A Front-End Responsibilities Laundry List

Clothes pegs
Photo Caspar Rubin

I have put together a laundry list of front-end engineering responsibilities in a GitHub repository. Please share, use, fork and contribute back as you wish. The repository has a Creative Commons CC0 license, which means you can do what you like with it.

Why I created the list

When researching the topic of front-end engineering responsibilities, I either found very specific job descriptions or long-form articles musing on the nature of the front-end development profession. The job descriptions vary enormously and are tailored to the organisation’s needs and culture. And the musings are entertaining but ultimately not what I was after.

What I was looking for was an answer to the question:

What are all the organisational responsibilities addressed by front-end engineering roles?

The intention is not to outline the responsibilities that all front-end engineers should or do have, but to provide a broad list of responsibilities that is or could be covered by ‘front-end engineering’ as a field.

A laundry list is not a checklist. It acts as a prompt or reminder, not a list of items that should be addressed in every case.

The emphasis is on the responsibilities of an organisation, not of the individuals that work there. The reason for this is that any of the responsibilities in the list could be carried out someone who doesn’t identify as a front-end developer. Organisations do all sorts of things to get stuff done. Roles can be a mismatch of disparate responsibilities.

Take your average tiny startup for example, where the CEO might be hacking on CSS one minute and pitching to investors the next. They may not identify as a ‘front-end developer’, but front-end development is definitely happening.

Use and adapt

Many of the items will not be relevant to your own circumstances. Conversely, I have inevitably missed some things that should be on there because I have a limited understanding of some areas of the field. (Please contribute if you think something is missing).

Front-end development is a broad field, and no two organisations or developers treat it in exactly the same way. Increasingly, organisations need to diversify their capabilities as the web gets more complex, but individuals can benefit from focusing on a narrower niche of expertise. The key is to be aware of where responsibilities actually lie, and which responsibilities are the most important to focus on.

Some example uses

The list should be useful for:

  • discussing areas where an organisation, team or individual should focus their energies
  • discussing distribution of responsibilities among different roles and individuals in a team
  • discussing and formulating job descriptions
  • those considering whether a career in front-end development would appeal to them
  • sharing knowledge about the scope and nature of front-end engineering roles
  • examining strengths and weaknesses of an organisation’s front-end engineering capability

Please contribute!

I’m just one front-end engineer with specific experiences. My outlook is therefore subject to countless biases, just like yours.

I’d like to make this list as useful as possible, so contribution from others is very welcome. Please read the project contribution guidelines.

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