From backend to frontend

I have been a full-stack developer for about 4.5 years.
My work is on backend more than 80% of the time.

Now I am looking for a new job, and I am thinking about doing a change in my career: which is to find a job that has at least 70% orientation to frontend.

Because I feel that I like UI/UX a lot more than data and backend logic. And also I am a visual kind of person, I like designing things, creativity, and building stuff that users see and use.
I also love designing in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Is there any risk on doing that?
Giving up a lot of the backend knowledge that I have (Java, Spark, Node.js, Scala, Redis, Postgresql, Dockers, and more and more…)

Is it a bad decision to leave all that backend knowledge, only to do something that I think is more fun to do?

I think it may be a pay cut more so if you want to do web/ux/ui design. Front end is paid a bit less because most of the juniors get their start in Front End since it has less barriers to entry.

If I was backend, I wouldn’t do it (I do front end right now). Backend has paths towards DevOps or Solutions Architecture. I don’t really see a path from front end besides full stack/back end and maybe mobile dev.

But that’s me, you may not enjoy that stuff.

If you’re passionate about web design and UI/UX I would try to at least balance out server/browser-side work 50/50.

I worked for a software company that builds educational apps and required creative interfaces with colorful graphics, avatars and animations. Only one of the six developers was really good with any of those things, and he did most of the work that went into production. Because of this deficit, the company hired two graphics designers to create assets for the apps. However, they did not know how to write the front-end code involved with driving the graphics from program achievements.

A front-end developer who has a good eye for design layout and themes, is good with css/sass and canvas, knows how to use professional graphics applications well and also understands all the software development principles is hard to come by. There are many front-end developer jobs on that pay 100k+.

If you have a good portfolio, with some patience, you can probably get a mid-level to senior front-end role.

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Based on how long you’ve been working as a developer, I’m guessing that you haven’t changed jobs much. Honestly, it’s pretty common for your focus to shift around from job to job. It’s totally 100% fine and normal to tell interviewers “I mostly worked on the backend at my last job, and I’m looking for an opportunity to do more frontend development. I’d also like the opportunity to be involved in the design process.” When it comes to getting the most opportunities, I do recommend continuing to apply for jobs that call themselves “full stack” as well as jobs that call themselves “front end” or “UI”. That means that you will still be keeping some of your skills fresh and can have the confidence of experience in some areas despite being less experienced in UI development.

My advice is to pick a frontend framework and learn it pretty well. Make a project or two that is planned and designed by you (in other words, not a tutorial style project). Since you already have JS experience from working in Node, that should get you in a good position to apply for a wider variety of jobs.

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