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Pros and cons of outsourcing front-end development

by Svitla Team

February 07, 2020
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Front-end is a very important component of any web project. This is what your users will see. The quality of the front-end will determine whether your system will work or not; users will not be able to launch the system functions from the back-end (take a look at our recent article about pros and cons of outsourcing back-end).
 
The convenience of building a front-end depends on how much you can attract new customers and effectively interact with the back-end and all the necessary systems components. Moreover, the front-end is not only graphic design, but it is also a well-designed user interface, with correctly placed access to the system. 
 
Making the decision to outsource a front-end is an important and responsible idea. Let's see how to approach the task of outsourcing the front-end and making the right choice of a vendor.

What is the front-end?

A front-end is a system component that runs through a browser that can read, display and / or run. The main components are HTML, CSS, JavaScript plus front-end framework.
 
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) tells the browser about the content of the page, transmits text, images, and video’ in general, all content that displays information to users and enters information from the user to the system.
 
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is responsible for displaying elements on the page. To the necessary technology for building a front-end, we add Javascript. This programming language allows you to run a program script on the client-side, which is very important for all web-oriented systems.
 
The front-end framework allows you to rebuild the functionality of the web representation of the user interface and increase the productivity of development. Modern front-end frameworks use Javascript or Typescript for generating forms, graphics, 3D content, video, etc. 

What is front-end development?

Front-end web development is the practice of converting data into a graphical interface using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so that users can view and interact with this data. Front-end development should provide access to all functions of the system and be convenient for all target categories of users.
 
Front-end should provide the following areas of the system:

  • presentation - providing the client with the delivery of all the necessary HTML, CSS and JavaScript to ensure quick site opening
  • interactivity - providing user interaction, input, and output of necessary information
  • availability - front-end should work on the maximum number of devices
  • the ability to switch to new types of standards (for example, HTML version 5)

 
To meet these needs, it is necessary to use the most advanced frameworks and development tools, test automation and continuous integration.

Available front-end frameworks to use with your outsourcing team

Angular

Angular specializes in full-fledged single-page (SPA), and it is really good. This is the brainchild of Google and is also praised by Microsoft and Paypal.
 
The framework is fairly straightforward and strictly imposes its vision of the application on the programmer.
 
TypeScript is used for development, which is more of a virtue than a disadvantage. JavaScript is very flexible, but this flexibility can cause many errors.
 
The main disadvantages of Angular are its size compared to other JS frameworks and the inborn SEO unfriendliness. However, this last drawback can be completely corrected by optimization.

React

It’s not correct to call React a framework; it is rather a library of components for web development. However, its significance is so great historically it cannot be left out. 
It was React from Facebook that introduced the “mod” to component architecture and virtual DOM.
 
Development is conducted on a special version of JavaScript - JSX. This is a mixture of familiar JS with the same familiar HTML. In general, this is a very interface-oriented tool, greatly simplifying the work with a web page in a browser.

Vue

Starting as a project of one Google developer, Vue.js quickly grew into one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks.
 
It is a very flexible tool with a progressive structure that is easy to integrate into existing projects. The component architecture and rich ecosystems allow you to develop complex applications with minimal cost.
 
This web development framework has already earned the recognition of front-end developers around the world.

Ember

In 2015, Ember was named the best JavaScript framework. Four years later,  it is still popular (which is surprising in the turbulent and unstable JS world). The community continues to expand with new features and releases. The tool is used by Google, Microsoft, Heroku, and Netflix.
 
Two-way data binding is available out of the box in Ember, as well as many useful features and components.
 
The main goal of the framework is to maximize developer productivity. To do this, it applies the best programming practices.

Backbone

Backbone is a very light and stylish MVC-like framework for creating SPA.
 
Backbone has only one dependency, the Underscore library.
 
The framework has a rich ecosystem, which in combination with Mustache and Marionette allows you to create full-fledged client applications.
 
For more information please read this article. To get more information about front-end benchmarks please refer to this article.

Why outsourcing front-end development beats in-house

1. Outsourcing of front-end development is more financially efficient.

At different stages of the development of projects, there is a different intensity of work on the front-end. And, of course, it’s not always optimal to keep the necessary number of people on the staff to work in this area. 

 In order to build a high-quality front-end, it is sometimes necessary to have a large team, but once maintaining the system, the command should be compact and effective for quick and high-quality error correction and the development of new functions.

2. Availability and scalability.

A good flexible process with a continuous need for delivery should always have a front-end team in the work cycle. In practice, the architectural design of the front-end is done before development. Having a high workload at the beginning and transferring to the role of quality control before product release is a typical scenario. 

In front-end development, there is an uneven load during the development cycle and many companies find it difficult to cope with the need to increase or decrease the team.  A small team will not always be able to carry out the necessary amount of work.

3. Expertise and experience.

It takes time to build a competent team of front-end developers who will work together efficiently. Very often in projects, there is no time period for this. 

Therefore, attracting an outsourcing resource to build a front-end is a practical solution and has been tested in practice. By attracting a contractor company, front-end development can grow by leaps and bounds.

4. The tasks of building a front-end are well suited to be outsourced to contractors.

In the presence of common sense and a preliminary plan (preferably with developed wireframes), you can quickly transfer the task of manufacturing the front-end.

Moreover, the back-end and front-end teams almost always integrate well and make the project stable and effective as long as there is properly established communication and adequate management.

5. Experience in conducting QA and building automated testing systems.

As a separate task, you need to consider QA testing and automated front-end testing. To maintain the integrity of the project, you need to conduct testing in many browsers after each change and clearly monitor the work of the old and new functionality.

Without a set of automated tests, dealing with a large combination of front-end input options is not easy. Therefore, it is necessary to lay resources and time for QA and automated tests immediately at the planning stage.

Main reasons to outsource your front-end development

Transferring the front-end development part of your project has the following advantages:  

1. Meets high user expectations 

The expectations of the user of modern information systems are very high. This applies to both the quality of graphic design and the development of the front-end in general. If you order the development of the front-end part of the project from a specialized company, then you will make the work of your information system quick and your financial resources are efficiently used.

2. Lets you building a skilled and experienced front-end team

Effective front-end development requires great specialization in many different areas, and if you do not produce software, you most likely will not have enough experience or the team-building process will take a very long time. Outsourcing gives you a mixed team of design and technical skills without the need for a large team of your own.

3. Will follow current trends in front-end development

The world of front-end frameworks is now developing faster than ever, and new trends are constantly appearing. Frameworks such as Angular, Vue, and React are constantly updating and adding new robust feature sets. Meanwhile, thanks in large part to React and ReactNative, there is a rapprochement between the web interface and the mobile UX.

4. You still planning and setting goals for the front-end project while having more time to focus on the company’s core competencies.

Front-end is actually one of the most external aspects of the development cycle. For effective outsourcing, you need to identify your core competencies and focus on those that are your strengths.

It is difficult to get a lot of experience in building a front-end if it is not yet an integral part of your organization. Building front-end is therefore not a core competency for many organizations.
While you need to concentrate on the main parts of your project, you can and should outsource the time-consuming but well-defined parts of the project so that you can better focus on other aspects of your business.

However, outsourcing the front-end of your project can have difficulties. What is especially worth paying attention to:

  • clearly specify the task of building a front-end
  • choose the right framework for the front-end
  • make sure that your outsourcing team has the right skills in building a front-end, including architecture, development, and testing
  • do not try to make a good front-end if the back-end part is poorly designed. Front-end and back-end must be balanced and harmonious
  • correctly describe the interaction points of the front-end and back-end

Conclusion

In conclusion, let's note that despite its simplicity and visibility, building a user interface and front-end is a time-consuming task that requires certain skills and specialization. Of course, you can build a sufficiently workable front-end for your project, but the risks and resources you need for this are significantly greater compared to the outsourcing model.

Another important indicator in the front-end part of your project is the high-quality architecture, which will need to be accompanied and developed in the future because the front-end always evolves in the process of developing an information system.

Together with an outsourcing team from Svitla, you can build long-term,  mutually beneficial relations for the development, maintenance, and testing of the front-end for your projects and get a reliable product that works effectively.

by Svitla Team
February 07, 2020

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