No, this is not a new profession. It exists since the creation of the web but one can say that it’s changed names and evolved over the years.
This article aims to give information or to (re)present this profession which holds an important place in the cogs of web site creation.
In an Internet site’s production chain, the front-end developer steps in after UX design and the graphic mock-ups.
The Front-end produces the “visible” portion of the screen, that’s to say that s/he defines all the page components as well as the user interactions.
At reception of the mock-ups, these are “simply rough images”, and it’s impossible to make the slightest action such as a search or just browse the site.
The front-end developer’s goal is to “transform” these images into static web pages making certain that the design and interactions thought through by the UX/web designers are respected as well as coding’s best practices (semantics, optimization, etc.)
The developer can create pages with 3 languages:
– HTML for the structure (titles, blocks)
– CSS for style (colors, backgrounds, margins, browser style navigation, etc.)
Ok, so three languages. But the languages and technologies are in perpetual evolution!
In addition to managing compatibility between platforms (Windows, Macintosh) and browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.), the front-end developer must also ensure compatibility with the new peripherals such as mobiles and tablets that frequently appear on the market in order to guarantee proper browsing and avoid a difference between the mock-ups and the end result.
This approach didn’t exist several years ago and requires great production and quality control on the completed project.
Today, it offers a wide choice of frameworks and libraries so it’s important to choose the technologies to be properly implemented and to master them.
Depending on the project, the developer must know how to implement:
And all within an e-commerce solution!
In fact, s/he must incorporate different web solutions (hybris, magento, symfony) as well as the different technologies (Java, php).
The front-end developer must also work with different professions.
S/he is invariably associated with web designers and UX because s/he must check the feasibility of the mock-ups, dialogue to find new ideas and handle any problems which may arise.
Several front-end developers may collaborate on a project, that’s why it’s important to code in a proper, clear, and constructive manner so everyone working with these files can understand them and easily use them.
You will have understood that the front-end developer is like a Swiss army knife, a master in adapting the mock-up to the end result, using technologies that are constantly changing.
In addition to this technical baggage, s/he must be capable of sitting in the user’s seat in order to create test scenarios and (re)produce errors on the functions developed… and if I click on the button 50 times, the browser doesn’t get it wrong?! As a result, the technical and functional quality control phase is long so that the delivered site is qualitative and meets final user needs because in every e-commerce project, it’s important that the visitor not run into obstacles in the buying process.
I hope this article allows you to better understand this profession and the importance these skills bring to the completion of an e-commerce project.