1 month | 6 minutes

A Day in the Life of a Front-End Developer

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Hi Arnaud, Tim and Lennert! Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get right to it.

Explain in one sentence what it is that you do.

Arnaud: As a front-end developer, we collaborate with product and back-end developers to translate a concept and technical specifications into an accessible user interface.

Tim: I build user-friendly user interfaces so that our customers can get the most work done with the least amount of effort from their side.

Lennert: I help build the Teamleader Focus frontend which our customers and their customers interact with on a daily basis.

Do you remember your first weeks at Teamleader? How smoothly did you settle into your role?

Arnaud: Yes, during my first weeks I spent a lot of time pairing with a senior developer in my team. Everything went super smooth, I learned exponentially, and through our code review policy settled into the team’s practices very quickly.

Tim: The onboarding week was super interesting. I was given an introduction to every department. I found it striking how every single person very passionately talked about their responsibilities, the challenges they're facing, etc. During the onboarding week, I was also introduced to the team I would be a part of. This made it very easy for me to integrate and get started. In my first weeks I took the time to fix some bugs in the codebase. The code I wrote went to production in my first week already which was really cool.

Lennert: Yes! I started a little over a year ago. This was during the first lockdown. I was part of the first fully remote onboarding. Getting to know people remotely wasn’t easy, but Teamleader really made sure I had Zoom meetings with all Product & Engineering colleagues as well as with people from other departments. The team I joined was very welcoming. They gave me the confidence to pick up work and provide value straight away. I’m super happy that we’re now allowed to go to the office again, so I can meet colleagues in real life, for example during lunch.

How do you typically start your day? What does the rest of your day look like?

Arnaud: My day typically starts by looking at my calendar, I’ll check when the major meetings take place, what the current sprint priority is, and decide when I’ll dive into code reviews, help out a team member by pairing or start working on my assigned tasks. While working on tasks it’s possible I’ll have a quick sync with our team designer to discuss certain aspects of the interface.

Tim: We usually start the day with a quick standup with the team to plan the day and see where we can help each other. The first next thing is getting a big cup of coffee before kicking off the day with whatever we planned to tackle.

Lennert: I usually start by picking up code reviews made by colleagues or the automated systems. After that it's time for our daily standup. Then I usually start working on a ticket (we use Jira). During the day we sometimes pair or sync up to find the best solution to implement something. And, of course, we also have the occasional scrum meeting (grooming / demo / retro).

What’s the Development team like?

Arnaud: The development team is a very close-knit team. Collaboration is highly encouraged and it bears its fruits. Integrating into the team is rather easy. Our positive team working ethos especially shows when incidents occur. There‘s a phenomenal sense of shared responsibility, and no blame culture. The team knows when to drop their work and focus on helping out other teams in need.


Tim: The team’s a supportive bunch of very talented people. Everyone’s always open to give and receive feedback and learn from one another.

Lennert: If there's a problem you can always count on us working together to get it fixed or figured out.

Do you feel like there’s enough variety between your days? What is an annoying routine task you have to do?

Arnaud: Every day can look different. Aside from the 2-week sprint rhythm and related ceremonies (daily scrum, grooming, sprint review, retro, planning), you get to plan your days like you want. I guess if I really had to pick a routine task that I dislike the most, it would be manually checking a pull request.

Tim: The variety very much depends on which project you're working on. But even when you're stuck working on one thing you can 'take a break' from it by picking up and fixing a small bug for example to afterwards return to the original project with a fresh mind.

Lennert: Personally yes, I also occasionally touch the backend and there are various projects to work on, so there's plenty of different things to do. We also have a so-called “guild week” every 6 weeks to break things up. During that week we try to improve the current code base or experiment with new tools and features. As for the annoying task: we still have a fair bit of legacy code that sometimes needs maintenance or fixing.


Here's what an average day in the life of a Front-End Developer looks like:

Do you feel like you’re involved in projects which benefit your department and the organization as a whole? Do you feel like you can make an impact in your role?

Arnaud: I definitely feel like anyone can make a difference here at Teamleader, you just need to have the courage to make a point and express your ideas and opinions. Once you get over that hurdle, people will listen. The impact you can make as a sole developer in your department is almost limitless. On an organization level this is somewhat less evident, but certainly not impossible. And we always have people like Steven, our VP of Engineering, to do the talking for us.

Tim: Definitely. As a front-end developer your feedback towards the final implementation of a feature is essential. You have an important role in ensuring the frontend part of a project is feasible and within what amount of time. You also get to chop new features up into smaller releasable parts, so you can get something in the customer's hands as quickly as possible. This probably isn't the full-fledged feature yet, but enough to already bring value to the customer. This allows us to collect feedback and further improve the feature.

Lennert: We can suggest improvements that can be tackled during the next guild week. If it's something more specific to your own team we can also just make a suggestion to the product manager or designer to tackle it. We have 10000+ customers that can see the UI we're building. So yes, I definitely feel like I'm making an impact.


How busy are you? Are you equally busy every day? Do you have a lot of meetings?

Arnaud: All in all, I think as a developer you’re always busy. There is tons of work to do and not enough time to do it, that’s why we constantly have to prioritise. The busiest days are usually when there are sprint ceremonies happening, near the end of the sprint. This is the point in time where you want to finish something you’ve been working on, but it becomes hard to find the focus time to do it. As a regular front-end developer, I don’t have “a lot” of meetings compared to e.g. a team lead. However, I do believe there are still too many meetings in general.

Tim: This very much depends on what you're working on. Regardless though, you'll never run out of things to do :) If you're in the beginning stages of a project you will probably have a lot of meetings as you're gathering requirements and are figuring out how you will solve a specific problem. Once everything gets more defined you will spend more time programming on said project.

Lennert: It depends. Near the end of a sprint we can either be more busy or less busy depending on how well we planned everything. On average there's always stuff to do but I wouldn't say it's too much to handle. Besides the scrum related meetings there aren't so many meetings for us regular developers. Team leads participate in a lot more meetings, so we don't have to.

Which people (both inside and outside the organization) do you work closely together with?

Arnaud: I work closest together with the people from my team, but I occasionally work with people from other departments as well.

Tim: I like the fact that within Teamleader teams are set up across departments. For instance, in my current team we're not building specific new features directly related to the product, but rather trying to make changes to optimise lead intake and lead-to-customer conversion. Since this touches a lot of areas we collaborate with people from many departments such as Support, Sales, Marketing and Design. The previous team I was in was responsible for building a self-service license page where customers have full control over their Teamleader subscription. During that project we were in close collaboration with the Finance team.

Lennert: From more closely to less closely: my direct team members and the product manager, designer and QA; other developers in Product & Engineering; translators / customer support; data analysts; the Go-To-Market team.

Are you receiving adequate guidance? Do you get the necessary freedom and confidence to work autonomously?

Arnaud: There is a lot of guidance and collaboration available inside the development team, anyone can ask anyone questions about certain domains or subjects and expect help in return. I certainly believe there’s also a ton of freedom to how things are tackled and I’m given a lot of confidence.

Tim: We have a review process in place which means that whenever we have a code change ready, a few other developers will review your changes. Through this process we receive and give a lot of feedback and learn through this.


Lennert: If you have questions or problems you can always ask your fellow front-end developers for help. We have a dedicated Slack channel to talk to each other. You can also participate in training sessions that are organised every so often or suggest a training you would like to participate in (there's a budget for that).

Where do you get the most energy from? When are you a happy front-end developer?

Arnaud: After experimenting on things to get a general idea of how to move forward. You can think of it as a first rough sketch that pinpoints the pains of a technical challenge and allows you to focus on those when making your actual drawing. This gives you confidence and a feeling of pride for what you’ve created. Seeing the interface you worked on stand up to the abuse some users throw at it gives me a certain feeling of satisfaction.

Tim: I'm happiest when I'm working on a well lined-out task, meaning the requirements are crystal-clear, and I have a large block of time in which I have no meetings, no interruptions, and can just simply get into a state of flow and get the work done.

Lennert: Just knowing that the UI I help build is used by many people every day already brings a lot of satisfaction. That, and the positive messages shared in our customer-happiness Slack channel when we release a new feature.