One of the most common questions people ask when they are first meeting you is “So what do you do?” When it comes to my job as a Front End Developer, this can be a long and drawn out answer. In the end I typically end up answering the question as “I’m a web designer.” In actuality, however, I’m not a web designer, in fact the term web designer can referrer to lots of people, whether they are a UI designer, a front end developer, UX designer, etc.
It just so happened that on the same day, a friend was telling me that the company she works for is looking to get into web, and would like to hire some freelancers. She sent me a job listing she put together ( she’s a film/video editor ), that pretty much summarized everything you see when you go on craigslist. The job listing was asking for someone who could design, code, develop, and maintain sites on an on going basis. I explained to her that the web is a little more complicated than something just one person can handle. I continued to explain that asking for such a person is like asking for a “filmmaker” who can shoot, edit, act, direct, etc a movie by themselves. Sure its possible for one person to create a movie, just like its possible for one person to design, code, and develop a website… It’s just that the result isn’t going to be that great.
Its apparent that there is still a stigma present in our industry that our jobs, front end, design, developer, server administration, etc are all things that “the kid down the street can do” and do cheaply… 8 Gram Gorilla recently posted an article imploring the industry to develop same sort of certificate to separate the casual users from the career driven professionals.
Below is my attempt to summarize what a front end developer is in the form of a job posting.
Front End Developer
Additional requirements include:
- Familiarity with browser testing and debugging
- Expertise in performance optimization using tools such as YSlow or PageSpeed
- Ample experience navigating Photoshop and saving images for the web.
- Custom Themeing in WordPress, Drupal and/or Magento
- Basic understanding of PHP
- Understanding of OOP
- Contributions to OpenSource projects on GitHub a plus
- A firm grasp of SEO / SEM best practices
Applicants should write a email cover letter with a link to their portfolio and related work.
So what do you think? Would you add anything else to the list? What do you say when people ask what you do?