Front end stylist – the new position every company should hire for

I was lucky to start my career at the right time, in the late 2000s. Back then a designer would typically draw something and the developer would pick it up and make it into a website or app, requiring only specifications and quality checks.

For personal interest I started learning how to code just enough to bring my own designs to life. This has always been valued in my jobs as a great way to bridge the gap between design and development. After all, how could developers be expected to appreciate the importance of design subtleties when they’re busy trying to make your app work?

This issue has been acknowledged more over the years and many designers followed the same course of action as me, to the point where it is now expected of them. ‘Seeking visual designer with expertise in CSS, HTML and Javascript’ is commonly found in job adverts. Years of graphic studies and building portfolios – yet now to be hired in the digital market designers have to learn an entirely new discipline.

Now CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) have to take into account too many factors: cross-browser, cross-device, performance, scalability and the constant evolution of the market.

What happens if the user has an Android 4.3 phone and some flexbox properties don’t work? How are you going to fix the layout? How can you even know this is a problem if your main job is javascript development or visual design? Sure, you can with experience, but why should you be expected to?

(Picture: Benny Zuffolini)

(Picture: Benny Zuffolini)

So what’s the answer?

Last year we chose to find it by hiring a new employee. The question was, who? Not a designer, there’s nothing to design. Our solution was presented in the form of a brand new developer not yet set on any restrictive path, with an open mind and naturally good visual skills.

The front end stylist is its own discipline, and its own full-time job. It requires 80% front-end styling expertise and 20% visual perception and attention to detail. Most of all it gives you time to dedicate to the look and feel of digital products.

   

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