I was speaking yesterday with a colleague of mine tasked with auditing a website. She, a user experience designer, is responsible for a great many things: facilitating client kick-off exercises, conducting user interviews and research, assessing information architecture, and designing the user interface with wireframing tools like OmniGraffle. Instinctually, she started the audit by assessing the website’s content structure, information organization on the page, and the overall visual design.
console.log() messages, and curly braces.
I didn’t think much of the conversation as I went about the rest of my work day. It wasn’t until this morning that I became consciously aware of what I was getting at: Front-end development is user experience design. More specifically, front-end development is one piece of the user experience process.
Every byte we ship over the wire matters. Clearly, a slow website is a bad user experience. So too is an inaccessible website. Every single line of code we write affects the user experience. Performance and accessibility aren’t solely the front-end developer’s responsibility, but the onus is on us to ensure that the code we write improves the user’s experience.
To be clear, I’m not advocating we abandon useful tools like Bootstrap, Modernizr, or any of the other great libraries and frameworks we have at our disposal simply because they add weight to our websites. I am encouraging front-end developers to keep the user’s experience front-of-mind throughout the build process. As we’re tasked with writing the code delivered to user’s browsers, it’s our responsibility to act as stewards of the user experience.