Opinions & Insights

5 considerations when choosing a frontend framework

An image with the number 5 to portray the 5 considerations when choosing a frontend framework

Opinions & Insights

5 considerations when choosing a frontend framework

An image with the number 5 to portray the 5 considerations when choosing a frontend framework

As a developer, selecting a frontend framework is a big decision. Especially because it’s rare that any one framework is the best for every job. In a pinch, people tend to default to what they’re used to, or what a peer recommends them, but this could be a regrettable choice. New frontend frameworks—with innovative functionalities—are launched frequently. Other, more longstanding frameworks have unique benefits too. So where do you begin? How do you narrow your search?

In this article, we’ll detail some important things to consider when selecting a frontend framework for a new project. Alternatively, this article may help you evaluate switching from your current framework to another that may be a better fit.

5 considerations when choosing a frontend framework

We’ll break down how to choose a framework into five areas:

  1. Community presence and popularity
  2. Learning resources and documentation
  3. Project use case
  4. Features
  5. Developer experience and overall usability

Let's get started.

1. Evaluate each framework’s community presence

Sometimes the popular framework isn’t always the best one. But it can be. Frameworks that have passionate users often have extremely active online communities. Active communities can help developers find solutions to unique problems—no matter how experienced you may be.

If you’re just starting out, these communities contain treasure troves of questions answered by fellow developers who’ve already overcome your particular challenge. Even the most experienced developers sometimes turn to communities to pose complex questions to complex challenges. Which makes sense. Where else do you turn when you’re seemingly the first person to encounter something unusual or experimenting with something new?

Remember, the most popular framework doesn’t necessarily have the most active community. In other words, be sure to browse framework communities before making a final decision. After all, it may be the difference between getting the support you need and not.

As an example, while writing this post, Astro’s Discord has almost 5,000 online members.

2. Compare each framework's learning resources and documentation

When comparing frameworks, those with robust and regularly updated learning resources and documentation can really tilt the scale. Let’s be honest, web development is complex work. And those who push the boundaries are more likely to run into issues that need remedying.

Whether you have a specific challenge to overcome or you’re looking for inspiration for something new, browsing a specific framework’s documentation would be wise. Specifically, be on the lookout for guides that help you complete specific projects, configuration docs, and reference architectures so you can remove any false starts from your future.

Even more helpful, is when frontend frameworks include example code for projects within their guides so you can see how others build sites and apps with the framework.

3. Determine what you’re building and evaluate the use case

These days, frontend frameworks are pretty versatile and can be used effectively for many different projects. That said, some frameworks have differences that may make them better for one project over another. For example, you may not choose to use the same framework to build your scrollytelling website as you would your ecommerce store or your web application.

We’d also suggest evaluating it from the perspective of how the site or application is going to be used. What we mean by that is that you may want to choose a framework that supports static site generation for a simple marketing site, whereas you may consider a frontend framework with server-side rendering for a web application that uses authentication (for example).

While this ultimately comes down to features, it’s important to pinpoint exactly what you’re trying to build and what you want it to do before selecting your framework.

4. Consider what features you may need

Now that you’ve likely created a shortlist of frontend frameworks with lively communities, strong and regularly updated documentation, and you know exactly what you’re trying to build—it’s time to evaluate features.

Let’s consider what functionality you may need to build an effective news website, ecommerce store, or web application.

  • News website: A news website has data changing frequently. New articles are being posted multiple times a day and this requires greater flexibility to get the job done cost-efficiently. In this case, you may want to consider a frontend framework that employs on-demand incremental static regeneration (ISR). ISR enables you to use static-generation on a per-page basis, without needing to rebuild the entire site. Next.js is a great framework for this.
  • Ecommerce store: When building an ecommerce website, speed is the name of the game. Because faster load times mean higher-converting shopping experiences, Islands Architecture from Astro is a great choice. With Islands Architecture, through something known as partial hydration, you can create separate islands of interactivity alongside static HTML for faster loading.
  • Web application: No one likes a clunky web app with slow load times. One way around this is with Nested Routing. Remix does a really great job with this. When a URL matches multiple routes, Remix will load the required data and assets for all matching routes in parallel. By doing this, Remix effectively sidesteps the conventional pitfall of chained request sequences.

While these are just three examples, it’s important to note that some frontend frameworks do things better than others. And it’s up to you to evaluate the best framework for the job. If you’re ever in doubt, reach out to an expert for help.

5. Test and evaluate the developer experience

Developer experience is extremely subjective. As you could probably guess, people have varying opinions about what matters most to them—shocker. A great place to start when evaluating developer experience is by asking yourself this question: How easy is it to get started?

Frontend framework builders and communities understand that rarely do people want to recreate the wheel. When business outcomes are expected faster than ever before, it’s important that you only need to build what’s unique to your business—and leave the rest to templates.

Beyond templates, it’s a good idea to review what plug-ins are readily available. Frontend frameworks that easily integrate core web vitals, analytics, SEO, and other functionalities will significantly make your life easier.

Lastly, how well does the frontend framework play with others? Of course, you’ll need to host and launch your website or application somewhere. Figuring out which platform works the best for your framework is paramount.

The Netlify Platform is compatible with whatever frontend framework you choose

Flexibility and choice are top priorities for many developers. That’s why the Netlify Platform is built to support any framework you prefer. What’s more, is that we’ve built platform-level primitives so you never have to sacrifice functionality. Rather than functionality existing at the framework level—as we described above—you can enjoy things like Image CDN (and the other features mentioned above) at the platform level, with any framework.

Happy frontend framework hunting!

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