What's a front end designer/developer?

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Update Jan 24, 2011 Yet another term: “front-end engineer” appears in this excellent write-up on what qualities to look for when hiring a front-ender. Do give it a read.

I consider myself a front-end designer. When I go to Refresh, a local web design/development meetup, and the host asks the crowd who’s a developer and who’s a designer, I never know when to raise my hand. True, I design a lot of things. But at my day job, I rarely design an entire site from top to bottom (with the exception of our mobile site). Usually I work with a team to design something. I’m rarely the star of the show, but I don’t mind because I believe great things can come from team work. And while I do much with markup and code, I don’t feel like a developer either, because I don’t build PHP newsletter applications on a regular basis. So just what is a front-end designer/developer? And which is it, developer or designer?

To me, a front-end designer should:

  • Be able to design a site or edit a pre-exisiting site's design
  • Collect and analyze analytics
  • Run an A/B test
  • Run an ad-hoc user testing session
  • Build site concepts based on what users want and need
  • Have excellent, accessible, semantic, lightweight, yummy, master-level, cutting edge and beyond HTML/CSS skills
  • Bring the AJAX and jQuery
  • Wrangle at least one CMS, preferably more.
  • Craft a mobile version of a site.

So what do you think a front-ender is? Or is it a completely arbitrary title?

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