Nordic Design

Thoughts and ramblings by Alex Lillo, a front-end developer and designer.

The front end dev as communication bridge

What’s the role of a front end developer? Seems pretty obvious, to build a site that people can use to access whatever a company provides, be that information, selling products, etc. But there’s another role front ends can do and it's bridging the gap between product and backend. Let me explain.

Product

Designers and product managers will normally create the flow of screens and information for a site without a full understanding of how the backend works. They ensure the correct information is present at the right time, the actions are clear and help people navigate whatever they need them to do.

Backend

Back-end engineers may use those flows to create their endpoints, but quite often they will already have a system in place, or will break down that flow of information on several endpoints that read and write into their databases, on a more abstract level that may not necessarily match what product has in mind in terms of steps. The design may not even be completed by the time they start!

The answer to match those two disciplines is better collaboration, but that doesn’t always happen. And who’s in the middle of those two? The front-end developers.

Acting as a communication bridge

As a front-end, you understand what endpoints are going to be used and when, how they are going to affect the flow that product has in mind. Equally you can communicate with backend to help them see how their endpoints need to be change in order to allow the product vision to happen.

A front-end that doesn’t work as a communication bridge will just try build the closest to the product vision with the tools given by the backends. Will think of themselves as an executor, when they could think as an enabler of better products.

By helping that communication between disciplines early on, you can help make that product vision a reality.