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UX/UI Designer VS. UX/UI Developer: What’s the Difference?

UI UX developer UI UX designer

Do you know the feeling you get when you browse a web page forever without ever finding what you need? On my side, the first example coming to mind are Italian government websites. There, often icons and buttons feel merely arbitrary and counterintuitive. Spending all this time and effort is only allowed for government websites – you gotta pay taxes anyway, don’t you?

When we talk about e-commerce and remote businesses, however, it is a different story. In that case, you have competition, and your online page is your business card. If it takes me over 5 mins to purchase an item or to subscribe, I may just look somewhere else – which for you means sending your customers to your competitors.

By now, you might have heard of UX/UI developers and UX/UI designers. Those are the ones making the apps and interfaces you are using daily. Their job is all about user experience design (UX) and user interface design (UI). Let’s look at the differences between these positions and why no-one with a website can get away without hiring them! 

What’s the Difference Between UX and UI Design?

User interface (UI)

The user interface is what the user sees, and touches, when using a digital service or purchasing a product – including screens and touchscreens, sounds, and light. Nowadays, kids play on iPads and grandmas follow their nephews on Instagram. But it wasn’t always like that. 

Do you remember the first computers in the 70s? Back then, to use a computer, you needed to know a programming language to complete the most straightforward task. The first graphical user interface (GUI) only arrived in the 80s. For the first time, users could use a computer with buttons, icons, menus, and so on. Anyone could use a computer, no coding required. In 1884, Apple Computer released the Macintosh, one of the first home computers to use simply via the interface. What follows is history.

This crucial shift in technology meant that computers were accessible to everyone. It also meant that you needed someone able to design interfaces thinking like a future user. Without an accessible interface, your product isn’t going to sell. That’s how UI designers and developers come to our story. Today, with the proliferation of digital devices and new technologies, UI design’s range of action is almost limitless.

User Experience (UX)

The user experience is a consequence of the growth of UI design. After you navigate a page or use an app, you have the experience of it. As we said, that can be good or bad depending on how the user feels about these interactions. UX professionals work on multiple touchpoints with the user. Working closely with the marketing team, they research how your clients discovered your business, the sequence of actions they take interacting with your pages, how they feel completing this task, and their impression on the overall experience. The goal here is to ensure a product that meets customer needs and achieves the desired outcome. 

The Difference Between UI/UX Designer & Developer

When it comes to hiring, a clear line between these positions can be hard to draw. At the end of the day, their skill set is pretty similar. The difference lies in the goal they use their skills for. As Galileo Galilei said once: ‘the intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach how one goes to heaven, not how the heavens go.’ The same thing goes for UI and UX design. If you want to work on user interface components, you want a UI designer and a UI developer. If you’re going to work on the user’s experience, you are looking for UX design.

Just remember, designers and developers don’t have the same role and don’t do the same job. Take any comic book that comes to your mind. Writing and illustration are very different activities. You need both of them equally, but they are parallel worlds. Your developer is your writer, the one who structures the storyline and creates characters’ personalities. Like a designer, the illustrator translates the story into a visual world, giving life to characters and places with colors and style.

With different tools, they take the reader by hand from the beginning to the end. And that’s the same thing you want for your page. As long as technology will be part of our daily life, you will need someone to create an interface for any background, age, profession, and technical skills. Let’s have a closer look at their tasks and responsibilities.

What To Look When Hiring One?

Remote or in-site, these roles work closely with your team, especially at the beginning of the process. When looking at portfolios, remember that interpersonal and communication skills are a requirement as much as coding languages. How can your UX developer improve the user experience without talking with your marketing team? Or, how can you UI designers represent your brand without participating in your branding meetings? 

What Is a UI/UX Designer?

UX designers work on how to improve users’ satisfaction by improving the interface usability. UI designers work on language and visual input to translate the brand identity into a sophisticated and smooth webpage. The UI designer will select colors and font, positioning the page’s element to quickly and immediately communicate information for the user. 

Tasks:

  • Research user habit and issues 
  • Create an interactive and accessible model
  • Implementing activities with eye-catching design 
  • Develop mockup of the website and interfaces 
  • Create interface elements such as menus, call to action, tabs 
  • Testing and troubleshooting user experience issues 
  • Research with and marketing team to implement business objectivity into design 

Skills:

  • InVision, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, and others
  • In-depth knowledge of common coding languages like HTML, XML, JavaScript, and others 
  • Expertise in wireframe tasks and tools
  • Aware of design trend and tools 

What Is a UI/UX Developer?

Working on a website, there are three main types of developers. A back-end developer ensures that the site’s function keeps running by updating and improving the server-side code. Finally, you have a full-stack developer that takes care of everything. 

Your UI and UX developers fall in the first category, front-end developers. Their role is to make work the visual element of an app or website, working with UI and UX designers. As we said before, designers take care of the aesthetic and creative aspects of the interface, while developers focus on making these visual elements function smoothly and coherently. 

Tasks:

  • Conduct user and product research
  • Set up information architecture to identify your buyer persona 
  • Create wireframes and user flows 
  • Create prototypes and improve them with new data 
  • Handle visual design – coming back to our designers! 

Skills:

  • In-depth knowledge of coding languages like JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and others 
  • Command of advanced application languages such as Ruby, PHP, Java, XHTML, Dot Net, Ajax, and others
  • Knowledge of Flash, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and others 
  • Understanding of Restful APIsof social networking websites
  • Experience with content management systems like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, WooCommerce, and others 
  • Understanding of SEO

Should You Hire a UI/UX Developer or a UI/UX Designer?

Here we are. This was a short overview of the main tasks and responsibilities of these key roles. The last question to answer is: who do you need for your project?

Do you need a UI designer to make your app interface the prettiest in the world? Or a UX designer to create the ultimate experience for your customer?

Are you at the very beginning and looking for a UI/UX developer to give life to your site? Or just to improve the experience for your user and be different from a government website? 

Before looking for the right skilled professional make sure of what you need for your mobile app project, web service, or wherever you have in mind. And if you have doubts about where to find the best developers for your team, DistantJob is here to help! We can find you the right person for your project in under 2 weeks!

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Costanza Tagliaferri

Costanza Tagliaferri

Costanza Tagliaferri is a Writer and Content Marketer at DistantJob. She has covered a wide range of topics, and now she is focussing on technology, traveling, and remote work.