AI Series Part 1: AI impacted 10x our productivity in Front-end development.
A picture of Jan who is the one being interviewed in this article

Read Time 4 Min


We deep dive into AI and how the inflow of new AI-based tools has (positively) impacted our work in Front-end Development.

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We are excited to start the new year with the restyling of our newsletter "Asking &why: rethinking benchmarks in design, branding and innovation". In this new edition, we are going to delve into a variety of topics we work on with our clients and across multiple departments. In this first episode, we deep dive into AI and how the inflow of new AI-based tools has (positively) impacted our work in Front-end Development.

Q: Why did you choose front-end development as a career? Do you have any issues with backend developers?
My path into front-end development was motivated by my interest in the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Learning how people use software and how computers can solve people’s problems. This interest led me to become a UX designer at a robotics company, where I played a key role in designing interfaces for robot control systems. However, as time passed, I noticed that the distinctions between front-end and back-end development were becoming less strict. Frameworks like Next.js and React have expanded the possibilities in front-end development, making me not call myself a front-end developer anymore, but a full-stack web developer.

Q: How has your job changed over the years?
As I moved forward in my career, there's been a significant shift in my role – from being heavily involved in coding to taking on a leadership role. This change is not just about managing tasks; it's a big shift in how I see my role in the team. As a leader, I concentrate on building a diverse team and creating an environment where we collectively envision and develop outstanding digital products.

Jan's development skills are matched only by his talent as a sommelier - he's indeed responsible for the wine selection at our team events

Q: Now, we can see that everyone is going crazy about generative AI. How does it fit into your work?
I remember the shift vividly, around last January or so. We’ve been monitoring AI for a long time but it was quite impressive to witness what these models could suddenly accomplish. Up until then, the real world applications were rather limited, and this has really opened up many minds and opportunities. This new AI development has turned tasks that used to take days into quick and efficient processes, making us 10x more productive, and the most powerful aspect is the level of approachability, meaning that it’s accessible to (almost) everyone, and understandable by developers as a whole, rather than only domain experts who used it to simplify certain narrow tasks. The challenge for us is now to funnel this massive potential into avenues that are really beneficial for our clients and our team, integrating these new capabilities in our internal workflows. I think of AI more as something that needs to be integrated in our current way of working and enhance that, reducing the redundant tasks and repetitive work, freeing up developer’s time to focus on complex challenges, things that move the needle and create new benchmarks.

Q: Could you give us a tangible example?
I am currently working on a proof of concept. The goal is to create high-quality, customizable content websites very quickly. Currently, we need to do a lot of manual steps to set up a new website project, from creating the Github repository and Vercel project (Vercel is our hosting platform) to theming our component library and content elements. Depending on the project, this can take up to 2 weeks. Now, the current developments in AI allow us to do all that in a smart and visual way. We basically just tell the model (e.g. GPT) to create the Github repository for us, to theme the component library according to the brand design, and so on. Of course, there’s a bit more to it as the model has no idea how to do those things initially, so we need to build on top of its API. The cool thing is, once the initial work is done, anyone at &why can set up our super solid foundation website with a few sentences, no coding experience required. On top of that base website, we have more time to build more interesting features such as 3D and interactive experiences. This example summarizes the power of AI pretty well, I think. For one, AI makes us more productive with the things we do well already, and second, we can now take on challenges which would have been quite overwhelming a couple of months ago.

Q: Alright, moving on to the next question, with the world increasingly leaning towards AI and low-code solutions, why do you think we still need developers?
It's a fair question as the “replacement” fear is real, as in you need to constantly train, learn, and embrace new technologies in such a fast-paced environment. To us at &why, in a world increasingly leaning towards automated solutions and AI, the role of developers remains important: we see AI as a tool that enhances our capabilities, rather than replaces us. We see AI as a bridge between a great concept and a complex product. Combining technical understanding with low-code solutions makes our role even more powerful! We’ll keep building courageous products with whatever innovation we can responsibly, and with an impact, integrate.

Q: Reflecting on 2023, is there anything specific that you find particularly challenging or interesting in your work?
Yeah, definitely. We’re currently building a large B2C event ticketing platform which is probably the most interesting yet challenging. A while ago, we shifted our strategic focus from building just content websites to creating digital products. Specifically, working on the event or guest experience involves designing and developing entirely new features, from ticket purchase to improving the CX of the event itself. It's more complex, with a lot of user interaction and integration of various systems. This shift presents challenges outside our comfort zone, requiring the team to find solutions collaboratively. It's both interesting and challenging, making it the most notable project in the last year and something I look forward to working on this year.

What are your thoughts on AI and technology applied to development? Let us know in the comments or shoot us an email at Happy to chat! Stay tuned for the next episodes of “Asking &why?” by subscribing here: 💫