Today wraps up my two-day conference at Web Unleashed. Information overload aside, the conference has presented a wide variety of topics ranging from how to network with people to building effective Web applications with the best practices. Here’s some takeaways from a few of the sessions I’ve attended:

Oops. I Guess We’re Full Stack Developers Now

Chris Coyier of CopePen/CSS-Tricks did an amazing job in illustrating a front-end developer’s range of skills and how it’s expanded over the past few years.

  • There’s a divide happening between front-end developers. One side are people specializing in JavaScript and HTML, CSS, design, UI/UX; both of which has evolved a huge deal over the past few years
  • People are starting to think that the title “Front-End Developer” had become too broad of a title as some people specialize in multiple things and have different mindsets, e.g. “UX Engineers” and “JavaScript Engineers”
  • “Is front-end development having an identity crisis?”
  • When companies post job openings for “Front-End Developer” what is it exactly that they need? What are the exact skill sets and specialties required?
  • “A Recap of Frontend Development in 2018”
  • The term “front-end developer” might need to be re-“branded”, or branched out.
  • “Two ‘front-end web developers’ can be standing right next to each other and have little, if any, skill sets in common. That’s downright bizarre to me for a job title so specific and ubiquitous.”

He made an excellent analogy between a front-end developer’s skill set with a rainbow. These past few years, the responsibilities of a front-end developer began to expand with the rise of new frameworks and technologies, leading to the “great divide” between developers (full article here), and why this is a growing concern. Developers like myself have felt some sort of identity crisis as to whether we classify as both front- and back-ends now as the line between them is being blurred over time. I’ve had this train of thought for a while now, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one experiencing this. On the bright side, the more skills we know, the better.

Full-Featured Art Direction for the Web

  • The fact that a site looks and behaves different across multiple browsers – is in fact a feature, not a bug!
  • We build websites for other people – I myself have forgotten this at times!
  • Don’t make everything rely heavily on JavaScript. There are millions of people who are using older browsers!
  • The hegemonic design gaze dictates what is “good”/”bad” design is – often from an aesthetic point of view, with little regars for utility, origin, or environment; i.e. a common pitfall when evaluating an existing interface.
  • A website must be progressive, inclusive, localized and systematic.
  • A good web experience is decided by the client/users, not by designers
  • Don’t just translate – localize!
  • Implement a tiered implementation based on browser capability (low, medium and high fidelity)
  • Don’t remove default states! Design a better one for accessibility! (e.g. a button’s default state, outlines around form fields, tab indexes for people who can’t use a mouse, etc.)

Network Like A Boss

I might identify as an extrovert, but networking has always intimidated me!

  • People’s first impressions of networking include shyness, intimidating and many have a tendency to stick only to that one person they meet.
  • Introverts CAN network!
  • Treat the networking event as meeting new friends, not clients.
  • Show genuine interest in other people by being an active listener and having a good skill for paraphrasing.
  • Networking must be defined as “an activity that increases the value of your network and/or the value you contribute to it.”
  • Pre-plan before attending an event – research, connect, select for people to chat with.
  • When networking through online means: be a fan, offer your network, keep in loose touch, show interest and share relevant content.
  • Dress according to the group; and is possible, take it one small notch higher.
  • Go alone – provides more space to build relationships, more likely to approach strangers, stand out as an individual.
  • Don’t spend too much time on one person, noting that the other person will need to network with other people as well.
  • Apply the “Pacman” approach, have a small opening on your conversation circle to encourage other people to join in!

Let’s Web Dev Like It’s 1999

This is seriously one of my favourite topics! I’ve been hit by a ton on nostalgia waves as I began learning HTML as a hobby in building my class’ web site back in 2001!

  • The “bar” for Web Development is exponentially higher today than it was in 1999 – back then people only needed HTML and FTP!
  • Framesets!!! I had a huge laugh at this. I wanted a static navigation bar that sticks around when users scroll down, so <FRAMESET> it is! The sad part was, the content for that sticky navigation bar needs to be in a separate file (something like an include)!
  • Spacer GIFs!!! They made lives easier back then by repositioning elements down to pixel-perfection! I personally implemented another usage for this 1×1 transparent spacer GIF – I used it as an anti-theft measure so that my classmates from high school do not right-click and steal my sites’ images through the means of using the transparent GIF as an overlay on the actual image! It was an ingenious idea and my classmates were mindblown at my neat little trick. πŸ˜›
  • <FONT> tags!!! Wasn’t exactly a fan of this – I didn’t like how many times I had to tell the browser that I wanted Comic Sans MS on every <p> tag on my page!
  • CSS existed back then but were only used to style the <a> tags when the mouse cursors hovers on it. You know it, people loved them when my underline becomes an overline!
  • Want rounded edges on your box container? Work hard for it! Build a table layout and slice rounded edges on paint for each corner and name them as top-left.gif and bottom-right.gif! Oh, did you say site redesign? Yeah, you’ll need to redo those, too. Hahaha!! I’m so thankful for border-radius now!
  • Back then, <script> tags inside <head> were cool… at least not until Google said that it wasn’t exactly a good idea a few years later!
  • ALERT!!! Everyone’s favourite debugging tool for JavaScript… until I realized I have inadvertently entered an infinite alert() loop and I had to Ctrl-Alt-Del my way out of the browser!
  • I’ve seen these very user-friendly error messages way too many times and it used to scare the crap out of me!

I’ve had so much with these topics! All the speakers are engaging and the all these new information helps keep people like myself afloat in this fast-paced industry. I will definitely be on the lookout for future ones like these.

Good job, FITC crew!

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