What I've Learned As A Designer and A Front-End Developer

Note: This is a guest post written by @aktuskey and contributed during Hacktoberfest. I totally agree with her points here, especially number two, which I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, ha ha. Enjoy!


Hello! Guest blogger here. I recently made the career transition from a designer to a front-end designer and developer, and wanted to share my experiences and realizations from being on two sides of the proverbial coin now.

The Top Three Things I’ve Learned (For Brevity):

1. Consistency Is Key

When I was just a designer, I would try to make my UI layouts as cohesive as possible, but I was more focused on creating the visual look and feel to make my designs pixel perfect. When I became a developer, these “small” inconsistencies in the design began to through off entire ecosystems. Soon, I found myself using so many different spacing and font variations that my Sass files were becoming huge. I have now learned to work with a rem-based system with only so many sizing variables and limiting myself to 4-6 different font sizes throughout. It was a little frustrating to design within those constraints at first, but it made the overall look so much more balanced and was a dream to develop.

2. Learn What You Need, As You Need It

Una Kravets (@una) once tweeted, “You can learn anything, but you can’t learn everything.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that my journey to be a developer only started 8 month ago! When I started working with the other front-end developers on my team, I felt a huge amount of stress trying to learn every framework I could. It seemed like an impossible task, and that I would never be able to keep up. However, as I moved across different projects, it became clear that in order to grow and survive, I would need to learn just what I needed at the time, and save the rest for later. It seems common sense, but with so many of us dealing with Imposter Syndrome, it can be hard to pull back the reins and focus on incremental learning, one step at a time.

3. Find a Mentor, and Learn from Each Other

I am very lucky to work with a team of awesome developers who are passionate about what they do and love helping others. In particular, I’ve found a mentor in one of my coworkers who loves to teach and has graciously tutored me many nights on tough programming concepts. It can be scary to ask someone to mentor you, but most of the time, they will be flattered and eager to help (just look how many people want to contribute to open-source projects on Github!). I’ve found that as my mentor teaches me, he feels comfortable asking me questions about design, something I have a large knowledge base on. Someday I hope to even mentor younger developers myself.