UI Designer Vs UI Developer – What’s The Difference?
Getting the hang of design abbreviations – UI, UX, and others is tough enough on its own. Understanding the math behind main designer job roles – UI front-end developer, UI designer, UX designer, etc. is yet a tougher nut to crack. In this post, we will be looking at the responsibilities of UI creators – user interface designers and developers. You will find out how these roles UI Designer vs UI Developer are different from one another, which one is more important for your team, and get tips on hiring professionals in both fields.
What Is UI Design?
The user interface is a part of the software that ensures all controls and features are presented to a user in an intuitive, enjoyable way. It’s the part of the design that makes your website or app an ‘eye candy’ – fonts, pictures, animation, colors, shapes, etc.
Speaking of high-quality user interfaces, people often mention the word ‘intuitive’. Indeed, a good UI design is like a good joke – it should be understandable with no explanations. A UI designer should come up with an intuitive, easy to maintain, and fast to load page design.
Usually, UI professionals handle the following tasks
- Design research (evaluating the quality of designs competitors offer and establishing industry best practices);
- Branding – creating a list of brand fonts, colors, designing the logo, etc.
- UI prototyping – mapping the interface out in detail so that it can be tested against a focus group;
- Interactivity and animation – coming up with effects and designing CSS animations
- Interface adaptation – ensuring the platform is suited to mobile devices or different screen modifications;
- Collaborating with the development team and overseeing the implementation of the interface.
This is a generic description of basic UI skills. The skillset of a professional you hire can vary depending on whether it’s a user interface designer or a developer.
UI Designer vs UI Developer – The Difference
As the name suggests, both professionals handle user interfaces. However, it’s clear that a designer approaches building interfaces as a work of art, prioritizing the look of elements over technical functionality. A UI developer, on the other hand, is a technical specialist who uses markup, styling, and front-end programming languages to build interfaces and integrate them with the back-end.
UX Designers Duties and Skills
- Using graphic editing software to design interface elements
- Creating a brand book that features all fonts and color schemes used for design
- Making interactions and animations
- Creating interface prototypes on paper or via graphic editors
- Excellent command of graphic editors – Abobe PS, Illustrator, Sketch, and others.
- Experience in using prototyping and wireframing tools – AdobeXD, Sketch, and others
- User empathy – getting to know the audience, understanding customers’ needs
- Solid understanding of typography and color theory
- Basic understanding of front-end development tools and languages
It is $64,000 on average according to PayScale.
Designing individual interface components – buttons, visuals, text elements, and others
UX Developers Duties and Skills
- Performing test runs of the current interface
Achieving the balance between the aesthetics and the functionality of the tool
Building reusable code-based design elements
Optimizing designs to increase loading speed and scalability
- Understanding key UI design principles
Superior understanding of technical SEO principles
Basic command of graphic design tools
Experience in improving design responsivity and adaptiveness.
It is about $72,000 according to PayScale.
Ensuring the functionality and performance of the design, integrating it with the back-end.
Who Do I Hire – UI Designer vs UI Developer?
Although both roles share similarities – they both handle the look of the application – the differences are too tremendous to be ignored. As a business owner who’s about to design a website or an app, eventually, you will start wondering if a designer or a developer is a professional that would be helpful for your business.
Keep in mind that there’s no set-in-stone distinction for when you need to work with a UI designer vs UI developer. However, here’s a short guide on choosing the right professional for your interface tasks.
You need to hire a UI designer if
- Your app has no visual identity – logo, brand colors, etc.
- One wants to fully rebuild the interface of the product
- You are a founding-stage startup manager who needs to create a prototype to present to investors.
You need to hire a UI developer if
- Your product needs to scale and you want to ensure the high performance of the existing design
- There’s a ready graphic interface that has to be integrated into the app
- You want to create reusable design components
- One needs someone who can collaborate with the design and development team.
As for the demand in the industry, UI developers are generally more sought after. According to Computer World, the front-end developer role ranks 6th in the list of most in-demand IT professions. That is likely why the median salary of a front-end UI developer salary is slightly higher than that of a freelance designer or the one who works in a UX design firm.
Tips on Hiring UI Designer vs UI Developer
If you are not well-versed in UI design or development, assessing candidates’ skills and running job interviews might be a little tricky. The good news is, there are telling signs that help business owners determine if a professional they are considering has the needed skillset to help the company reach its goals. As you hire a UI designer vs a UI developer, make sure to take these tips into account.
Tips for Hiring UI Designers
- Determine your goals. The first step to matching candidates successfully is to determine your business’ high-priority tasks. Do you have a ready brand book and a visual identity and are looking for a person to execute your vision? Or do you, perhaps, need someone with a knack for ideation, willingness to research the market and elaborate on positioning strategies from scratch? Depending on your answers to these questions, different candidate skills will be important.
- Choose candidates who are committed to research. A good design is not the one you and a designer consider good-looking, but the one that brings conversions and resonates with end-users. When looking for a UI creator, choose a person ready to research best industry practices, and trends – this way, your design will be data-driven and have a better shot at increasing conversions.
- Look through the portfolio. You want to make sure your candidate has different types of designs in the reel (both desktop and mobile), that she pays attention to typography, color balance, and contrast, and visual consistency.
- Find someone who has data to back up creative decisions. If you ask a candidate how a design performed and he has nothing to say, it’s not the right professional for the team. At the end of the day, you want to ensure that a designer is critical about his work and tracks its performance, rather than publishing whatever interface he considers effective.
- Look for people who are willing to handle maintenance. The UI design is ever-changing – make sure a professional you are in touch with is ready to adapt the interface according to the changes in trends and technologies. For instance, if a new device hits the market and becomes popular, you need to be able to make the UI fit a different screen modification.
Tips for Hiring UI Developers
- Look for candidates with a good command of security. Front-end is one of the most exploitable parts of every application. There are plenty of ways to use design vulnerabilities to access the website. That’s why business owners need to hire UI developers who are well-versed in the latest security practices – HTTPS protocols, SSL certificates, and others.
- Your candidate should understand the basics of software testing. Design testing is crucial for user acceptance – a UI developer is a part of the quality assurance process. When screening candidates, prioritize people with the knowledge of test-driven development, as well as the main stages of the software development lifecycle over those who lack the competencies.
- Good working habits matter. Since UI development is all about ensuring scalability and performance of app designs, ensure that your next hire treats code readability seriously. A UI developer should know how to write modular and clean code and annotate it properly.
- High-level collaboration skills. A UI developer is going to collaborate both with designers and developers. Such a professional needs a good knowledge of management practices, as well as excellent written and spoken communication skills to bring all project stakeholders together and help connect the visuals and the code of the application.
Conclusion – UI Designer vs UI Developer
Interface design is a business owner’s way to make a statement, present the company’s values clearly, and increase brand awareness among website visitors. Both UI designers and developers are a crucial component of your product’s post-deployment success. Analyze the goal of your project carefully to determine which professional suits your needs better. You can consider hiring two specialists simultaneously to create both catchy and scalable, well-performing designs. After all, building a user interface is a long-term investment that’s going to directly impact conversion rates – it’s up to you to make the most out of the project’s UI.