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UI Developer Career Guide

If your technical computer and problem-solving skills are top-notch, you have a keen eye for aesthetics, and you’re a creative thinker, you might consider a career path as a UI developer.

User interface (UI) developers are responsible for designing programs for users that look and act the way users expect them to. To excel, you should have a keen sense of what users want and the technical expertise to develop interfaces for software that meet those needs. The interfaces should be easy to learn and simple to use. UI developers need to have expert knowledge of a variety of web development and application programming languages. You must also have an understanding of graphic design programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Flex, and a strong sense of aesthetics to design appealing user interfaces.

Solid project management and verbal and written communication skills, as well as good leadership qualities, are essential to succeed as a UI developer. You must be a good listener in order to understand the needs and goals of stakeholders and be able to communicate ideas to non-technical people. UI developers work closely with back-end developers and need strong interpersonal skills. 

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is hiring experienced user interface developers. We are looking for a candidate with excellent communication and collaboration skills and an eye for design to work for us full-time. A UI developer plays a key role in the way software and websites look and feel for the end user. They implement the vision of the UX developer and make important design decisions about color, spacing, typography, buttons, transitions, spacing, icons, and scrollbars, in addition to using coding languages like Javascript, HTML, CSS, Jason, AJAX, and JQuery. If you’re a creative, empathetic UI developer with 3-5 years of experience, [Your Company Name] might be the perfect place for you to take your career.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Collaborate with product management and engineering to define and implement innovative solutions for the product’s direction, visuals, and experience
  • Execute all visual design stages from concept to final hand-off with engineering
  • Conceptualize original ideas that bring simplicity and user-friendliness to complex design roadblocks
  • Create wireframes, storyboards, user flows, process flows, and site maps to communicate interaction and design ideas effectively
  • Present and defend designs and key milestone deliverables to peers and executive stakeholders
  • Conduct user research and evaluate feedback
  • Establish and promote design guidelines, best practices, and standards

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in human-computer interaction, interaction design, engineering, or a related field required
  • A master’s degree in those fields is strongly preferred

Required skills and qualifications

  • Demonstrate UI design skills with a strong portfolio
  • Substantial experience in creating wireframes, storyboards, user flows, process flows, and site maps
  • Proficiency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Excellent visual design skills with sensitivity to user-system interaction
  • Ability to present designs and sell solutions to various stakeholders
  • Ability to solve problems creatively and effectively
  • Experience working in an Agile/Scrum development process

Preferred qualifications

  • Solid experience implementing automated tests leveraging Jasmine and Cypress
  • Good working knowledge of cloud security and web security
  • Enthusiasm to work in an Agile development model

Typical work environment

Much of the work of a UI developer is done in the office on a computer, working full time. UI developers use specialized software, such as Sketch, Adobe XD, and InVision to lay out and prototype user interface designs. The job of a UI developer is highly collaborative, requiring close work with UX developers to create easy-to-use interfaces for the end user. More UI developer positions are increasingly becoming available remotely.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a UI developer are usually in an office setting, from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Additional work hours may be required when approaching project deadlines.

Available certifications

With the increasing amount of business moving online, more UI developers are in demand. Due to this increased need, a number of certification programs exist to help you begin your career. A bachelor’s degree in computer science and information systems is a great place to start, but certifications are a great way to set yourself apart. Here are a few options:

  • Front-End Web Development Graduate Certificate – This four-course certificate program, offered by Harvard, teaches you the fundamentals of UI development, including coding, designing, and understanding best practices for web design. You have three years to complete the four courses with a B grade or higher. 
  • CareerFoundry UI Program – This five to nine-month program is perfect for beginners looking to make a career change. The entire course is taught online, with access to tutors and mentors along the way. Expect to spend between fifteen to thirty hours a week completing this program. 
  • Designlab UI Design Short Course – If you’re a mid-level design professional looking to increase your skill set in UI development, this four-week course is perfect for you. The course requires between 15 and 20 hours a week of your time and will help you advance your career.

Career path

A UI developer needs to have a bachelor’s degree in human-computer interaction, interaction design, engineering, or a related field. Students are encouraged to pursue internships with technology companies while they are in college to gain some real-world experience in the field. Some companies prefer applicants to have a master’s degree.

UI developers need to study HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as application programming languages like Java, .Net, AJAX, and Ruby. Knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite (for creating design mockups of user interfaces) and the inner workings of popular web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer are also essential skills for a UI developer to have.

A UI developer can move up into a role such as an IT project manager. In that role, they will oversee and guide the entire development process of a project, sometimes supervising a team of software developers and UI developers. UI developers who want to move into management roles should spend extra time developing soft skills like relationship building, motivating and influencing others, and communication.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1255

2020 Employment199,400
Projected Employment in 2030224,900
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 13% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift25,500 increase

UI developers need to keep up with the latest trends and study how users interact with websites and software. According to the design website DesignHill, there are several trends UI developers should be on top of in the next few years, including full-screen video, vivid colors, and long scrolling.

Videos have been used for a long time to grab users’ attention, but many websites and apps are expanding their videos to full-screen to increase user engagement. More vivid colors are also being used to increase user engagement. For a few years, UI design trended toward muted colors, but as that trend continues to recede, many brands are using brighter colors to highlight their identity and personality. That trend is also expected to show itself in user interfaces.

A third trend that UI developers should be aware of is the use of cards. Cards are used to display large amounts of data on a single screen, letting users grasp all the information at a single glance. They’re becoming more common because they work well on both desktop and mobile screens. Cards can also be manipulated and moved in different ways, giving UI developers more flexibility.