The results of my poll are in. Thanks to everyone who filled it out and shared it. It’s much appreciated and it gave me some insight into where we are in terms of roles, organizations size and maturity and, probably most interestingly to me, what we’re called on out business cards.
Let’s look at the results.
Describe Your Current Role
|Soup to Nuts||37||17%|
|Front End Developer||107||48%|
Obviously, this isn’t a scientific poll1 and based on my audience there are going to be some biases in the makeup of this sample.
That said, it’s heartening to see so many of you focused on core front end technologies.
Also, I’m surprised that there were so few Markup Masters out there. I’ve interviewed a few of them over the past couple of years. I guess they’ve all been nudged over to being Hybrids or Front End Developers.
I feel for all you Soup to Nuts people. Here’s hoping you aren’t spread too thin.
What is Your Current Job title
|Front End Developer||31||14.4%|
|Front End Engineer||11||5.1%|
|Front End Web Developer||5||2.3%|
I was surprised by the prevalence of “Front End Web Developer.” It makes sense, sure, but I was still surprised by the specificity of “web” being inserted in there.
The CTOs were all in smaller organizations (less than 50). It’s still nice to see people with the job title in this space, but I yearn for the day for a CTO who’s truly one of us at a big-time organization.
On that note, two of the Directors were from larger organizations (101-1000 and over 10000) so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s promote those guys.
Also, there was one VP :).
If you’re looking to standardize on something for your job titles, you should start with Developer as the foundation. It’s clearly the most common noun for what we do. I will say I was susprised to see the generic Web Developer title win out over something like Front End Developer. Not super surprised- plain old surprised.
Random notes from the Job Titles
There was only one Ninja2. To make up for it, there was a Kahuna.
I was surprised to see only two people had Mobile in their title.
There were two Webmasters. Party like it’s 1999.
While cleaning up the data to do generic comparisons3 I learned that “Front-end” vs. “Front End” was a thing. I write Front End, but a lot of people hyphenate it. I don’t judge.
There was not one “Creative Technologist,” but we did have a “Computer Scientist.” That’s one in the win column. I’ve never liked the phrase Creative Technology. I don’t know where it came from or what it really means, so I’m pleased that it didn’t show up.
There were no Managers or Senior Managers. I’m mad at all the senior Sapient people I know who didn’t fill this out.4
How Old is Your Front End Engineering Team?
|Less than 1||57||24%|
|More than 7||40||17%|
I knew the results for this one were going to stink. I chose 7 years because that was just about when Ajax was everywhere and forward looking companies would have had at least a chance of putting a focused team together. Unfortunately, not many of them did.
The teams in the poll were much younger, with the majority being less than 3 years old5. Knowing from firsthand experience what it looks like with a mature team and what it looks like with an immature team I can say, without hesitation having some maturity in your overall team is a godsend. It allows you create world class solutions and creates a professional, supportive structure for front end engineers. It also allows them to operate at a very high level even when key members leave. People are automatically groomed to step up.
Having to build up those structures can take a while, so organizations with more experience are going to have a real advantage.
Organizations with more maturity are also more appealing to work for because there’s a track record you can point to in the recruiting process. A lot of people say things like “this is what we want to do” when trying to hire talent in this space. Speaking from experience, there’s a big difference between aspirational talk and talk based on real-world results. A group that has already proven it’s worth is a much easier place to be than one where the value top front end engineering is still an iffy proposition. Building everything from scratch can be fun, but it’s not automatically so.
How Large is Your Front End Engineering Team?
|0 (You Don’t Specialize)||33||14%|
|100 or more||12||5%|
I don’t know that there’s much to gain from this chart other than my concern with the prevalence of people who don’t specialize. What we do is hard to do at a high level right now and pawning it off on someone who’s also doing Java or design or… whatever doesn’t seem like the best idea to me. I know there are exceptions and I’ll have to analyze the data a little bit more to see if these are all shops, but it still concerns me.
I’m going to play around with this data versus the size of the organization to see if there’s something that shakes out there. Obviously a five person team in a ten person organization is more interesting to me and a five person team in an organization with more than ten thousand employees.
That’s what I’ve got. If you’d like, you can look at the full results. Feel free to share anything you notice in the comments.
I’m also going to follow up with an opinion piece that’s been brewing for a while. The results of this poll solidify the thought behind it, so the time to write it is now. Check back for that in maybe a week or two.