Jeff Croft

I’m a product designer in Seattle, WA. I recently worked at Simply Measured, and previously co-founded Lendle.

Some of my past clients include Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and the University of Washington.

I’ve authored two books on web and interactive design and spoken at dozens of conferences around the world.

I’m currently accepting contract work and considering full-time opportunities.

Blog entry // 01.03.2014 // 3:57 PM // 47 Comments

Web Standards Killed the HTML Star

When Zeldman wrote our bible, we were there, pounding the table in board rooms for using CSS instead of tables for layout, for image replacement techniques that retained the accessibility of the content, for semantic code, and all the rest.

We were there. Many of us even wrote our own books and spoke at conferences all over the world on the backs of the movement Zeldman and company started. It was an awesome time, and we all acomplished a lot for the greater good of the web. We were the “gurus” who taught the world how to do HTML and CSS the right way.

The reason the Web Standards Movement mattered was that the browsers sucked. The stated goal of the Movement was to get browser makers on board with web standards such that all of our jobs as developers would be easier.

What we may not have realized is that once the browsers don’t suck, being an HTML and CSS “guru” isn’t really a very marketable skillset. 80% of what made us useful was the way we knew all the quirks and intracries of the browsers. Guess what? Those are all gone. And if they’re not, they will be in the very near future. Then what?

A lot of folks who came up from that time and headspace have diversified their skillsets since. Many are now programmers, or project managers, or creative directors, or business owners. But a lot of others are still making a go of it as an HTML and CSS guru, often in a comfortable job they’ve had for years. What happens when that gig comes to an end?

I personally know several people who feel unequipped in today’s job market, because their skillset is a commodity now. Today, when you interview for a job titled “Front End Developer,” you’re going to be grilled on everything from Backbone to Angular to Node. Prefer “Product Designer?” That, too, requires a bunch of skills you didn’t learn on A List Apart. HTML and CSS gurumansship is no longer enough to get yourself a job — rather, it’s one of the quick yes/no questions you’re asked on the phone screen before you even get to talk to the hiring manager.

In some ways, the Web Standards Movement killed the Web Standards Guru. We all should have seen this coming. The goal of the Web Standards Movement was for it to not have to exist — for the browsers to be good enough that there wasn’t a need for such a movement.

Or rather, that there wasn’t a need for you. Diversify or die.

P.S.— I see a similar eventual outcome for all those who have made their names as a “social media guru.” Eventually, that’s just going to be a skillset that’s baked into all kinds of marketing positions — not something one can ride off into the sunset on the back of.


  1. 001 // Andrew Ingram // 01.03.2014 // 4:15 PM

    At my day job (, I assume you have nofollow, if not I apologise) we don’t even have front-enders in the conventional sense. For us “front end” means “the website” and backend means “the business”. Everyone working on the website does Python/Django, complex JavaScript apps, responsive CSS, HTML, even a fair amount of UI and Design work when there’s not enough capacity in that team to do everything we need.

    It sometimes pains me to see people stubbornly sticking to just the HTML/CSS skillset, when it’s clear that whilst you have to be good, you don’t have to be that good to handle the full stack.

  2. 002 // Scott Phelps // 01.03.2014 // 4:25 PM

    Here is a lot of what is necessary today, in handy interview question format, but in GitHub just to make it webby enough.…

  3. 003 // Antonio Radovcic // 01.03.2014 // 5:31 PM

    Great Article, great Point!

    I think that the majority of HTML/CSS–people has at least some background in either (product-)design or software-engineering they could build upon to stay relevant.

    I can imagine a niche–role being created: The “Responsive-Expert”, who knows the ins and outs of different viewports, resolutions, devices, (future-/legacy-)browsers and input-methods and can work with the designers and developers to ensure maximum compatibility for apps and websites.

  4. 004 // Jeff Croft // 01.03.2014 // 6:01 PM

    I can imagine a niche–role being created: The “Responsive-Expert”, who knows the ins and outs of different viewports, resolutions, devices…

    Maybe, but that seems to have the same expiration date on it. Eventually, being “responsive” will just be the basics, not anything to spot off about on your resume.

  5. 005 // Abhishek // 01.04.2014 // 2:44 AM

    The current trend of Web technologies is creating a lot of buzz and also confusion. Too many things are evolving and it is not easy to acclimatize with all the changes that are taking place.

  6. 006 // Pat O'Callaghan // 01.04.2014 // 10:19 AM

    From a technical standpoint this Rebecca Murphey post from two year ago sums this idea up pretty well……

    The front-end has become so complex in recent years that it’s no longer good enough to just be able to do HTML, CSS and a dash of Javascript. I’ve recently just gone through rounds of interviewing for front-end positions at various companies and as you mention HTML and CSS was the baseline. Unit Testing, tooling, code architecture, maintainability were some of the subjects that always came up.

  7. 007 // nerdfiles // 01.04.2014 // 2:03 PM

    I totally agree with that dictum: “Diversify or die”.

    In many ways, the people who constitute the bottom floor of the Standardista ranks do not even observe the Standards. They get by on the fact that neither language has tooling or testing environments built around them, and it’s generally anecdotal argumentation and charm of personality that secures for them their “guruship”.

    You cannot build Web Components on HTML and CSS alone, though HTML and CSS are becoming more integral to the development of modular, testable, coherent codebases. As JS becomes more visible, the shift of responsibility will change.

    Many UI problems and features are exposable now in virtue of Browsers implementation of Standards (shadow DOM, templates, etc.) — so it becomes important to know what Concerns to apply to the problem or feature. Now that JS has become more visible in front end development practices, not knowing the opportunities for solving problems involves not knowing where HTML and CSS fit into an overarching paradigm of web and client JS code.

    Most developers will attack every problem their their HTML/CSS hammers or their JS hammers. Most front end developers are not true generalists or full stackers. “Diversify or die” is a good mantra, if any.

  8. 008 // IWishToRemainAnonymous // 01.04.2014 // 2:57 PM

    I am one of the standards gurus, brought up on a diet of Hesketh and webdesign-l (and bordering on zealotry at times).

    I am effectively dead. I diversified into PHP backend development, but the world moves too fast. Still catching up with TDD/BDD/DDD, not had time or enthusiasm to learn Backbone/Angular/Node/Insert another 15 alternate frameworks/etc. Detest Bootstrap, as being everything the web I fought for isn’t.

    Being an advocate suited. Being a “human cog” producing code which no longer requires skill (software engineering skill yes, but an different brain-skill to the kind cross-browser development used to) and which will be software-generated in 5 years doesn’t.

    Morituri te salutant.

  9. 009 // Kevin // 01.04.2014 // 6:10 PM

    I’ve been writing HTML/CSS since I was a kid around year 2000, and still feel less comfortable sometimes with coding web designs than writing JavaScript, Python, or something else.

    I’m not design-ignorant, but I am not a star. I’m not sure whether I value the designer or HTML/CSS guru more.

    Recently, I left Bootstrap behind and wrote styles for a webapp from scratch. That was educational. If you haven’t tried it recently, I strongly recommend it. When I finally had something decent looking, I had learned so much more about semantic HTML & CSS, and had discovered dozens of great resources - MailChimp patterns lib, OOCSS, etc. I felt like I was doing real “front-end engineering”.

    That being said, the next day I cloned Bootstrap and began to customize its appearance with my new CSS (overriding variables and adding new styles where necessary). Standing on the shoulders of giants, NIH, whatever you want to call it. Too many people have worked out the cross-browser kinks for me to roll my own designs from scratch.

    I’d think there must be a good market for those who are very good at CSS and HTML. But, like Andrew said, often those are also JavaScript developers. It’s all very similar thinking. But the ones who have strong design skills are special :).

  10. 010 // David // 01.04.2014 // 6:41 PM

    Discussion on Hacker News:…

  11. 011 // Mark V // 01.05.2014 // 1:26 AM

    I, for one, do usually employ an HTML+CSS person in order to lift some weight from the front-end developers.

    In the Russkie job market, this profession is universally called “typesetter” and very well exists on par with other front-end dev jobs.

  12. 012 // Josip Baki? // 01.05.2014 // 4:33 AM

    I would dare say that what you describe is a common characteristic in programming as a whole - in our quite beautiful drive to logic, simplicity and, actually, fairness, we are making our skills and our jobs less and less needed. Programming languages are easier to learn and use, we encourage everyone to learn coding, and we develop tools that do more and more of the work automatically. Eventually the machine will program itself, while the last programmers, now mere administrators of that machine, will be busy writing a new machine capable of administering itself..

  13. 013 // Darryl // 01.05.2014 // 8:11 PM

    This post, in a strange way, reminds me of the slow demise of Flash several years back. I remember around 2005 if you had chops writing AS2 with XML and SOAP you could get a decent gig at any digital agency. Oh time marches on, as does technology.

  14. 014 // Sush // 01.06.2014 // 2:50 AM

    I agree Darryl, I can remember being a bit worried about what I would do but now I can barely remember how to code Actionscript as I have replaced that knowledge with the likes of jQuery etc.

    I think unlike designers who build on their knowledge over a career, as Front End Developers there will always be the next thing to learn, it is just managing to maintain this!! :)

  15. 015 // stuart lamour // 01.06.2014 // 6:43 AM

    html & css is still the format for the delivery of the end product of most websites.

    From arais and roles, html5 attributes, input types, svg, shadowdom - to preprocessors, media queries, flexbox, css vars, font-face, psudo selectors, rem etc - when you don’t have an expert in html & css in the team who really understands the dom you can smell it in the code, and feel it in the end product.

    The browsers got better, but so did what we can do with our html & css in them.

    Bring back the gurus.

  16. 016 // Scott // 01.06.2014 // 8:23 AM

    I would agree with this if it weren’t for the fact that even though many developers “know” HTML & CSS, it’s the “gurus” that write the most lean, efficient code.

  17. 017 // name // 01.06.2014 // 8:33 AM

    i wonder, how long one can keep up with the ever changing web. I used to be really good at making pages work correctly in ie6 or make a css-only dropdown menu etc.. nowadays those skills are relatively useless and i mostly use (micro)frameworks and js-libraries. a relatively large amount of my spare time is spent to try out new techniques and improve my skills. but how long can i do that? let’s face it, the older i get the more difficult it will be to acquire new skills. at one point i won’t be able to keep up, which means that i will lose my job. sometimes i feel, that my career choice was wrong and i should have choosed something else. sorry for my bad english.

  18. 018 // John Foliot // 01.06.2014 // 8:37 AM

    My New Years wish for 2014 is that the niche specialty I’ve made into my career also becomes “just baked in” - that it is so common-place that it too is a commodity. Almost every web-accessibility “guru” I know is working towards the day when we don’t need to be.

    As I look at the web today however, while it has gotten better, there is a hell of a long way still to go to meet even basic accessibility challenges on numerous sites.

    Hot Tip: there is a huge need for real expertise in this area still - and I mean folks who know more than how to spell Section 508. Experts who understand the differences between JAWS and NVDA and VoiceOver (and others - and there are lots of screen readers out there); specialists who understand how tools like ZoomText (and other screen magnifiers) work, who grok that for low-vision users they are gonna change your pixel-perfect layout (Fck pixel-perfect - ain’t gonna happen); designers/developers/”gurus” who routinely* and with-out question provide captions and transcripts for all of their HTML5 videos (and today understand the challenges on delivering to that requirement). You want to retain “Guru” status today? Show me an ARIA Guru :-). Develop more than just your technical skills, work on those empathy skills - ask yourself “how would this work for a blind/deaf/paralyzed/developmentally-challenged user?”

    There is still room for Gurus in 2014 (and if you are an a11y Guru looking for work - ping me)

  19. 019 // Ted Drake // 01.06.2014 // 8:38 AM

    I was also lucky enough to be in the ground floor of the Web Standards movement and that opened the door to great opportunities, especially at Yahoo! But over the years I’ve specialized on accessibility, which I love. But it has also meant that I’ve lost the diversity of experience, especially with JavaScript development.

    While we understood browser quirks, we also knew the importance of semantic markup and separation of content, style, and behavior. Sadly, this recognition is fading away as people focus on platforms, libraries, and copy/pasting bad examples.

    I think a lot of the work I do today is emphasizing the use of standard markup, regardless of the language used to create the eventual HTML. This also applies to iOS, Android, FirefoxOS, and Win8.

  20. 020 // Dave Woods // 01.06.2014 // 8:41 AM

    Interesting article but while it’s something that I’ve not really considered before, I think that anyone who stays still and doesn’t develop their skill-set beyond what first made them successful in this industry is putting themselves in a dangerous position as things are constantly changing.

    There’s always something new coming along whether that be responsive design, CSS3 features or new SEO best practices, learning and improving our skills will always be part of our work.

  21. 021 // Remi Grumeau // 01.06.2014 // 9:01 AM

    Well, i’m not fully agree, and we saw that dozen times in the past. The “Front end task” is now splitting just like graphic design & flash devs & back-end & SEO did. The more a technology get mature, the more it splits into new skills/tasks.

    15 years ago, one guy, called “webmaster”, was doing everything: graphic, coding, hosting. Then dynamic languages split the job into client / server sides. Then Flash splits client guys as Flashers & web developers. Then AS2 split Flash guys as Flash devs & Flash graphics. Then web developers splits as HTML or CSS or JS. Now HTML5 splits JS as DOM JS & JS APIs. Then mobile splits UI & UX. Now Node splits JS devs as frontend or backend.

    Now CSS frontend needs some splits as RWD layouts guy, CSS animations guy, mobile web optimizations guy, pre-processors guy … one guy can’t master CSS like back in the early 2000’s. Follow this natural splitting trend, or prepare to be left aside like Director devs in the past.

    Just my 0.02€

  22. 022 // ben // 01.06.2014 // 9:13 AM

    There are just too damned many skillsets at hand. How do we get away with believing that anyone can specialize, keep on specializing, and still remain a fit asset to the teams in which they work?

    I sure as hell don’t know.

    (Attn proprietor: my site link is my GYOB response, for very generous values of ‘blog’.)

  23. 023 // Geecko // 01.06.2014 // 9:22 AM

    Less quirks and weird stuff - Just hundreds of different screen heights, widths and interfaces. yay!

  24. 024 // Kelly Johnson // 01.06.2014 // 9:31 AM

    I agree with many pieces both in the article and in all the comments.

    However, I still wonder where all these people work? I’ve worked at or with major brands and the most important aspect of any digital/web project is: it works the way it’s supposed to.

    Standards and best practices are all fine…seemingly more now for newbies to start learning more easily instead of getting ‘into the trenches’ like so many of us had to with IE6, Netscape etc., but the idea that one removes creativity in the way something works so as to be ‘standard’ never flies in a creative world so why should it be so paramount on the web?

    As some pointed out, you can’t really build an interactive, immersive experience with ‘just’ html5 and css3…. content is still very relevant and the actual design is the the gateway to that content. So presentation, part of design, is still as important as ever. Behind the scenes where all of us code-dorks view-source is only important to us code-dorks viewing the source.

    I totally agree a job is much easier to jump into or pick back up after a hiatus if the coding structure is somewhat standardized whether by means of tags used, javascript/jquery technique used etc., but I remain old-fashioned (and well employed) realizing that the message being received by the intended audience is paramount above all else…whether or not the code is in-line with standards or there is plenty of room for gurus; it’s just the gurus need to know how the basics, HTML and CSS, apply to that aspect rather than just knowing all the tags.

  25. 025 // igmuska // 01.06.2014 // 10 AM

    I don’t know why they are called standards if one set of devs uses their own code versions while berating another set of devs’ code versions. Generally, I usually just tinker with the best commented code in the various sets of standards to learn their patterns, and refactor to my enjoyment. But does this make me a qualified developer? No way! To be a qualified developer/designer, sought after by the masses, one would have to have skinned CNN, New York Times and Yahoo. Other than that, skinning Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal, seems to the first step to rockstardom. But try bringing that up in the dev circles and risking all sorts of shredding and scathing scorn. What keeps coming to mind is how the user gets forgotten in these standards, after most users just consume data and don’t bother with what is under the hood. A user standard has to be set for each device. I keep seeing many of these high tech websites look awesome in a browser, bling everywhere, then flounder horribly on a cell phone. Or at the very least, if on a cell, require daily updates (10 to 15 minutes of torture). So to end this, user-first standards should be developed, after all, the user is the one pressing the buttons, swiping/scrolling the page and often finding the obvious, overlooked way to crashing the site

  26. 026 // Don Ulrich // 01.06.2014 // 12:19 PM

    *I thank many of the black boxes and mystery processes are beginning to disappear. Thanks to the transparency of well-formed, valid ideas driving the process. The baseline for what Oracles know has changed. It could be argued that Oracles have been replaced by the diversity and transparency that open standards have brought about.

    *evolution works again

  27. 027 // Anon // 01.06.2014 // 1:37 PM

    Web Designer with that cushy long-term job you described here. I share comment #17’s sentiment. How long is “keeping up with keeping up” sustainable for those in my/our position? One does get old, and the mind and body wearisome. A scary thought it is of becoming irrelevant.

    My specialty, I guess - as a caveman, still lies with HTML+CSS and rarely do I ever code anything in JS from scratch. I’m not a code monkey, and I doubt I ever will be. With that said, I do dabble in frameworks and stuff. And I also make extensive use of Drupal and the tools others have made available to me. Standing on the shoulders of giants, in a matter of speaking.

    Maybe what I am trying to say is that I might be trivial in the scenario that you have described, but I’m a designer first and a pragmatist second. Though, I should have been a plumber with all the shit needed to wade anyways.

  28. 028 // Ben // 01.06.2014 // 2:40 PM

    I’m a CSS expert and am decent with Design/UX as well. My JS skills I rate as a 6 on a 1-10 scale. I get at least 1 offer for interview a day that perfectly matches my skill set.

    There is so much constantly changing and being invented in the HTML/CSS world alone that I’m not sure how any (many?) human(s) could actually keep up to date on everything. So far my career and pay continue to grow just with the “web standards” knowledge I have.

    However, I do eventually see the need to increase my JS knowledge or move into management and/or design heavy fields. I just can’t seem to get my mind around higher level JS, probably because it’s boring to me. The less visual something is the less I enjoy it. For now though, I’m still bombarded by decent job offers.

  29. 029 // Jeff Croft // 01.06.2014 // 4:35 PM

    @Ben (#28):

    I’m a CSS expert and am decent with Design/UX as well. My JS skills I rate as a 6 on a 1-10 scale. I get at least 1 offer for interview a day that perfectly matches my skill set.

    I’m not surprised. You have WAY more than just an HTML an CSS skill set. You are a user experience designer. You are useful, if not an expert, at Javascript. Those are real meaningful skills. You’re not the person I’m talking about.

    I’m talking about the person who gets Photoshops comps from a designer, uses HTML and CSS to convert them into web-like documents, and then hands that work off to a developer, who makes the app work, using both front and back end programming.

    The designer has a skill set that will always be useful: design. So does the programmer: programming. But the person in the middle? The person who just does HTML and CSS? I see way less of those jobs today than I did five years ago, and I can foresee even way less in the next five years than there are now. That’s who I’m talking about.

  30. 030 // E // 01.07.2014 // 1:52 AM

    Very interesting article. I have been thinking of this “problem” for a while, since it pretty much matches me.

    I agree and disagree.

    I’m very good at HTML5 / CSS3, but this is not something you learn once and then you’re set. I must constantly learn new stuff about HTML5 and CSS3. It’s a huge area and new tricks and techniques are invented / discovered all the time.

    But at the same time, I very much see your point. Because of that I have gotten quite good at; building custom themes in WordPress from scratch (integrating HTML / CSS in the WP CMS), while not being a PHP expert, jQuery (making the “mistake” in my jQuery enthusiasm, kind of disregarding my knowledge of native JS - which I am working on getting back on track on at the moment), responsive web design (although one could argue that this falls under HTML / CSS knowledge).

    Getting by on pure HTML / CSS is getting harder and harder everyday, but it depends on your job. Web development in general requires that you are constantly improving your knowledge, much more than the “average” profession, so it’s a very good idea to learn new stuff.

  31. 031 // sdfsdf // 01.07.2014 // 3:33 AM

    I would be surprised if in this day and age you still can find a job purely because of your html and css skills. those skills are basically a must. on top of that you are required to have immediate knowledge of vanilla javascript and jquery.

  32. 032 // Elsewares // 01.07.2014 // 6:24 AM

    While web standards and better browsers may have killed the purely HTML/CSS based jobs, commoditization is a much bigger issue than that. I’ve had more than one client (or potential employer) ask if programs like Dreamweaver (or services like Squarespace) hadn’t obviated the need for web developers altogether. Even among my friends, using a platform like Wix remains a viable alternative for a basic site.

  33. 033 // Jens O. Meiert // 01.07.2014 // 6:43 AM

    Being part of the community and this development for about 15 years, my perspective is slightly different.

    First, I think Jeffrey’s work at the time was necessary, but the cult around him is not. Most of the time people end up, possibly inadvertently, admiring the marketing. But this all deflects from other people and events that we should consider. So we could, but that’s just one example, call out the team behind the Web Standards Project [1] and the developers supporting it. If one wants to single out any events then we mostly look at those that saw competition emerge: long-needed competition on the standards level through the WHATWG (2003/2004), and more powerful competition in the browser market with Chrome (2008).

    Then, I agree with the observation that there are no standard “gurus” anymore. But I think the reason is found elsewhere: it lies in the standards themselves. Beside much improved support we’ve reached a level of complexity that we just didn’t have back ten or even five years ago. CSS 1 had 53 properties—CSS 3, still going strong, about 300 [2]! With the complexity that this means (as well as spec fragmentation [3], another problem) there’s almost no way that someone can be a “guru.” Maybe Ian is for HTML; but Tab then, the most prominent CSS editor, even acknowledged himself not to be an expert at “all of it” [4]. It appears not to be possible—we need to look at “sub-gurus” and generalists.

    So overall I think we owe it to competition that we got our act together when it comes to better quality of and better support for standards, but to complexity that there’s no one around anymore who knows it all. Though I myself am simplifying a bit too now. :)

    [1] <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>](ht… [2] <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>… [3] <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>… [4] <a href=”“ rel=”nofollow”>…

  34. 034 // Ben C // 01.07.2014 // 1:22 PM

    I am reminded of a statement many know: “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

    I disagree with the sentiment that a strong HTML/CSS Guru is all but dead now… in fact, I see the exact opposite in the work place versus what is being described here. IE still has gotchas, Firefox still has gotchas, and Safari vs Chrome still has different rendering behaviors.

    Web standards are far from ‘won’, but it is a better place than 5 years ago. So, having someone that not only understands HTML/CSS, but knows most gotchas, the conditional browser statements, and quick workarounds, not to mention understanding media queries and responsive as a concept are still highly sought after commodities.

    5 years ago, my title was “Graphic Designer”, and I was expected to handle a print job in the morning(300 DPI, CMYK, with an 1/8th inch bleed please), design out a website at noon, code an email in the afternoon, and finish by coding a website in the evening.

    5 years ago, it was expected of me, to be competitive in the marketplace, to know 5 disciplines to even get a job.

    Today? My title is “Front-End Dev and Email Marketing Guru”. I’m handed finished designs and provide clean/tiny responsive code in a quick fashion; CMS-ready of course.

    From what I see, as time progresses.. you COULD get a really kick ass layout person and insist they learn CSS and they give you bloated giant code based off someone else’s grid system and is impossible to mod on the field due to bloat…. or you get a front-end guru who is handed a beautiful design, writes tiny, semantic-driven, SEO-friendly, responsive-ready HTML and delivers sites that are 1/10th the size.

  35. 035 // Jean // 01.07.2014 // 1:29 PM

    The problem with guru is that they spent their time evangelizing, not coding. That´s realy honorable, but, as anything, you can ´t excel if you don’t practice. Back in the days I was à dwarf compared to them, now I’m a way better programmer (by several order of magnitude) than Zeldman or Meyer, my skillset is way broader and my portfolio much more impressive… I don’t know what to think of it…

  36. 036 // Ben C // 01.07.2014 // 1:43 PM

    That’s an evangelist, not a guru…. a Guru sits and learns, tinkers, and deconstructs and figures out HTML and CSS based off the spec given versus the reality of the web as it is. An evangelist takes the spec and touts it as holy work and goes around trying to promote it;convert the masses, even as far as trying to convert browser manufacturers to the spec.

    This is why Gurus are able to get jobs and Evangelists have to fall back on other skillsets :)

  37. 037 // Hat W // 01.08.2014 // 7:26 AM

    This reminds me of somewhere we’ve been before… Oh yeah…

    I’ve been doing this stuff since 1996 and every few years we go through a cycle of “OMG the whole industry is changing!” It does, and most of us morph a bit and go on. Those who are very good continue to find work, those (like me!) who aren’t, but who are stubborn, add skills or find a new webby love and passion (and ultimately count the skills that are no longer useful — I have a list of those). In the end, the guys in the shop know I’m the one to ask when something goes wonky in their css or when their responsive design doesn’t quite respond. On the other hand, I’m yammering at them when my PHP blows up.

  38. 038 // Ben // 01.08.2014 // 9:13 AM

    First comment is perfect… “It sometimes pains me to see people stubbornly sticking to just the HTML/CSS skillset, when it’s clear that whilst you have to be good, you don’t have to be that good to handle the full stack.”… Sounds similar though

    It’s 2014, and kids are doing flash things with plain javascript They are the new guru and have too much very complex work to do to talk about it

  39. 039 // Dave // 01.08.2014 // 4:58 PM

    When I was a boy, there were people who made a living at tuning and fixing radios and TVs. (Yes that was before Television was generic. I was 6 years old before I saw my first TV. I also know it was invented in the 1920s by Philo Farnsworth.) As technology marches on we are going to watch our current skillset become less useful. I no-longer program in binary or assembler and have set my skills at FORTRAN, DIBOL and BASIC on the back burner. My first CSS was a scripting language for the Interdata (later Perkin-Elmer and last I heard Concurrent). I use almost none of that any more. I have moved on. I see our current skillset becoming obsolete in the not-so-distant future.

  40. 040 // Josh Nichols // 01.09.2014 // 8:39 AM

    I’m talking about the person who gets Photoshops comps from a designer, uses HTML and CSS to convert them into web-like documents, and then hands that work off to a developer, who makes the app work, using both front and back end programming.

    I am surprised that the “front-end developer” has lasted this long. That is what a designer should be doing. Markup is not that tough. It wasn’t that tough 10 years ago. You have to know how the medium works and its limitations in order to design for it.

    I have never gotten PSD comps that were more than a look or feel of a single page. They don’t take into account how things work or function or what happens outside the artboard. Now with responsive design, PSDs are even less relevant.

    The markup is the design.

    The Web design process has changed and “front-end developer” is obsolete. It is and should have always been a “designer” position. It is a visual medium.

    Sure, we still need HTML/CSS gurus pushing the boundaries, but all the gurus I know about make their stuff look good too.

  41. 041 // Laurence // 01.10.2014 // 3:24 AM

    I disagree… its true that so many people with little skill can create websites that “look good” (because the browser interprets it fine now as you say), BUT take a look at the code and its awful. Its still non-standard, it would have low marks in Google Page Speed optimisation and other similar tools, it would not be optimised, etc. etc.

    There are SO MANY important skills to have to ensure a good quality website build, that there are still gurus out there.

    The real issue is that people who don’t understand HTML/CSS (i.e. customers!) don’t know about all this, they just see a “good looking website” and think WOW great job! (even though its a 30 minute cobbled together WP template site).

    What is important is that we web gurus educate people in that the way a site looks is not what makes it great, its the coding behind the scenes that matters.

  42. 042 // Andre // 01.11.2014 // 8:36 PM

    When shops pop up offering PSD to HTML for a few hundred bucks, it’s shown how times have changed.

  43. 043 // Jean // 01.12.2014 // 1:28 AM

    I am an early middle-aged, “obsolete”, “unemployable” American, former Visual C++ front-end developer. Except for a tiny job for a long-time client, I have not been able to transition even to Winforms. And when I considered getting into web work, I saw such Tower of Babel polyglot of stacks & languages, that I just threw in the towel, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and become an English teacher abroad (with some students doing the offshore development work that has put me out of work!)

  44. 044 // Jan // 01.12.2014 // 4:01 AM

    All of this sounds very depressing. I’m one of this so-called ‘generalists’ who spent years and years trying to learn to code good HTML / CSS together with skills in proffesional graphic design. After I finally reached a point when I can find continuous work both full time and as freelancer it seems that new developments in web may wipe this opportunities from the map.

    BO’s, and other potential clients will always try to find a way to set up their websites with minimal costs, both in time and money, and new standradization may go hand in hand with decreasing costs off setting up the website. Soon we will have a lot of HQ web services for automated web builidng, and most of small-to-medium businsess won’t bother with paying some coder 1000$ for websites, which might over time be easy to build as your facebook page.

    Even today you can just buy some professional wordpress template, then go to fiverr get someone to set up the page and you’ll have great standard-complaiant CMS-based website in under 100 $ in one afternoon.

    Maybe i’m too pessimistic, but I believe in the power of negative thinking :-).

  45. 045 // joan // 01.13.2014 // 7:55 AM

    Now that single-page web applications abound, quite some of the MVC tasks have moved from the backend to the frontend. So now it requires frontend developers to think and code as programmers especially software engineers. So may it be time that we hire frontends from computer science graduates and ask computer science-related questions in the interview?

  46. 046 // Dan // 01.14.2014 // 9:02 AM

    I think we are facing different challenges. Anyone can know html but not everyone knows the standard, semantics, accessibility, the engeneering of the front with the back… I think for now and probably for while there is room for a front end guru in any large enough team.

  47. 047 // seyilicole // 01.22.2014 // 2:36 PM

    As Dan said we are all facing challenges….people can say HTML5 is very easy to understand , but to me its not easy because it changes every time especially the codes….. when it comes to validation…. the validating companys brings out new codes you will never think off ….

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