Chris LeCompte Front-end development, design & web project management

Stuff I write about

How Front-end Developers Can Make a Bigger Organizational Impact

November 14, 2017

I have been a front-end developer my entire career. Beginning as an owner of a small web agency, I moved on to join other companies, where I was often the only front-end guy. These were and are great gigs. I’ve contributed to product interfaces, team frameworks, and marketing campaigns.

In being the “only guy” to do front-end, I’ve realized it’s not so great after all. I’ve experienced the Mulder syndrome at times (which isn’t an actual syndrome, but a nerdy reference to The X-Files, where the eccentric protagonist Fox Mulder is exiled to the FBI basement). In other words, I sometimes have felt people don’t care about or respect front-end. It’s a department they realize is necessary, but it’s also a department they don’t want to see.

I think we all know front-end is a valuable role—just as back-end is essential, as well as design, project management, quality assurance, devops, and so on.

But I’ve always been left with that sense that I’m not a real coder, I’m not a real designer, and my job responsibilities fall somewhere between “code this email” and “make this button look pretty.”

How can we make front-end development’s importance more accepted?

It’s not easy. But with a bit of proactive effort on your part, you can turn the front-end department into a valuable resource that has a direct impact on your organization’s goals.Keep Reading

Developing with an Evidence-based Mindset

November 2, 2017

In my senior year of college, I enrolled in a course on evidence-based management. With only five other students in my class, the course proved to be quite the immersive experience into the scientific model. We focused theoretical business decision-making on creating hypotheses, observing our environment, gathering data, and refining our initial guesswork.

At the time, I wasn’t sure what to think of the class. Evidence and business seemed like two very distinct disciplines; one very scientific and formulaic, and the other entrenched in creativity and agility.

The idea clicked with me after I left school. Operating from an evidence mindset is not strictly for science geeks—evidence is critical to every aspect of life, from our personal goals to our job performance.

Evidence-based front-end development (quite a mouthful) has played a huge role in my career. Performing my engineering tasks with a logical thought process that encourages best practices and optimized results has allowed me to execute more precisely at greater speeds.

Below I walk through some of my takeaways from adhering to an evidence-based approach to front-end development.Keep Reading

Life Like a Government

October 13, 2017

I think of life like the government. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron. Since humans organized into tribes, there’s always been a clash between individualism and collectivism. So how can I can possibly equate life to that of a government?

It’s simple. I, myself, am the government/nation, and I organize my thoughts, actions, and plans into different “departments.”

Most governments are divided into smaller entities. Within the executive branch of the U.S. government, we have multiple departments. Each of these groups carry out different missions to achieve goals that impact the health and continuation of the government and nation. Individual life is not much different. We serve ourselves—the government and nation—and to achieve that purpose we must organize our thoughts and actions into logical bureaus of internal interests and outside relations.Keep Reading

Involving QA with the Front-End Development Process

September 25, 2017

Building interfaces is a touchy area. Behind the scenes, you have ever-changing JavaScript libraries and naming schemes that can ripple throughout your application’s architecture. Then you must take into account the multitude of operating environments and the way they render your interface. A user on Windows looking at your application on Internet Explorer 10 must have the same experience as the user on a Mac with Google Chrome.

With all of these variables to manage, implementing a sane quality assurance process can quickly become a nightmare.

To maintain the sanity and to keep our QA folks from skipping town, my company has adopted a number of processes that streamlines software testing.

Keep Reading

Giving Meetings a Little Structure

August 24, 2017

Most people I know hate meetings. They’re long, boring and often unrelated to the tasks at hand. And we’ve all been in that environment where every decision requires a meeting. Meetings just suck the energy and motivation from the office.

But what if I told you meetings don’t have to be so cumbersome?Keep Reading

Increasing Web Project Efficiency with Time Tracking

August 11, 2017

Everyone wishes they could have more time. With extra time, we could get so much more done—finish those long-delayed projects, get more sleep, learn new career skills, read Lord of the Rings backwards (or forwards). But we don’t have the ability to create time. We’re stuck with those finite number of hours per day and nothing’s every going to change with that.

Given how much we value time, why do we allow it to pass so casually? Shouldn’t we track and understand where it’s going?

The obvious answer: yes. Especially for our web projects.Keep Reading

Forcing Myself to Write

July 31, 2017

I’m sitting on the couch, staring at an empty screen. I set out to write something—anything. But my mind went blank. All thoughts circled around the idea of watching YouTube videos or perusing the web. Writing was desired but not necessarily expected.

I want to write more. I used to write a ton—books’ worth of content, actually. However, I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of writer’s disdain.Keep Reading

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

July 19, 2017

How many times have you started a task—or thought about starting a task—only to quit immediately because it seemed too hard? You wouldn’t be alone. I’ve quit many, many things for the simple but dumb reason that it looked like too much work. We all fall into this trap.

The worst is allowing your brain to shut down a task before you’ve even begun. For example, re-designing my personal website has been on my mind for a couple of years now. I’ve thought about it over and over, about all the work that would be required, about the new content I’d need to develop. My brain would register these seemingly endless tasks and then shut me down. It was just too daunting for me to take on a re-design of my site.

So I quit.Keep Reading

Waiting for the Perfect Time

March 29, 2016

I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting. Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting for a friend. Waiting is never going to go away — it’s always going to be there.

But there are things we don’t need to wait on. Creativity, writing, adventures — none of those need to be constrained by waiting. But I do it all the time. I always wait for the perfect time to write a blog post (which, judging by the timestamps of my blog, is an apparent rare occasion…). I say to myself that I need to update my website first, that it must look better, that I must fix some feature before I can write. That’s all bogus. It’s an excuse not to write. And frankly, no one cares. It’s the content that matters, and to create content, you must write.

It’s hard not to wait. Procrastination is threaded within all of us. We rely on waiting to delay the hard work, to be lazy.Keep Reading

Making Email Testing Easier with Grunt.js, Mailgun and Amazon S3

August 3, 2014

After seeing Lee Munroe’s excellent Grunt.js script for automating the email design testing process, I decided to expand on it and fork it over to my development process. Both Grunt and Gulp have made enormous contributions to my workflow in recent months. And when it comes to designing, building, and testing emails, automation is key.

When testing an email campaign, here’s what’s needed:

  • Legacy code that works across email clients (especially Outlook)
  • A place to host images
  • A way to send test emails
  • And, preferably, a tool to render test emails in different environments

Lee’s script handles all of this, from using Handlebar templates for multiple email bodies to compiling Sass and inlining the styles. Mailgun then steps in to send out the freshly created email code to whatever email account you want.

The only modifications I made to this script was to dump Rackspace Cloud Files in favor of Amazon s3. I also added support for image optimization. Here’s the code I added to my Gruntfile:

Keep Reading

More Posts

A brief bio

Working from Northern Virginia, I’ve been designing, building, and managing websites for nearly a decade. I’ve been involved in both large and small projects in multiple industries and fields. Through these experiences, some good—and some bad—I’ve grown to appreciate just what is possible on the web. I’ve coupled my experiences with a degree in Management from George Mason University.

Chris LeCompte 2014–Present

    Front-end web development, design & other cool stuff in the digital identity arena.

    Freelancer Forever–Present

    Web development, design & strategy for tons of awesome clients.

    CXO Advisory 2007–Present

    Complete web and technology management for an investing site I co-run with my father.

    ACS Creative 2013–2014

    The front-end development guy for a small creative agency in Fairfax, Virginia.

    CAVENDO 2006–2013

    Web development, design & web project management – taking care of all the clients at the small web agency I ran with a friend.

Working on cool things