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Principles for professional front end development

Following up on yesterday’s post on the web getting slower, Alex Russell tweeted:

we should, as a community, come up with some shared principles around what it means to do frontend professionally.

Alex attempted to distill his thoughts down to four principles:

  1. If you are not a frontend specialist, choose the most conservative tools (e.g., semantic HTML + CSS) that can plausibly do the job.
  2. the experience of the user matters more than the experience of the developer
  3. frontenders must value and work to improve P75 and P90 latency as much, or more, than P50 or P25
  4. it is a frontender’s responsibility to advocate for expanding access to the products and services we build UIs for

These remind me a bit of the three principles of The Lean Web:

  1. Embrace the Platform
  2. Small & Modular
  3. The Web is for Everyone

I like Alex’s better as guiding principles for our profession, though. In particular, item number two—user experience > developer experience—resonates very deeply.

So many of the bad patterns and inaccessible approaches I see on the web today are born out of prioritizing developers over the people that use what they build. That’s ass backwards.

Item number three speaks to web speed percentages. P90 is the 90th percentile—some of the slowest internet speeds—while P25 refers to the top 25 percent of internet speeds/connections.

I also quite like number four: expanding access to what we build.

The web is for everyone, and far too many developers seem to have forgotten that (or never learned it in the first place).