Today's full-day session (don't call it a workshop!) was led by Chris Coyier. Chris spent the session building a website. He then used this activity as a framework to discuss front-end development in general.
Chris got down into the details. I garnered some great ideas that will be coming to the next Brave New website near you in the next few weeks. Overall, I was reminded of four questions you should be asking the front-end developers you work with.
- Is your code pixel perfect? The right answer to this question is "no." There is no such thing as pixel perfect when every website must look great on TVs, phones, and everything in between. Code needs to be faithful to the design, but pixel perfect is a thing of the past.
- What are your build tools? The specific answer doesn't matter, but every front-end developer should have an answer. We use Gulp at A Brave New, but Grunt, Webpack, even Make are fine answers. Build tools automate the development process and assure you are getting optimized assets for your website.
- How do you optimize images? Images account for most of the data a user downloads when loading a website. Simply using good settings in Photoshop isn't enough. Developers need to be post-processing images as well.
- When's the last time you didn't use jQuery? Don't get me wrong, jQuery is great. We use it all the time. But, your front-end developer shouldn't have to use it to do simple things.
These are great questions to ask the front-end developer in your life. I know non-technical readers may not know what gulp and jQuery are, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that your developer has thought about these issues. If they haven't, you need to fix some gaps in your development process.
It was heartening (and a bit meta) to see Chris reference CSS Tricks as he coded the website. It's a reminder that no one can keep everything about this job in their head. In that spirit, if you are reading this, and aren't sure of your answers to the questions I posed above, ask me.
And now, for Chris, some lightcoral action.
Photo by Jeremy Askenas