I’ve been a “web professional” for a couple of years now and even in that short space of time so much has changed. I’m sure that all those involved with the web such as developers, designers, UX, accounts people, social media grus, and many, many more will agree that it’s a fast-paced and forever changing environment.
Obviously we’ve had massive amount of change since the web was launched in the early 90’s but I’m not going to get into that. I’m concentrating on what’s personally changed for me in the last two years.
For those of you who don’t know me or what I do…. I’m a front end developer at McCann who mainly works in HTML, CSS and JS. I’m sure back end boys will know what’s I’m talking about, but FEnders will probably be able to relate more.
The rise of CSS3 has had a dramatic effect on the appearance and functionality of modern websites. It has enabled things to move, change, and dance around the screen. The vast majority of CSS3 has always been achievable using JS but it was a time consuming, computer draining and fairly complex procedure.
CSS3 allows developers to build content-rich web pages with relatively lightweight code requirements. That means fancier visual effects, better user interfaces and most importantly, cleaner pages that load faster than ever before. Support for CSS3 is great with all modern browsers handling the modules very well.
My favorite CSS3 module is box-sizing. This works down to IE8 and it’s become invaluable in all my code. I’ve recently added it to my front end template using a wildcard selector. Other favorites include border-radius (everyone love a round corner), background-size and of course transformations and animations.
The jump from CSS2 to 3 was one giant leap for web designers and I’m really excited to see what’s going to come next!
RD has perhaps been the biggest phenomenon and although it was regularly overlooked initially it now seems to be the ‘norm’ for many websites.
“Oh my god it’s not responsive”
The rise of the mobile and internet speeds meant that it became vital to ensure, as a developer, that users were able to access sites regardless of the device they are using.
I’ve heard many agencies & freelancers mention that they now offer RD as a standard. If you have a good workflow and understand RD then it’s pretty easy to implement it without adding too much time on a standard website build. Not to mention the hundreds of responsive FE templates that are available to assist developers, I will cover that shortly!
RD is something that I’ve really embraced and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. One negative aspect of RD is that many modern websites tend to look similar and follow an all too familiar structure and layout.
When I started out at my first workplace they used SVN. There was talk of git – and why it’s better – but I figure it was a fairly huge job in itself for transfer all projects from SVN to Git and I left before they changed over. Upon my arrival at McCann they were in the process of making the change and all new projects were started in Git, previous projects were gradually moved over too.
I don’t really know the exact reasons why Git is preferred over SVN. I understand they are different but the way in which Git works, the speed it works at and the file size it requires. There is an excellent stack overflow answer to that here.
I’ve started to use terminal for all my git stuff as opposed to the (lovely and well designed) Github GUI to ensure I know what’s going on at all times. I’m currently in the process of learning more about Git and the way it functions too.
CSS compilers have become very popular over the last few years. Many Web developers – including myself – were sceptic as to why they should make CSS complicated. It’s one of the most basic languages and does one really need this extra stuff when it only outputs the same code anyway?
However I now use SASS on almost all my projects, both at work and at Webknit. Once I understood the syntax and the features it was pretty obvious how it can be a a useful addition when writing CSS. Variables, Mixins and Operators are all fantastic tools and when used correctly they can make your CSS smarter, neater and actually easier to write.
SASS gets complicate when workflows vary between colleagues. E.g how is the SASS being complied and will the next person who picks the project up understand what’s going on? At work we use Grunt (which requires some learning in itself) and at home I generally use Codekit.
Frameworks became incredibly popular especially with the rise of RD and SASS/LESS. These things require extra code, time and effort so a LOT of people just picked a FE template that’s ready to go out of the box. These templates allow a Dev to start a project immediately using a well made template. Developers can either use them as they are or tweak them to suit their personal preferences.
Although these templates are incredibly useful, I’ve witnessed several occasions where ‘web designers and devs‘ struggle to make something as it doesn’t exist in bootstrap. I think it’s important that developers understand how things work before they begin to make use of them.
What else has changed
I think change is good and I enjoy learning and experimenting with anything that could improve me as a web designer. I’m sure there’s going to be lots more change in the future and I’m really excited about the direction CSS is going.