Practical advice for frontend engineers / web developers
Web development is a difficult and tricky business. Even with building sites in a web standards way there are still complications and other issues to consider in each decision and turning point. Above just the technical skills there are the softer-skills that are essential in delivering a world class experience.
Each of those broad categories can be refined, with more and more specialities listed. And that’s just the hard technical skills. There are still the softer skills to consider in building a website. A web developer with a good design eye is always going to outdo the one without that appreciation. Experience in Information Architecture improves the sites a web developer builds. Accessibility – facilitating the use of websites for people with disabilities – also allows a web developer to build better experiences. And internationalisation – building a site in a way that can be rolled out quickly and efficiently in other languages and cultures – that saves building the same old wheel over and over again for each community.
When you try to define a web developer, the core skills are only a starting point, as much as two arms and two legs identifies a human. In a large team of web developers it is easier to notice that we are not all the same. We each, as individuals, offer our own blend of specialisms, and together we can build better sites than any single individual alone.
Specialism is a good thing, and spreading that specialist knowledge also encourages others to consider those special aspects and issues of that topic. Unfortunately, we focus too much on the generalities of specialist topics, we fail to comprehend the real flavour or benefit of certain skills and experience. I won’t dare talk about Information Architecture because what I say will trivialise it; but I don’t doubt for a moment the value of that skill.
So with these network of sites I’m focusing on the specialities I’m either interested in, or needed to understand as part of my web developer role at Yahoo!. The idea is to offer practical advice that is more focused and useful than the generalities of advice out there on the web. Each speciality brings a unique richness, and a conversation that is far deeper than just “10 rules of X”.
Each site covers a different speciality, and considers issues from that perspective. Of course, that doesn’t mean we must disregard other considerations. A great webdeveloper is one who can appreciate a large number of considerations and figure out the best, and most practical plan of action.