After working as a front-end developer for three years, I have been able to summarize what I feel are the four major concepts of front-end development. Knowing and studying these four areas will make you stand out from the crowd.

In this article I'll discuss the four practical concepts you should focus on to become a better front-end developer.

Accessibility

This is a big part of front-end development that you should take into account when building your sites or apps.

Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.

Now in terms of front-end development, this refers to the degree to which a site is accessible to any category of people.

For example, some time ago, I built a site and I didn’t add a home option to the navigation links. I thought everybody should know that when you click on the logo, it should go back to the home page.

To my surprise, even the client didn’t know that was what was supposed to happen, so she was not able to access the homepage. I could just have simply added the home link and she would have had access to it on her own without anybody telling her she needed to click the logo.

Using CTAs (Calls to Action) can go a long way in building accessible sites. Giving directions in the form of an arrow can also be very helpful. So we must have this in mind every time we are building a site.

Our users aren’t all the same, so we should always try to build a site that is accessible to everybody or any type of user.

A simple design explaining accessibility with fonts. Small fonts might not be seen by some users, same with a decorative font. Its better to use fonts, links etc that are makes your site accessible to different people. 

User-Centered Design(UCD)

Building an accessible site for your user simply involves having your users in mind. This brings about the second concept: “user-centered” design.

User-centered design (UCD) is an iterative design process in which designers and other stakeholders focus on the users and their needs in each phase of the design process. UCD calls for involving users throughout the design process via a variety of research and design techniques so as to create highly usable and accessible products for them.
— Definition of user-centered design (UCD) by the Interaction Design Foundation

User-centered design is very often used interchangeably with human-centered design, but user-centered design is a subset. Simply put, all users are humans, but not all humans will be your users (you wish!).

Thus, user-centered design requires deeper analysis of your potential users – your target audience. It is not only about the general characteristics of a person. It is also about the particular habits and preferences of your target users. If you study these, you'll be able to come up with the right solutions to their problems.

User-centered design takes into account age, gender, social status, education and professional background, influential factors, product usage expectations and demands, and many other important things that may vary for different segments. What is critical for some users may be irrelevant for others.

User-centered design is about deep research on your potential users’ habits, from their interactions with the product to their vision of how the product should look and behave.

User Centered Design Process

As a designer or a front-end developer, you should know that you are not building only for yourself! Users (other than you) are eventually going to use whatever you are building. So, which do you think is better, “building what you like” or “building what the users want”?

Building an accessible site or product for users is what makes our work outstanding to clients and users.

Why build a product that satisfies no users? There's no value there. So always endeavor to build what your users can relate to. The products, websites, and so on that you work on must be user-focused .

Responsive Design

I classify responsive design into two categories. Let's look at each one now.

Screen Responsiveness

Ever visited a website, especially on your mobile device, and the layouts of the site look scattered? As a user, I get discouraged and leave immediately.

This is also similar to “user-centered design” because not all users will access your website through a laptop. Some will use tablets, while others will use mobile phones.

Consider the different possible gadgets users could use and go the extra mile of building for different screen sizes. Trust me, your users will be happy to access your work with whatever gadgets they have.

This explains what screen responsiveness is. Making your site fit into all screen size and still accessible.

Click Responsiveness

I visited a site some time ago and clicked on the navigation menu to navigate to other pages. I kept clicking repeatedly but nothing happened and was unable to find any other navigation cue. I got frustrated and left the site, disappointed.

That’s the exact reaction your users will have if your buttons, links, and so on are not responding as they should.

Make sure you make all features responsive. If a button is not doing anything on the site, go ahead and remove it (you never know - that might be the first thing a user clicks on when they enter your site).

Click Responsiveness 

Creativity

Have you ever come up with an amazing design, but the next day you get the feeling that it wasn't as amazing as you thought? Like the beauty of the design faded?

I know this doesn't just happen to me. And that’s why front-end development requires you to be creative.

Coming up with different ideas and good design patterns shows how much creativity you have. Don’t be complacent and try just one approach or technique – people will get used to it. Instead be diverse in choosing colors, fonts, and even layouts.

A design showing creativity with color and shapes in two different ways

I used to use the “Poppins” font for all of my work until a friend of mine brought my attention to it. Then I had to consciously go to google fonts and choose a better and more beautiful font. Until that point, though, I had never realized how beautiful other fonts are.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” — Charles Mingus

Choose the right color, the right font, and the right layout and create something simple and unique out of it.

Wrapping up

As you can see, studying these four concepts of front end development will help make you a better developer. I hope you have been able to learn somethings through this article and so you can start applying these concepts to your projects.

Kindly share with article with fellow developers if you find it helpful.