What are the differences between UI/UX and front-end development?

  • front-end developer here.

    I'm working in a tiny startup: one back-end developer and me as the front-end developer. My boss is calling me UX boy since I've worked there, even if I don't specially consider myself as a UX designer. I admit that I discover this term on Hacker News since a quite short period. I'm feeling concerned by it.

    However, as I am supposed to deal with graphics design and front-end code (what I consider as the UI in a traditional way), plus workflow, ergonomics and the User eXperience on another side, I'm asking myself if I don't miss something special. I'm used to work in very small teams and have to do all by myself.

    The boss seems to have great expectations in UI/UX, and maybe this term gives him some fantasy about our work. We work in france and as I say, this term is quite new here, and I think people don't always use it in it's right meaning. The stuff is trendy, and it's cool to say that the staff is doing UI/UX even if it's meaningless or even worse, false. And what does it mean doing UI/UX? When you work on an interface you HAVE to take care of the users and their experience. I can't believe a great professional wouldn't.

    I come from art and graphic design. Then, I learn programming and start to hack gently. I've always considering that this way was right and believe that every small team front-end developper have to deal with UX, and will not just implement what the UX guy has build for him. I don't believe it works that way in most of the small teams, but I believe it does in larger one.

    It's hard to tell what your specific question is. That said, in general, UX design specifies the UI the UI developers build. Sometimes that's all one person. Sometimes it's a team of people. Sometimes it's entirely different departments.

    UX = Cognitive Ergonomy i.m.h.o.

    I work as front-end developer and UI/UX designer. I had jobs as "UX designer" where I had coding in job requirements and front-end jobs where they asked me to apply my UX knowledge in CSS updates. I didn't work so much on JS lately, more on design implementation, so at my last job I had the title "Front-end UI developer"... it seems it is a thing :P. I think would be better to focus on design or on the front-end and the other be just a plus, but if having knowledge in both fields give you an advantage at work on this point, why it matters the title?

  • Michael Lai

    Michael Lai Correct answer

    8 years ago

    This is not the definite answer, but perhaps you can try to think of the difference between UI/UX and front-end development as the difference between design and implementation. The problem is that UX designers tend to come from either a graphic design or software development background, and so there are naturally overlaps between their role and that of a 'web designer/developer'. I would think that someone who is a UX specialist looks more at the human side of the design process, and would tend to do research and ask questions that will form the basis for coming up with design concepts/ideas, and then also doing user testing and evaluation to validate these ideas post development (or as part of the development cycle).

    If you really want to cut through all the jargon and terminology, UX is really just a philosophy/concept/approach, depending on how much you believe it needs to be in concrete or is subject to intrepretation. But in principle if you think more like a user (i.e. from a user-centric, goal driven perspective) rather than a developer (i.e. from a functional, specification/implementation perspective) then you are on a good path to becoming a UX practitioner. This is what they refer to as the user-centric approach to design and development. In comparison, UI is a little less abstract because it deals directly with the user interface aspect, and although it can be as high level as creating design patterns and libraries, you can also get down to specific details like individual UI components and elements.

    I am happy to answer more specific questions, but the thing about hype is that people will get over it soon enough and face reality.

    I like the idea that 'UX is a concept'. I feel that eventually, the idea of a 'UX position' will disappear, as ideally, everyone involved with the design and production of a solution *will be* a UX practitioner. ;)

    @DA01 I hope it would be like this.

    @Michael: I've seen here that this definition seems to be common. I agree it also seems to be a conceptual approach, just as 'front-end development' was some years ago. Problem for user-centric approach in very small teams is that we don't necessary have enough time dedicated to users. Your answer was exactly what I was searching for, want to know if my intuition about it was right.

    You could argue whether the same problem occurs for AGILE software development environments. I find that it has very little to do with documenting processes, but more to do with the approach you take with the way different processes in software development is structured. In the same way, it doesn't make sense for just one part of the organization to be involved in UX or AGILE, because changing existing processes has an impact for the rest of the organization as well.

    @DA01 - as you have predicted, the difference is definitely much less than it used to be, and I think with the next generation of people who will come in already having learnt programming at school from a young age, it will be design that becomes a specialist skill with UX designers needing to be able to do both front-end coding and UI/UX design.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM