the lack of knowledge on UI, it could be a challenge to creatively produce anything beyond the basics. Getting along with the outside companies all the time would be bothersome. However, for the developer that has visual arts sensitivity, it might be a piece of cake.

The creative approach of the front-end developers who feel visual aesthetics allows them to improve their work significantly. For example, if there are no style guides, pattern libraries or other helpful guidelines, an excellent front-end developer will manage to do such a project anyway. A creative developer is equivalent to an independent source of additional knowledge.

Comprehensive Development

Well-developed UI skills and sensitivity towards visual aesthetics let front-end developers become an additional, independent party in the process of creation of product design. An experienced developer with these traits can advise the designers the way he perceives is the best to take. He can also set the limitations that can’t be crossed. Such an employee is not only a code writer - predominantly, he becomes an active contributor having a positive impact on a look of the design.

Participation in the creative process can make the most considerable difference when working on small projects. At the moment, the best front-end developers are even able to create designs for small projects independently. It means that there are situations when one person can cover the things that were previously prepared by at least two people.

Currently, the number of tools on the border between design and coding is proliferating. The reality is that a good front-end developer with colour and aesthetics intuition can independently create small- and medium-sized projects. There exists a pool of Javascript libraries, technologies such as Processing and other applications like Framer that significantly facilitate the life of front-end designers developers. This comprehensive approach is accompanied by quality assurance as the more your “artists” see and do, the better their skills will be. 

Bubble, Framer, Webflow and Processing - technologies that help front-end developers become designers.

Qualitative Development

If you don’t like modern art, we know what you’ll say. “The aesthetic quality leaves a lot to be desired.” The experts indicate that one of the major issues why modern art has so many problems with development beyond niches is the lack of visual quality. That often makes it exclusive and not understandable for the recipients.

On a regular basis, the art of front-end developers is to create a product that will be used by mainstream consumers. Front-end designers need to feel what is expected by the final users of their applications or websites. Therefore, not only do they need to possess their own sensitivity towards aesthetics, but they also should be able to recognise the demands of others.

In HeroDOT, by choosing developers who want to expand their UI skills, we’re able to provide a better quality to our business partners. Each page and application we design is no longer static but dynamic and responsive. That is why we need developers who after receiving an aesthetic direction, will be able to choose the quality solutions that will appeal to the end-users. We always find time to encourage them to evolve their design skills.

Saving Human Resources Development

The most valuable resource of artists and front-end developers is time. They don’t need sophisticated assets to create products that are worth attention. Front-end developers with advanced UI skills save the wealth of digital houses and their business partners. 

Imagine you have an employee that without exhaustive specifications is able to create both functional, responsive tools and pleasing visual effects for them. He also doesn't devote valuable time to communicate with designers continually. For smaller products, he can even take all the work on himself, which makes him simply able to cover more projects. 

If you have front-end developers who can design something from scratch, the time spent with them on a given website or application can be reduced from 20% to even 50%.

That was the case that we had with TAK Innovation, where Jarek Maćkow both created the design and constructed the website. One person solved all the animations, features and scaling issues.

Saving human resources such as time and creativity positively affects the number of people we employ and the number of projects that we are able to implement in a given period. And this has a direct positive impact on the final price that the customer must pay for our service. That’s a perfect example of a win-win situation!

CONCLUSION:

Undoubtedly, every front-end developer has the potential to develop their design and aesthetic recognition skills. Our responsibility is to give them space and proper possibilities to make it happen. Realising how design works can facilitate communication. It allows front-end developers to talk to all the variety of digital designers in their language.

Once front-end developers are fully capable of understanding designers’ needs, expectations, issues and requirements, they become versatile artists.