How can you make sure your talented front-end developers feel supported, and have their specialist needs met?

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With front-end developer skills in high demand, rising to the challenge of retaining the best talent may already be a difficult task for organisations. Yet these highly skilled professionals are often faced with software and platforms that add a layer of unnecessary complexity, making them less efficient at their work. Without the proper systems in place, brands may risk losing front-end developer talent to companies with better systems to support their specialist needs.

The current technology landscape is drastically expanding the possibilities of online commerce beyond a ‘web shop’. While the new variety of devices, from voice assistants to smart home appliances, adds more range to front-end developers’ skill-sets, it should act as a motivator for more rewarding work. Instead, pressure to work faster as well as continuing to complete mind-numbing, low-level tasks can be detrimental to job satisfaction.

Along with the changing commerce landscape, modern commerce architectures, too, are emerging to meet market needs and offer the potential to transform the role of the front-end developer for the better.

Eliminating time spent on tedious tasks

Development at the front-end requires creativity alongside a variety of high-level technical skills, including working knowledge of HTML, CSS, plus JavaScript code libraries such as jQuery or React. Developers are often tasked with making changes to a front-end that’s heavily tied to – and impossible to update without also touching – the back-end, all while making sure the site doesn’t go down during the process.

Spinning all these plates can be very challenging during the busy periods that accompany trend-seizing promotions or seasonal sales. Not enough to sustain high traffic loads and not designed for scalability, these legacy platforms often have front-end developers scrambling to fix bugs in the middle of the night just to maintain a functional interactive shopping experience.

With headless commerce, the back-end is decoupled from the front. This means that even during periods of heavy website traffic at the front-end, the back-end will not be affected. Where peak seasons in retail have been troublesome for front-end developers previously, a headless, API-based architecture will free up time for front-end developers to spend on more valuable tasks like re-imagining the user experience, rather than responding to code-breakages at all hours of night and day.

Achieve faster time-to-market

Running time-consuming end-to-end testing has been a significant part of the front-end developer job description for years. Yet, performing extensive audits and bug fixes to align front-and back-ends can delay deployments significantly.

When they are free to experiment easily and safely, front-end developers can see the fruits of their labour in much faster timescales. This is particularly important as new channels emerge and different ways to reach customers need to be addressed.

Deploying creative new user interfaces to enhance the customer experience can be made much easier and become far less overwhelming a task using modern commerce infrastructure. Firstly, with a marketplace of third-party extensions and integrations which can be selected and simply plugged in.

Secondly, with decoupled back-ends and front-ends. As software developers carry out changes to the website, adding apps, store fronts, channels or even capabilities for voice assistants, virtual reality experiences or connected cars in the foreground, the background will remain blissfully unaffected. With no need to test for flaws created at the back-end, brands can efficiently launch new interfaces at speed to respond to emerging trends.

Overall, armed with the ability to experiment, alterations require less negotiation from developers, allowing them to be brought online with relative speed and ease. 

Shaping the customer success

Communications between marketing and sales has been a troublesome disconnect for many digital companies in the age of online commerce. As the arbitrator between the customer and the brand, website interfaces must fulfil criteria to suit both of these departments and the front-end developer must work within the limits of the available technology.

Legacy systems and ‘commerce-in-a-box’ solutions have limited front-end developers to fewer options in the past. Whereas now, open APIs and headless commerce systems are available which can be plugged in to any front-end and cultivate greater creativity to make more possible.

Front-end developers should be able to work closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure websites are delivering a seamless customer experience that is on-brand and using technology that allows them to achieve their intended outcomes. This is where modern commerce systems have responded.

Improving response times considerably between departments, modern commerce systems speed up deployments, tweaks and iterations between approvals. With faster turn-arounds and the ability to experiment without technical repercussions, front-end developers can ensure that their valuable skills are being used most effectively to shape the customer experience to precise requirements.

Greater ease of application maintenance

Those brands that still rely on legacy systems may struggle to capitalise on front-end developer skills and creativity. Ultimately, a system that is less prone to bugs when making changes harnesses the power to transform the role of the front-end developer from a website code caretaker into the valuable, skilled user-experience artisans they are trained to be.

It is crucial that front-end developers react quickly to market trends, using their skills to connect customers with brands in the most effective ways. While adapting interfaces to deal with temporary events such as flash sales or promotions, front-end developers can deliver direct benefits to the way a website looks and feels to the consumer. Where previously, websites would have to be shut down for whole days to accommodate alterations, website developers can now focus applying their expertise to usability at the front-end to gain a competitive edge without worrying about maintaining basic functionality of the back-end.

Brands get the most out of front-end developers who are able to build new prototypes and deliver innovation through new features such as microservices. With a modern headless architecture changes are agile, scalable and fast so front-end developers can get more rewarding work done.

So, with modern commerce infrastructure, brands have a better ability to understand and therefore more effectively utilise front-end developer time and skills. No longer required to spend long hours on low value tasks, front-end developers can use their time to create engaging experiences.

Modern commerce will help front-end developers answer customer demand for a seamless and exciting buying experience, delivery of total convenience and new features users don’t yet know that they want. As front-end experience design becomes an art, rather than a technical challenge, front-end developers will be tasked with recruiting a new set of customers, gaining a new competitive advantage and engaging loyal fans everywhere. With the freedom and flexibility to work fluidly, front-end-developers achieve greater satisfaction from their work and create real value and agility for brands.

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