This article was written in 2014. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.

Front-end masterclasses are canceled

Together with some excellent and well known front-end and design nerds here in the Netherlands and Belgium I organised a series of masterclasses for medior level front-end developers who want to grow to senior level. Unfortunately I had to cancel these masterclasses. There were not enough registrations. I’m trying to find out why there were so few people who were interested. I’ve thought of some reasons, and I’ve heard a few others from people I asked, but maybe you know a reason I don’t know yet. Please let me know. I’d love to keep organising such masterclasses in the future. Successful ones.

The idea behind the front-end masterclasses

If you look at the job postings on Fronteers you’ll see that most jobs are for very experienced frontenders. I know that there’s an abundance of junior and medior level frontenders, and I also know that there’s a lack of really experienced, senior people in The Netherlands. Instead of looking for them elsewhere, I thought organisations might be interested in offering a good training to their own talent. Every few weeks the attendees would follow a specialised four hour workshop by an expert on the topics of tooling, the flexible, adaptive web, javascript, performance, design en mobile. The price for the whole series was 2700 EU.

Possible reasons why it didn’t work

I don’t think there’s one single reason why we had to cancel. But I’d like to know as many possible reasons as possible. I might be able to solve a thing or two if I were to organise something like this again.

1. Too expensive

This is the Netherlands. We’re known to be cheap. But I don’t simply accept this argument. This is not an insanely high price, especially if I compare it to prices for similar courses for other professions. If you compare it to front-end workshops offered in the Netherlands it could be a valid reason though. We have a non-profit organisation here that offers workshops for a fraction of this price. Maybe we’re spoilt? But then again, those non-profit workshops are not as specialised and specifically targeted as the courses we offered.

2. Certification

Someone suggested it has to do with certification. Companies are willing to pay fortunes for certified developers. There is no certification for front-end developers, so there is no direct urge to educate them. This applies to companies that don’t understand they have a seniority issue. Again, this might apply to some, but certainly not to all companies.

3. Not enough front-end developers

Maybe the masterclasses were too specific and there are simply not enough front-end developers in the Netherlands to fill such a series. This is a valid reason I think, especially in combination with reason 1.

4. People consider themselves senior

Someone suggested to me that front-end developers are an arrogant bunch. They consider themselves to be senior developers already so they don’t need this course. This might apply to some people, but definitely not to everybody.

5. Not enough marketing

I wrote some blog posts, I did some interviews for several magazines. We didn’t just try to reach individual developers, we tried to reach their managers as well. We even did some banner campaigns! But maybe we didn’t try hard enough. Maybe we didn’t reach the right people? I’m not sure how to measure this.

6. Not interesting enough

It could be that the courses were not interesting enough. Quite a few people asked if they could pick a few of the masterclasses. They were not interested in the whole package. Looking back on the program I can think of a few improvements, but I do think that following all courses is a good idea. This will probably not change.

7. Not long enough

Six courses of four hours will not make you a senior developer, that’s for sure. Maybe it should be six full day masterclasses. Again, this won’t make you a senior developer but there will be more time to really dig deep into the subject. On the other hand, an employee who doesn’t do billable work for six whole days may be considered too pricey by some companies.

8. More?

I’m sure there are more possible reasons. Do you know any? Please let me know in the comments so I can try to improve things next time.


    • Wes
    • #

    First of all, it sucks that you had to cancel. It’s never fun to put effort into something and see it fail. I had 3 reasons not to sign up.

    1) I am part designer and part front-end developer and do not recognise myself in a single job title.
    2) I don’t like junior / senior job titles in organisations because they imply a chain of command. I don’t like chains, or commands.
    3) When calculating the price, I found that it was well over €100,- an hour. I could hire people to coach me 1 on 1 for that price.

    Other reasons that I can think of are:

    a) You are targeting junior people, who are probably not the people with the most money. Are they able to spend it out of their own pocket – I doubt it. Are they able to convince their employees – probably hard. They are either in a company without seniors (which.. makes them the senior?) or they are in a company with seniors to learn from.
    b) Unable to commit to 6 dates / days. I know I would’ve found this hard with my normal work schedule.
    c) The front-end market is spoiled by Fronteers. It’s €100,- for 8 hours or €2500+ for 24 hours.

    Some suggestions for future courses:

    – Different naming / framing of the course
    – Webinars instead of actual gatherings
    – Unbundling. I would have maybe bought 1 or 2 workshops instead of 1 big one.

    Good luck :)