Understanding front end engineering excellence: pop the top, and you get to see it all

Right now, I’m doing a bit of, “Code review,” on some companies. The awesome thing about my limited understanding of front end engineering is that I can pop the top and see what’s underneath, to a certain degree. This enables my biased POV to achieve some degree of understanding: Who are you targeting? What tools are you using? Does IE 6 still matter? Is Load Speed a KPI you measure via RUM or not?

Yesterday, I saw one company that was an out and out savage with regards to front end engineering. Sure, I can’t see the framework, the back-end that produced this incredibly awesome goodness…but I was floored. So few companies get it, when I saw their code, knew what tools they are using, (RUM, #FTW), I literally had to learn more. I get it: I’m a marketer, through & through: but nothing I produce matters if the engineers aren’t freaking geniuses, front end and back end.

How would you, as a marketer, grade FE excellence?

I’ll answer the question because I asked it. The way I measure is pretty simplistic and shows how, despite some technical background, this is NOT my forte:

  • Accessibility to screen readers…I ran a social network for years that had a top 100 member who used a screen reader; also, personally, I had a friend growing up in my early teens who was blind. Whenever I think about the federal, government mandated rules on this topic, I think of him. I don’t know about others, but the idea of letting down friends or family f!@#king kills me.
  • Pagespeed, yslow, or webpagetest – just like on 280 in the bay area, every prospect will feel immeasurably better when you are fast
  • Code quality…I get it, I’m being 100% nit picky here. But as one of the few marketers I have met in my career that understands RFC translates to, “Request For Comments,” even after the facet becomes part of the official HTTP spec…maybe, you’ll give me some leeway.

Selfish plug here: I wrote this because I saw two companies FE excellence this week. One was an out & out savage; I would bow down and worship at their code review alter if I could. The other…well, I have lunch next week and they seem cool. But when I popped the top, they were not the savage I expected.

Do not take this, or any other post, the wrong way: I am driven by KPI’s, the notion of a, “GSD quota,” moves me like nothing else. I am a marketer first & foremost; despite a few years slogging away in Perl, PHP and RoR, I know that’s not what moves me. I love the engineers I have worked with; past and present. If you as a reader take anything away from this post, it’s that FE engineers are awesome and they only do the kind of epic work you expect when they know you, as a manager, feel it. If I could, I would totally retrain & reclassify myself as a FE engineer. They literally make or break start-ups, enterprises and everything in between.