10 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Hire A Front End Developer

hire a front end developer

Are you about to take the plunge and hire a front end developer?

Perhaps you’re not quite there yet, but are weighing up the possibilities as you explore how to digitalize key services, or build that app you think could change your industry for the better.

Regardless of where you are in the process, it’s important to consider whether you should hire a front end developer in house. There are other options for your front end build – such as outsourcing – that might be a better fit for your circumstances.

To figure out what kind of front end developer your project requires, it’s vital to ask yourself these ten questions, and map out the answers in detail.

 

1. What is a front end developer?

There’s no harm in starting with the basics! Make sure you and everyone else invested in the hiring process are clear on this before moving on.

Front end development (also called ‘client side development’) is the process of converting data to a graphical interface using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In other words, front end developers build the user interfaces for websites and web apps, and achieve this via code that runs on the end user’s browser.

In contrast, back end developers build and maintain the technology for the application, server and database needed for the front end to run in the first place.

2. How long does it take to hire an in-house front end developer?

Front end developers in the US and other Western nations are in demand right now. This means you’re likely to face an extended hiring process. If you are hiring in house, you may have to factor in long notice periods (companies like to try and hang onto their talent!) and potentially periods of gardening leave, if a developer has been working in a sensitive industry.

It’s important to consider the onboarding tasks that need to be completed once you’ve chosen your hire – training, security clearance, IT setup…All of these things add days (and sometimes weeks) to the process of setting up your employee to do their best work.

This means that if you’re bringing developers in full time, you may need to extend your project timelines significantly.

3. How much does a front end developer cost?

You need to be clear on how much a front end dev will cost you before committing to a full-time hire.

Front end development is a well-paid profession. For example, in the US companies pay an average of $107,000 per year for a JavaScript developer. Even if you’re looking for a relatively junior hire, expect to pay approximately $87,000. A senior dev with 5+ years of experience could ask for $145,000.

You should also consider the cost of the hiring process and any benefits you plan on offering to entice your ideal hire through the door.

 

4. Is it better to hire a full stack developer or separate front end and back end devs?

This depends entirely on your budget, your timescales and the complexity of what you’re trying to build.

If your project is simple, you may find a developer with enough expertise in both front end and back end programming languages to build your app or software project without any major issues.

The major advantage here is that you would only need to pay for one developer salary – a welcome relief for early-stage startups and anyone else on a tight budget! On the other hand, this approach will slow you down on more extensive projects. As well as doubling up your dev’s workload, you may need to allow time for learning curves to kick in if your generalist developer needs to brush up on some specialist skills.

If you’re building something particularly complex, bear in mind that your requirements might be beyond the skills of a generalist developer. You might need to prioritize top-level expertise and bring in multiple hires, rather than opting for a one-size-fits-all approach.

5. What programming languages should I look for?

Front end developers use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create the user interfaces for your applications. These three languages are non-negotiable, and will be the foundation of any other development tools your developer ends up using.

You may also need your developer to know jQuery, a JavaScript library which makes it easier for your website to use JavaScript. Whilst jQuery is slowly going out of fashion as many browsers can fulfill the same functions much quicker, it may be useful if you have legacy code that needs maintaining or updating.

6. How much experience should we look for in a front end developer?

Experience costs. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s something to think about

The experience senior developers offer will be invaluable to your project. You will get your product to release quicker, and you will likely experience fewer delays.

Here, you should also think about what sort of experience level you have available to you. If you’re trying to hire the best front end developers, consider how you can compete with top tech businesses to win one over.

If you’re desperate for top of the range talent but can’t access or afford it in-house, outsourcing is a good option. You could also consider hiring more junior developers if your project is fairly basic or doesn’t have an urgent need for deployment (long-term internal digitalization, for example).

This saves you money in the short term whilst building up an experienced team (who work how you like them to) for the future.

7. Are we already committed to a particular development methodology?

Different development teams work in different ways. How they organise and structure their work is called a ‘development methodology’.

If you have an in-house development team already, ask them how they prefer to work. The two polar options here are either ‘traditional’ (or ‘waterfall’) development, in which you code the entire project pre-release, or ‘agile’ which takes a sprint-based approach. There are a few hybrid options too.

Broadly speaking, Agile is the most popular of the two, given the speed of releases needed to keep ahead of your customers’ expectations (and stop them cancelling their per-month subscriptions!).

A front end developer needs to be comfortable with your release schedule, so look for one with experience in (or ability to adapt to) the development methodology you use. If you’re starting a team from scratch, think about how you’d like your team to work for optimum success – again, we recommend Agile, though you should always do what feels right for your business.

8. Will we need to make any supplementary hires to support our front end developer?

Hiring employees is like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages and then three that you need come along at once. This is because when you make a new hire, you sometimes lack the surrounding expertise to make the most out of their skills. Certain sets of skills complement each other and need to.

Hiring front end developers is no different.

For example, do you have project managers with enough technical experience to manage your app build? What about a product manager to define, manage and jealously guard your project roadmap? Do you have plans for a native mobile app alongside your web app, and if so are you sure your front end developer has that experience?

You can hire front end developers with reams of experience, but they will still struggle to make an impact if they lack the infrastructure to support their talents. You might have this in place already, but if you’re building a team from scratch you’ll need to think very hard about how you use and expand your headcount for optimum effect.

9. What non-coding skills should our developer have?

When you hire front end developers, you expect some serious coding expertise.

As well as the holy trio of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you may also want to look for proficiency with modular development frameworks like React, Angular or Vue. If you want to extend your developer’s mastery of Javascript to the back end of your application, you could look for experience using node.js.

You should also look for a range of non-coding skills if you’re looking for a great hire. Some of these will still be tech-based, such as:

  • Browser developer tools
  • Responsive design
  • Webpack or other module bundlers
  • Version control systems – Git or similar
  • Testing and debugging

Other skills fall under what many people would call ‘soft skills’ – but on no account should you ever dismiss these as less important than the skills above. Your front end dev needs to work well with the rest of your organization to do their job well.

  • Collaboration: even if they are your only front end developer, your new hire will need to work with a range of other people and take feedback from major stakeholders across your organization. Being able to get on well with people, accept feedback and collaborate effectively is a vital skill here.
  • Organization: front end development can be a demanding job with frequent deadlines to hit – sometimes under pressure. A good front end developer needs to be able to organize their workload effectively and juggle competing priorities successfully.
  • Culture fit: building a cohesive team that works well together is essential in getting the best work out of everyone. Making an effort to understand what sort of personality would thrive in the environment you offer could make or break the success of your front end developer hire.

 

10. Is hiring a full time front end developer the best option for us?

Hiring front end developers full time is a massive commitment. You need the time to find the candidates, the money to attract top talent and the infrastructure to manage them efficiently.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea to invest in all of this upfront if you see an in-house development team as an essential pillar of your future strategy – or if you have an established in-house development function already.

On the other hand, setting this up from scratch or finding particularly in-demand skills to fill in-house positions, will delay your project and cost a lot.

The good news is that there is another option here. Rather than hiring, you could outsource your front end development to a specialist development agency. This gets you instant access to top-level, experienced developers without the ongoing pay check or time cost.

At Tivix, that’s exactly what we offer.

We’ve completed front end development work for a range of clients, including the United Nations, Tesla and Zoetis. Whether you’re looking for front end development only or need full, end-to-end support with product design and back end development, our international network of talented specialists can meet your needs.

Does your project need developers? Get in touch to see how we could help.