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Post by Rich Moy on Sep 29, 2015, 12:00:00 PM

Front-end developers are tasked with building the part of the web that we all see and interact with every day. In less technical terms, every time you load and use a website on your desktop, smartphone or tablet, you’re looking at the work of a front-end developer. To help you stand out in front of the best candidates, here’s a guide on how to find and hire front-end developers.

Know Where Front-End Developers Go to Show Off Their Work

Considering that many come from a design background, front-end developers are especially eager for people to see the work they’ve done in the past. Platforms such as Coroflot, Behance and Krop are popular sites for designers and developers to increase their online presence, while also giving recruiters the opportunity to preview their work and determine if their aesthetic matches your brand.

Additionally, Pieter Depree, a Senior Recruiter at Stack Overflow, says the front-end developer candidates he sources are often active users of Stack Overflow. We also found that those who answer front-end development-related questions are quick to discuss the projects they’ve worked on in the past, as well as the projects they work on for fun. From a recruiting standpoint, this will give you a glimpse into the programming languages this user has in his toolbox. If you’d like to see his responses to questions regarding CSS, simply click the tag and you’ll be taken to 171 answers that will confirm he really knows his stuff.

Educate Yourself on the Challenges Front-End Developers Face

If you were at a complete loss for talking points the last time you needed to hire a front-end developer, you likely weren’t alone. Typically, a front-end developer is responsible for the following:

  • Accessibility- which involves ensuring that a website appears correctly on all devices and browsers. With the endless options for mobile devices in particular—not to mention the countless versions of browsers being used by consumers—this is often very tricky.
  • Usability- which charges a front-end developer making sure a website looks good on all devices and works well. While certain types of developers cringe at the thought, our CEO Joel Spolsky argues that user interface programming is fairly easy, straightforward and often times fun.
  • Performance- which in layman’s terms means that a front-end developer’s goal is to ensure a website loads quickly.

front end developer description.png

Now that you’re equipped with a high-level overview of what a front-end developer does on a day-to-day basis, dig a little deeper and explore more of the specific issues they tackle. To help you get started—and to help you stand out in front of top candidates—here are three challenges a front-end developer faces on a day-to-day basis.

  1. What is Bootstrap? This is somewhat new to the world of front-end development. Bootstrap was originally an internal tool used by Twitter’s tech team, but is now open source. While many acknowledge this framework allows them to quickly create responsive mobile sites, many more are still trying to grasp the basics of Bootstrap.

  2. Re-learning CSS the right way. No matter how confident programmers may seem on the surface, there’s always a little uncertainty in the way they get certain things done. One user points out that CSS works best when you have semantically correct HTML as a baseline.

  3. Front-end testing: what and how to test. There are a lot of tools available to use for testing, so it can be tough for someone to choose. However, a Stack Overflow user recently recommended being careful in how often you run tests while also pointing out they’re most useful for smoke/regression tests.

As you’ve probably guessed, we’ve just scratched the surface. If you get lost along the way, keep your tech team involved in the hiring process and ask them for additional clarity when you need it.

Know What Gets Front-End Developers Excited About Coming to Work

Knowing what they do everyday is just half the battle in hiring a front-end developer. The other half is knowing what will make them want to work for you. We spoke with Judah Anthony, a Technology Manager at The Economist, who described three things a front-end developer commonly looks for when they’re considering new job opportunities.

  1. Projects that emphasize and value the user interface. Not surprisingly, front-end developers want to work for someone who values a beautiful website as much as they do.

  2. Opportunities to go deeper into the client side of things, which involves working in frameworks such as Backbone, Ember, AngularJS or React.

  3. Opportunities to dive deeper into Web 2.0 concepts, which includes overlays, carousels, fly-outs and drop-downs.

We’ve given you a lot to digest here, but your ability to attract and hire the top front-end developers depends on your willingness to get your hands dirty and learn more about what they do and what makes them excited about their work. When you start to grasp the concepts we’ve outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to making that key hire that will help take your website to the next level.

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