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Are Front-End Developers Happy?

mlimonczenko profile image Miranda Updated on ・2 min read

Hi, I'm Miranda. I've been a front-end web developer for several years, and if you're thinking about entering the vast career of front-end development, you might be wondering...

Are front-end developers happy?

Do they find fulfillment? Joy? Meaning?

Should you seek out a career in front-end development or look the other way?

And I have an answer! It depends.

It depends on your personality: the way you experience and handle challenges, and the way you conceptualize education and learning.

Read on to find out if front-end development will make you happy or make you miserable.

Front-end web development will not make you happy if...

You think front-end development is easy

You think HTML, CSS, and Javascript is baby stuff compared to complex object-oriented programming languages that run native applications. Sure --- you're super smart and could have been a software engineer coding complex networking components, easily! But you settled for front-end development. Trying is uncool anyway.

You think having a computer science degree makes you 'overqualified'

You have an expensive degree you haven't quite payed off, and you learned a lot of computer theory in college. You've been introduced to data structures (like hashes and trees) as well as sorting algorithms and Big O notation --- though you don't remember it all too well. In any case, the low-level computer stuff you learned is far more complex than HTML, so that makes you overqualified for the job.

You think designers 'being picky' is ruining your life

Designers are ruining your life. They keep telling you to adjust line-height and padding and to line things up correctly. They don't like that the layout breaks at certain browser widths. But come on! The site looks good enough. Nobody's going to see the page at that width anyway.

You think you must get it to look the way you want in less than 15 minutes

If you don't know the answer in 15 minutes, you sit at your desk and hold your head until someone asks you if "everything is alright," which is an invitation to vent. They'll understand. The machine is wrong, after all.

You think "it should just work"

All the time, things that you thought would work just doesn't. And no matter what you try, you are constantly wrangling web pages to no avail. It's so frustrating. Why would anyone choose front-end web development?

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mlimonczenko profile

Miranda

@mlimonczenko

Miranda is a technical writer and product lead at VMware as well as founder of Books on Code, which is a platform for programmers who love to learn through technical books.

Discussion

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I'm "full-stack" and I love it, however I "fear" that:

(a) Front-end is where the future is, back-end might be 'commodity' before the end of the decade, and

(b) Front-end is actually harder than back-end :-) which I attribute to it being visual, dynamic and "unpredictable" (because of the myriad of things the user can do, and all the permutations thereof)

Anyway, what I personally love doing is the whole shebang, front & back (and let's throw in devops as well).

 

Great post! As a happy front-end developer (most of the time), I get a lot of satisfaction by providing solutions to 'fill in the gaps.' I may have defined default and hover states, but if there's no transition specified, there's an infinite playground to connect them.

I also appreciate opportunities to combine my development knowledge with designers' expertise. I love having the chance to break out some wacky library I've bookmarked to add next-level touches to the designer's vision.

 

Yes! I know exactly what you mean here. After working with the same designers for a long time, I felt we were really in sync, and they felt like they could give me less and less information (a quick sketch on a piece of paper) for me to run with.

 

For sure! I'm lucky that much of my work is with my business partner (graphic designer) exclusively, so the shorthand can often be as simple as "like we did on [old site] except with [this] instead of [that]."

Generally, I'd say if you're unintimidated (and even better, excited) by non-comprehensive source material, you're likely to be a pretty happy front-end dev!

 

I liked most ideas, but especially this sentence: You think designers 'being picky' is ruining your life.
As a front-end developer, you must also care about the design, have some kind of liking towards good UX and be a partner to the designers.

 

Yes! The 'being picky' resonates with me since I know developers who were at wits' end dealing with designers (generally, back-end developers finding themselves doing front-end work). Part of that frustration can come from not seeing eye-to-eye with the designer (sometimes designers can get stuck on something after staring at their design for so long), but it can also be the developer doesn't have that eye for detail or the language to communicate effectively and so gets frustrated.

 

This is beautiful and inspiring! I'm a self-taught FEE and I sometimes take for granted the difficulty involved, how it overlaps with several disciplines, and has its own puzzles. It's nice to reflect on how rewarding the challenges can be for curious learners.

 

"Will you be happy as a front-end developer?" - that list is so spot on. I feel it is 100% me. I've been doing front-end development for 20 years, ~15 years professionally. I love it. There is something so satisfying about bringing a design and concept to life. I have considered learning more, but I do not think that I want to move away from front-end ever.

 

This is awesome, Melissa. 😊Happy 15th anniversary. I admire more than anything someone who is completely dedicated to their craft.

 
 

I guess the TLDR is that I am happy. :)

 
 

I am a full stack developer, at least I think I can define myself as such. I write the C# backend and the aurelia frontend. Also I do SQL performance optimization stuff and do basic css styling stuff (we have a dedicated team that transform out poor developer styles into good looking ones).
And in every sector I pick some topics for specialisation.
I am not sure if this is the best way but I go every day relaxed and full of anticipation into work and go home relaxed.

I do not know if JS will be the future. But I know that I am happy with it, no matter how we write our software in 20 years :-)

 

"Full-stack" consultant here, specialising in front-end.

EDIT: I realise my post below is mainly negative and I want to address that. This industry is filled with some of the most interesting and driven people I have ever met. I feel it is unique, in-that there is challenge for every skill level regardless of experience, with new things to learn and do all the time. It is also an industry where if you want to slow down for a bit and not be bleeding edge, then that is available too. I would challenge anyone to tell me of another industry where your work can reflect the lifestyle you want to quite the same extent.

My largest issue is everyone else assuming that enterprise front-end work is the easy part and devaluing the work. I find myself having to justify why something is taking longer than the gross underestimate that someone non-technical made before I was even involved in the process.

I enjoy my work. But the culture from non technical/web people within the industry can really put a damper on things. I do feel that perceptions are slowly changing though.

 

Thank you for sharing this.
I thought the post might resonate since we all know those working in other areas of tech who undervalue front-end development -- sometimes to the detriment of the product.

I do hope it's turning around!

 

I'm learning Frontend and I can say it's not easy especially when we have a bunch of tools and constantly new things coming up in the industry. Here are four projects that I did with flexbox and grid. and I love to hear your suggestion and view on the projects.

recommended_chrome_browser

Ecommerce:
live: alidhuniya.github.io/HTMLCSS-Proje...
code: github.com/Alidhuniya/HTMLCSS-Proj...

Digital Agency:
live: alidhuniya.github.io/HTMLCSS-Proj…...
code; github.com/…/HTMLCSS-P…/tree/maste...

construction:
live: alidhuniya.github.io/HTMLCSS-Pro…/...
code: github.com/…/HTMLCSS-…/tree/master...

Blog:
live: alidhuniya.github.io/HTMLCSS-Proje...
code: github.com/Alidhuniya/HTMLCSS-Proj...

Give a star to project if you like it
Design is taken from ThemeForest

 

Typescript made me the happiest little front dev ever 😄

 

Yes to Javascript (front end functions)
No to CSS/SCSS or any styling

 

i Have computer science degree. I am working for about 3 years in front end. I think i am overqualified . should i move to back end ?

 

To be overqualified is to exceed the skills needed for a certain job. But someone with a computer science education isn't overqualified because front-end development requires a different set of skills. The back-end developer I worked with for many jobs had two left feet when it came to front end development, and nobody would hire him to do that job.

My point in the article is if you do feel that you are overqualified (which, you're likely not), then you'll find unhappiness working in front-end development due to resentment.