I've always felt that my place in the web development industry has been misunderstood. It's been misunderstood by recruiters, by my employers, and more often that not, by myself as well. But over the past few weeks a new concept has been gaining ground that I identify with closely, and if this catches on, I think it could change the face of our industry.
I've always struggled with the dichotomy of my interests and aptitudes. If you've been following my posts and my LinkedIn profile for any length of time, you'll see that the words I use to describe myself change quite frequently. I don't like doing that, because I think it can confuse people.
But at the same time, I haven't found my particular "niche".
Whilst making great personal progress in terms of my development skill set, I've been a little resistant to leaving the design world altogether.
The truth is, sometimes I feel a bit resistant when I am told to code something up from a PSD or PDF, and it seems apparent that the designer has gaps in their knowledge about the web medium.
Perhaps the design of a blog post has so many separate blocks of text that I know content authors will struggle with the input, or perhaps certain design choices they have made would, in my opinion, have a negative effect on user experience or conversions, or simply aren't goal-orientated or aware.
These things bother me, and whilst I'm not in a position to choose what I build, I'm always dreaming about a time when I could have more involvement in the planning and design stage.
Enter The Frontend Designer
But now there are rumblings of change.
Brad Frost published this post a few weeks ago, in many ways defining the role of Frontend Designer, someone who is adept at code—but also has a keen eye for design. Brad's GIF says this way better than any words do:
This is where I find I have a niche.
I believe I am a competent designer with a good understanding and application of design principles, whilst not knowing all of the vagaries of trapping and overprint.
What It Means for the Industry
This could change things.
If the role of Frontend Designer was identified, even encouraged, it could lead to far greater collaboration between frontend- and backend- aspects of development. It could mean that more projects are built with awareness — no, perhaps love of — the web medium, it's abilities and idiosyncrasies.
We could start seeing more output that pushes the web forward, that challenges what can be done to provide users what they need, to fulfil the objectives of organisations, and to make websites more beautiful, more unique in their own right.
I'm writing this as a leading eCommerce retailer has posted a job description which matches this particular skill set, so it would seem there is already emerging scope for this role... and it's got me really excited!
Is it finally time for the web to grow up, to strike out on it's own, to lift off (what has to my mind become) the shackles of print design forever?
So, talking this over with a few of my esteemed colleagues, it seems this title isn't as new as I thought — thanks Lee. I also must emphasis that I'm not trying to minimise the roles that UX Designers / Web Designers and others who go by different job titles .. this one just seems to fit for me. Thanks for calling me out on that one, Dean.