Brad Frost on Frontend Design

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Somewhere between design – a world of personas, pixels, and polish – and engineering – a world of logic, loops, and linux – lies frontend design. Frontend design involves creating the HTML, CSS, and presentational JavaScript code that makes up a user interface.

A frontend designer (who may also go by UI developer, client-side developer, UI engineer, design engineer, frontend architect, designer/developer, prototyper, unicorn, or Bo Jackson) lives in a sort of purgatory between worlds

This is my life. I am often shoe-horned into the role of pure developer, when in reality I’m a designer that develops for the front end. Organizations that I’ve worked with in the past tend to separate the two, and this puts me in the precarious position of having to choose between them. Or those who don’t understand my skill set tend to take me with them when they need a technically minded individual to interpret and discuss a topic.

While some of this organizational separation may be justified, creating a division between designers and frontend developers is an absolutely terrible idea.

Here’s the thing: HTML, CSS, and presentational JavaScript build user interfaces – yes, the same user interfaces that those designers are meticulously crafting in tools like Photoshop and Sketch. In order for teams to build successful user interface design systems together, it’s crucial to treat frontend development as a core part of the design process.

He mentions how he thinks that front end designers are particularly well-suited to bridge the divide between design and development and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a key skill set in any organization that creates and designs user interfaces.