[Checklist] Evaluating a Front-End Developer
This is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here:
Front-end developers play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical aspects of any web or app development project. They build on the work of back-end developers to create the user-facing content we interact with on websites and apps.
Given the duality of their role, their work needs to strike a balance between function and form; not only should their work be efficient and well-built, but also beautiful, and easy to use for a diverse set of audiences. A good front-end developer is not only technically savvy, but obsessively focused on the details that make user experience enjoyable.
If you’re just starting your hunt for a front-end developer to add to your team, make sure to prioritize these qualities:
- Do they have a solid understanding of core UX/UI concepts? Do they know how to develop for perceived experience, and can they manage tradeoffs?
- Do they have a track record of creating work that performs for a wide variety of users (from different devices, browsers, abilities, and more)?
- Are they knowledgeable in front-end testing, debugging, and security?
- Do they write maintainable code?
- Do they have solid framework and architecture knowledge? Can they compare multiple options, and choose the best approach for any given project?
- Can they understand and execute on the atomic design principle?
- Are they familiar with your team’s development methodology of choice?
- Are they experienced in working with both technical and non-technical stakeholders to execute their work (e.g. design and product)?
- Are they familiar with your team’s front-end framework(s) of choice?
- Do they proactively discuss potential use cases with the rest of the development team?
- Can they work in harmony with established style guides and coding patterns?
- Do they have a basic grasp of their teammates’ processes and technologies, especially when it comes to their back-end analogs?
- Are they a team player, and an easy person to work with? Can they comfortably work in tandem with others on a regular basis?
- Do they have strong non-technical communication skills? Can they accurately interpret the practical problem their work will solve?
- Can they empathize with the needs of users from a wide variety of backgrounds (with varying abilities, devices, and more)?
- Do they have a natural knack for detail? Can they flawlessly translate designs to a final product, down to the smallest elements?
- Do they make a point to keep up with rapidly changing front-end tech through continued self-education?
- Are they capable of producing work up to the aesthetic standard of your brand? Do they have a good eye, or at least a good understanding of UX?
Balancing technical and non-technical skills
How do you like to screen for both function and form when you’re searching for front-end developer candidates? Share your advice in the comments.
It’s important to note that the line between UI developers and front-end developers can sometimes be blurry. Some candidates may be more inclined towards UI/UX, whereas others may be focused on the engineering aspects of front-end development (e.g. design patterns, tooling, and architecture). Make sure you understand if your hiring manager is looking for one or another—or even a blend of both—before digging into the candidate pool.