With tech literacy among users improving every year, the need for sophisticated, seamless digital experiences has never been more pressing.
Customers will drop a platform or app that isn't engaging them in favor of something that will. Even something as simple as loading times can cause a 4.42% decline in your conversion rate after each second spent loading.
Knowing this, it's time for businesses to start investing in their front end development approach. In this post, we're going to be exploring why front end development matters and how you can improve yours with the right framework.
Why does your front-end development approach matter?
Let's start with the importance of your front-end development approach. With the back-end doing most of the heavy-lifting, it can be easy to write the front-end off as ‘just’ the icing on the cake.
The problem with this mindset, though, is that users spend most of their time interacting with the front-end. It’s what they see and experience. Here's how an app’s front-end shapes a user’s app usage and perceptions.
Users value performance speed more every year
First up, an app’s speed affects the product’s perceived quality in a user’s mind. Computers are constantly getting faster, and we've advanced to a point where fractions of a second are what determine how your app is judged.
People are busy, distracted, and most importantly, used to lightning-fast speeds. To meet these needs and expectations, your front-end needs to keep up.
If it doesn’t, you're going to end up frustrating your users. And it doesn't take a research team to understand that frustrated users don't stay users for long.
Your competitors are just a click away — making speed more crucial than ever before.
The design should answer the users' needs
Next, the design of your front-end should answer your users' needs. It's the piece of your app that is communicating with your users, not the back end.
With that in mind, you can't minimize your front-end development approach to something as limited as "Let’s just make sure it’s easy to use". An app should be easy to use, of course, but it should also communicate that you empathize with and can meet the users' needs.
The design, graphics, and content all play a key role in this. They can quickly answer users' questions, highlight the key features, and establish the workflow that the user will need to follow to use your app effectively.
Intuitive navigation saves time and frustration
A more obvious point on the importance of your front-end development approach is the value of intuitive navigation. An intuitive interface can be navigated and operated with little to no instruction from the developer. It embodies the idea of "It just works".
What makes this a somewhat obvious point is that we've all used frustrating apps before. They waste our time, give us a headache, and make us regret downloading/paying for the app.
A great approach to front-end design can create a great experience for the user.
The better your design and performance, the better your user retention
Lastly, the way you approach front-end development can improve your user retention. As mentioned before, poor performance and design can rapidly cause users to abandon your platform.
A thoughtful approach to front-end development can greatly improve your user retention. It's not only a subconscious improvement on your app but something that users will actively consider when comparing it to competitors.
So, to avoid alienating potential users, you should put just as much care into the design and performance of your app as you do the back-end mechanics.
Modern front-end frameworks: which is right for your build?
Now that you have an idea of why your front-end development approach is crucial to your app's success, let's look at some popular front-end frameworks. Below is a list of frameworks that you've most likely heard of before. We're going to be comparing them against one another and exploring their unique pros and cons.
Let’s look at what is perhaps the most popular front-end framework: React. Also known as React.js, this is Facebook's offering to the world of component-based front-end development.
React is known as a great option for developers, offering everything you need in a package that is easy to get comfortable with. It relies on HTML and JSX coding styles, making it super beginner-friendly.
And since it's one of the most popular, React users will have no trouble finding resources and communities. Overall, this is a great framework to dive into, especially if you don't know where to start.
There are several pros to using React.js — accessibility, in particular. It's a great option for those just getting started. It's also backed by Facebook, which means regular updates, new features, and plenty of documentation to support your work.
The only real drawback to using React is learning the JSX coding style, which might seem unintuitive at first.
Next up is Vue.js. Known for being the easiest front-end framework, this is an incredibly simple framework to get the hang of. This makes it a lifesaver for the less experienced and a breeze for the experts.
Part of what makes Vue.js easy to use is its leanness. It installs in minutes and is immediately ready to go. And it works with plenty of tools, such as testing, debugging, and state manager tools.
When it comes to Vue.js, the core benefit is its ease of use. Anyone can start using this framework right away without any major challenges. The syntax is easy, the detailed documentation will keep you on the right track, and importantly, it's super fast.
Of course, Vue.js isn't without challenges. The community around this framework is still pretty small, which means that running into an issue can cause quite a headache. It also means there isn't as much support or as many plugins as there are with a framework like React.
Alongside being one of the oldest front-end frameworks, jQuery is also one of the most minimalist. It's a trim, old-school solution for creating the front-end of your app or website.
Since it's an older framework, jQuery wasn't built to handle mobile app creation. With recent updates, though, this is beginning to change. If you're a more experienced developer looking for something familiar and elegant, then jQuery is a great option.
The pros of jQuery revolve around its minimalist qualities. It's easy to pick up, doesn't suffer from feature bloat, and getting it to do what you want is straightforward.
However, this simplicity can hold it back for more modern use cases. It isn't as powerful as other options out there on the market, which can result in jQuery feeling a bit sluggish. Not to mention that each year it becomes a little more dated.
If you're looking to modernize your front-end development approach, then few options are going to suit you as well as Svelte. This framework is only a few years old and is already popular among developers with favorable reviews.
This is largely due to its rethinking of how a framework should work. It requires minimal coding, uses a VM instead of a DOM, and runs up to ten times faster than other leading front-end frameworks.
As mentioned, the pros of Svelte are based in its modernity. It feels natural and updated, and by reducing the amount of coding required, it allows you to get things up and running quickly. And when your app is running, it runs fast.
The drawbacks around Svelte are tied to its lack of popularity. This is still a new framework, and as such, there isn't a lot of support for it just yet. That can make it harder for new developers to start using this app.
Here’s a front-end framework that falls somewhere between being user-friendly and feature-rich. Ember.js is an option that intermediate to expert professionals will get a kick out of, with a growing and passionate community surrounding it.
There are plenty of templates available for Ember.js, which can help cut down on coding. And fast server-side rendering means users should have a snappy experience.
Since Ember.js falls in the middle when it comes to being usable and feature-packed, it's for a specific kind of user. If you're looking for a framework that you can be involved in improving and expanding, then Ember.js will give you a lot to work with.
The documentation is expansive and growing, a dedicated community sits behind it, and native tools make it a bit of an all-in-one package.
That said, the all-in-one Ember.js can be a bit unwieldy. It's a large framework, making it slow to get started. And its constant updates and changes can make it difficult for beginners to get the hang of things.
The next framework for your front-end development approach is Angular. It's another older front-end framework, though an incredibly robust one. It's been used as the backbone for applications like YouTube and Google Translate and is relied on by several enterprise sites.
That's actually one of the key use cases for Angular. It can be used for something as simple as a single-page website or as complex as an enterprise-grade application.
The biggest perks of Angular are its technical features and community. Because it's so popular with big-name companies, there's a rich user base for Angular. And with enterprise support comes features like dependency injection and two-way data binding.
On the other hand, the complexity of Angular can make it an intimidating and challenging pick for newcomers. It can even be overwhelming for smaller teams. For that reason, this one is generally best left to large companies and teams.
Backbone.js is a front-end framework designed for web applications. It comes with features such as enriched APIs and customizable event handling. This makes it easy to accomplish complicated workflows within a web app.
Still, if you're building a single-page web app, few options are as well-tailored to this use case as Backbone.js. This allows you to save time coding and to get specific and creative with event handling.
The primary pro of Backbone.js is how well it suits building web apps. The community around Backbone.js is constantly working to make this framework even better for creating apps, and it offers a level of control that you won't find in other options.
Of course, there are two sides to every coin. And in this instance, Backbone.js is a fairly limited tool for building websites. In the case of a website, it's best to use Backbone.js to create the application logic while leaving the interface and design to another framework.
While it's slowly becoming obsolete, there's still plenty of life left in Backbone.js for those who need it.
That brings us to the last item on our list of front-end frameworks, Semantic UI. As the name implies, Semantic UI's strength is its easy-to-read code. It uses an organic syntax style, which makes it very easy to write and even easier to read. If you're still getting comfortable with programming languages, Semantic UI is a great framework to go with.
It also has the benefit of being relatively new to the scene. This means that it's packed with features and support for modern use cases, unlike some of the older options like React and jQuery.
Semantic UI Pros/Cons
Alongside readable code, Semantic UI is also able to integrate with React, Angular, Meteor, and Ember. The community surrounding Semantic UI is still small but very excited, so there are always new themes and features to choose from.
Despite having readable code, though, Semantic UI still isn't recommended to beginners for a few reasons. The small community means there's limited support available, and updates have become fewer and farther between.
Modernize your front-end development approach with a low-code solution. While you're updating your front-end development approach, you can make the switch to a low-code solution like TeleportHQ. It's packed with templates, features, and support to help you get the job done fast.