What Should You Expect From a UX Developer?
UX developers can play critical roles in product development. Oddly enough, some people in the industry don’t know what UX developers do. Many others confuse them with front-end developers and UI designers. The following article will give you a deeper understanding of what UX developers do and how they can help you build great products.
What Is a UX Developer?
UX developers often fill a variety of roles in prototyping and product development. They have excellent communication and critical thinking skills that lead to better, faster product development. They also have the ability to think from multiple perspectives, so they can get inside the head of your target market to anticipate needs.
You can think of UX developers as coaches that help your team members reach their goals by anticipating problems and predicting how the other team will respond.
Essential UX Developer Skills
Many people get confused about the skills that UX developers need to do their jobs successfully. Some don’t understand the difference between a UI and UX developer. Others don’t know how to differentiate between the skills of a front-end developer vs. a UX developer.
Some of the most essential skills required from UX developers include:
- Wireframing that creates a blueprint of the product.
- Prototyping that tests whether products will work correctly before releasing them.
- Information architecture that helps them create intuitive navigation and other features.
- Research to understand consumer needs and how to discover ways that a product can solve problems.
- Visual communication that includes an understanding of layout, color, icons, typography, and other aspects of design theory.
UX Developers vs. UI Developers
UX developers and UI developers often work together to reach a common goal. They do, however, play different roles in product development.
UX developers focus on features that will affect the user’s experience. The UX developer has to get inside the user’s head to understand consumer needs and preferences. They think about questions like:
- Would an auto-complete form benefit users here?
- Should modal pop-ups interrupt the user’s experience to make a task easier?
- Will this landing page convert visitors?
- Do this product’s users prefer horizontal or vertical layouts?
- Will this feature decrease the amount of time clients need to fulfill a task?
UI developers may ask themselves some of the same questions, but they usually think about their work from a design perspective. More importantly, they try to do things like:
- Selecting the colors that guide users through the product.
- Choosing icons that intuitively express an action.
- Keeping designs clean and simple so users don’t feel overwhelmed.
The difference can seem subtle at times, and there is some crossover. When you built a team, though, you will see the differences between UX developers vs. UI developers.
Front-End Developers vs. UX Developers
A common misconception is that UX developers have similar skills as front-end developers. Many UX developers find it helpful to learn some front-end developing skills, but they can do their jobs without spending too much time with technical details.
At the most basic level, UX developers help think of features and designs that make products appealing to consumers. The UX developer does not necessarily need to know how to make these features function, though.
That job falls on front-end developers who need skills like using:
- HTML and CSS
- Content management systems (CMS)
- E-commerce platforms
- RESTful APIs
In other words, front-end developers have much more technical roles than UX developers. While UX developers try to imagine how a product will fill consumer needs, front-end developers find ways to make those features function.
How a UX Developer Fits Into Your Team
More often than not, several team members fulfill multiple roles. Few members, however, do more than your UX developer. A UX developer has some knowledge about designing and coding. That makes the person an excellent communicator between your artistic and technical teams. You need someone to translate. A UX developer gets the job done.
UX developers also do a lot of research with potential users. The research can involve surveys and interviews. It can also involve thinking from the perspective of a potential user. Ideally, the UX developer identities problems and recommends improvements before your team spends too much time developing a product.
Your UX developer can also provide a fresh perspective on your team’s work. People often get emotionally attached to ideas when they work on them for weeks. The UX developer can step in and question whether an approach truly works as intended, especially when confronted by a new user.
A UX developer may upset some of your employees. The person isn’t there to massage egos. The UX developer’s work helps ensure that users will have an excellent experience that will make the product successful.
When Should You Hire a User Experience Developer?
There isn’t a perfect time to hire a user experience developer. Some companies get UX developers involved at the beginning of a project. Others give their technical and design teams some time to work before they bring in a UX developer to review the progress.
Either approach can work well, depending on the project. Just remember why you hired the UX developer. If you want to identify a product’s user, you probably want to get the UX developer involved as soon as possible.
If you want a UX developer to organize a website, it could make more sense to bring the person in half-way through the project. That way, the person can get a lay of the land and start organizing pages.
You have two basic choices:
- Get the UX developer involved early to avoid mistakes.
- Get the UX developer involved after the project has started to find mistakes and recommended corrections.
Benefits of Using UXPin With a UX Developer
Your team members will need to share a lot of information with the UX developer. UXPin, a collaborative prototyping tool, makes working with your team very simple. Especially, when you have team members working remotely. With UXPin, you get real-time collaboration that works similarly to Google Docs. When someone makes a change to the prototype, everyone sees it happen.
Better still, when it comes to developer hand-off, a UX dev doesn’t even need a UXPin account to participate in the collaboration. You can send them a preview link that works for everyone on the web. As long as your UX developer has the right link, they can contribute without committing to a UXPin plan.
UXPin also lets your UX developer and other team members create design systems that will streamline your work and keep all projects in the company consistent. When you have all of your assets in one design system, no one will “color outside the lines.”