Jake Trent

Modern Frontend Dev: User Expectations

Increased user expectations are driving what modern frontend dev entails.

Here are a few things that the modern frontend web developer must concern himself with in order to make the applications that his users desire.

Animations

Animations are now common place. Animations help provide polish for your page, showing real care. They help provide additional feedback that can help communicate intent about what’s happening on your page. They can dazzle and delight.

Animations can also be overused. Adept developers need to be judicious in their use and tasteful in the application of animations. Smooth, no-jank animations is a standard expectation.

Transitions

Transitions describe going from one state to another. This might be from page to page, route to route, or it might be from one on-page state to another. These transitions and states are growing increasingly complex.

Users want feedback about where they are in transitions. Placeholder content is often displayed before real data or layout is completed.

Users want to avoid full page repaints. Browser loading indicators and blinks of white remind the user of the request/response cycle of the web, and it’s not in vogue. Where possible, partial repaints and dynamic, even preloaded, content changes are preferrable.

Speed

Users are more impatient than ever. They are willing to wait for less time, and they have more things to do. People have a lot of choice and alternative information sources and services are easily found. Without quick, easy access to your application, users will choose something else.

If your time to first paint runs long, you risk losing users before the page has even loaded. Efforts to to decrease even the perceived load time are worthwhile.

Responsive design

Today’s device form factors are almost unknowable. There are many devices on the market and more coming all the time. In today’s market, you pretty much know that there will be a rectangular screen of pixels, and that’s about it.

But when a user comes to your app, they’ll just expect it to fit and to work. Effort to make your app flexible and usable across a variety of viewports is expected.

Unpixelated

Many of today’s devices ship with high-density displays, where more pixels are being packed into the space previously used for one. This leads to sharper text and imagery. Now users expect it.

High quality typography is expected. Images tailored to pixel density are common. SVG, scalable vector graphics, are increasingly used to provide always-crisp visuals.

Accessibility

More people than ever need to use the Internet. It’s expected that they’ll all be enabled to use your applications. More and more critical services and experiences have moved to the web.

It’s good to consider others’ needs in the design and implementation of your applicatons. Today, more and more companies and developers are showing their willing to pay that cost.

These are a few things that a user on the web today cares about. What other expectations are there that drive modern frontend dev today?