You don’t need React for building websites


Here’s what I think: if you are building websites, you don’t need React (in most cases).

I have been building websites for over nine years now. As I get more experienced, I use fewer libraries and frameworks and rely on good old HTML, CSS, and vanilla JavaScript. I think you should consider doing the same.

My rant about React

Ever since React came to the stage, I’ve been hearing, reading, and watching how great it is. I had a few attempts to learn it, but I failed every time. It is fair to say that I don’t understand it, so I cannot even rant about its features, shortcomings, or flaws.

What I can rant about is the hype. I mean, it’s not even hype after all these years. It is a necessary evil. Of course, I am exaggerating here, but maybe not.

I feel like 9 out of 10 job ads for a frontend developer mention React.

I don’t get it. Why would I need to use React if I am supposed to work on building websites? Are employers afraid that if you don’t know React that you wouldn’t be able to make a landing page? Would knowing React help you solve any problems when creating a new layout or template? I cannot think of any part of the website that would require React.

All these questions made me realize that I don’t need frameworks for my everyday work.

There might be a solution

Instead of adding React to every frontend job ad, employers should emphasize HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and accessibility skills. These four amigos are the only thing you need to make websites perform well, achieve a solid SEO score, and allow every user to consume the content.

Brad Frost wrote about front-of-the-frontend. Chris Coyier wrote about the great divide. I agree with both of them, but I would make the following distinction: web app developer and website developer.

The web app developer does need React or similar frameworks.

The website developer doesn’t need React or similar frameworks.

Of course, there are exceptions, but I am talking in general here.

I am in a situation where I don’t need to apply to new positions and choose my employer often, but I keep my eye on job ads frequently. I sympathize with developers who are capable of building solid websites but struggle to find a job because of the lack of React skills. I know at least one person who would be thankful if React skill wouldn’t be listed so often — a friend of mine (and my mentee) with whom I share the office these days.

I propose a simple solution: if the job is about building sites, please stop adding React as a required skill unless absolutely necessary. It might be helpful to use the website developer term, too.

Conclusion

Knowing React could only make you a better developer, and I am not saying you shouldn’t learn it. However, I am saying that it is not needed in most cases if your goal is to build websites.

I hope more people would realize how powerful HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are and that these come with the most features that you’ll ever need for building a website. Simpler is usually better.