A UX (user experience) developer is programmer who uses customer insights to create an effective user experience on a website, application or software. From user research, they develop and text wireframes and user flows to design the most intuitive and valuable user experience in line with desired goals or outcomes.
Traits of a good UX Developer
User-obsessed – You’ll be more sensitive and strategic than a front-end developer
Data-driven – To translate analytical data into better user journeys
Human-first – You’ll have the intuition to conceive, create and guide an effective UX
Responsive – User-testing and strategic planning means constant tweaking
Able to apply design to user journeys – To use visual elements to their best effect
Collaborate in a team – You’ll work with front-end developers and design teams, as well as strategists and Account Managers in larger agencies
What does a UX Developer do?
An experienced UX Developer is in equal parts developer, designer and strategist. It’s a relatively new role in modern development which bridges the gap further between development, design and marketing teams.
- Meet clients and understand their goals
- Present web design and UI layout ideas
- Develop website and applications
- Conduct usability tests
- Evaluate data and implement findings
What do I need to learn?
Because of its relatively new appearance in the tech team, there aren’t as many straightforward training courses in development: many professionals have come from a design background into development or vice versa. There are plenty of courses available for UX Designers but review them carefully to understand how much development experience you’ll get or need to get the most out of it.
This is because the role of UX Developers varies from platform to platform, and from business to business. There are roles which almost exclusively focus on the digital design and user research and analytics, while most businesses require a complete grasp of software development. What you will discover is that UX Developers have an advanced skillset, often accrued over the years of their professional career, resulting in impressive experience at the convergence of technology, creativity and sociology.
The most successful and valuable UX Developers or Designers will have experience in the following four areas:
Producing attractive and intuitive layouts and visuals will be the fundamental responsibility of your role. You’ll be familiar with UI Design principles, typical platform designs and style guides, to know how you can use visual elements and features, such as graphics, images, illustrations, buttons, forms and layout to create an effective user journey. If you’re the one designing your ideas, you’ll need to be familiar with the design programs like the ones available in the Adobe Creative Suite, such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Illustrator.
Sketching, wireframing and prototyping
These principles and skills will be with you throughout your UX career, so you’ll be well-rehearsed in sketching techniques, wireframing and prototyping practices. Sketching is a key method of visualising each stage of the project, from the initial problems to mapping out the user journey for wireframes and sketching out the interfaces and their purpose ahead of creating your prototype. Wireframing refers to the linear templates used to mock up interface or screen design and helps you plan how different elements will work together in a layout, and map out user flow.
Prototyping is the next step, where you’ll pull together all the findings and decisions from your sketching and wireframing to produce working prototypes of your designs. Invision is by far the most popular and effective prototyping tool, able to produce prototypes for iOS, Android and Web.
Being able to identify problems, produce solutions track how people are using and interacting with your website, app or software is an integral responsibility of being an effective UX Developer. You should be comfortable using tracking and analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, and setting them up in the first place to report on the user activity on your website or application. You will understand how to generate reports into digestible information to present to your teams and wider stakeholders, which will help inform decisions around new initiatives and campaigns.
While a Google search or two will bring up jobs under the title of UX/UI Designer, with the specification detailing the requirement for UX/UI design principles, and sensitivity towards user behaviour needed to produce digital designs for a front-end developer to convert into code, most UX Developer/UX Designer and UI Designer jobs require skills and experience in front-end development. Having the technical skills to convert your layout and design solutions into code to produce the functional user-interface you intended will make you an extremely valued member of any tech or digital environment, with a very attractive salary to match.
Not sure where in a development team you might feel most at home? In our how to guides, we explore the essential traits and skills of the main roles in a software development team. Take a look at what it takes to become a Junior Developer, the entry-level role where most tech careers begin, or take a look at how to become a Front-end Developer.