As new technologies become familiar and blossom into trends, a lot can take place in the dev world. More often than not, what happens with software development projects is they come to involve specialists in different areas of expertise:
- Front-end and Back-end developers
- UX Designers
- Testing and QA
Once the UX and design phases are finished and a project enters the development process, there’s a gap in quality between what designers created as an experience and developers implement in the browsers. This gap is usually related to communication issues. I tend to refer to this issue as the “language vs. math teacher paradigm”.
Let’s clarify this concept.
Communication Issues: the Language Teacher vs. Math Teacher Paradigm
A math teacher may lack the literary skills to write well-structured prose. Likewise, the same would happen for a language teacher who wants to try and resolve a complex mathematical calculation.
Based on this analogy, Designers and Engineers speak different languages.
While UX Designers usually focus on usability, design and communication, Front-end developers base their work on complex logic and functionality.
UX Developers Close the Communication Gap
How do UX developers do it? UX Developers connect the different dots and close the breach between designers and developers. They do this almost literally by translating UX and design into code. Then, front-end developers can integrate that code with their logic. UX developers usually tend to think as designers but they execute as developers, to put it in simpler terms.
For starters, instead of focusing only on code, UX Developers think of every component and interaction as a whole experience. Working bit by bit, they focus on robust HTML structures that can tackle different types of content. And to improve performance, they focus on developing the type of interactions that will provide response and context to the user or visitor.
“UX developers usually tend to think as designers but they execute as developers, they think of every component and interaction as a whole experience”.
Damián Muti, Sr UX Developer
This is all achieved by working side-by-side with interaction designers on a single team, not only on a project but as a department. UX developers share day-to-day knowledge and participate in workshops in order to learn from each other and to understand the other’s language and way of thinking.
Why a UX Developer is so Important in the Product Creation Process
At Making Sense, we understand the process of building an experience as a whole. From a UX perspective, the experience we develop is played out in the browser (mockups are not enough, right?), which means that execution is everything. For these reasons we have this specific role in our teams to ensure that the solution is well implemented and the design process results in a smooth experience for the user.
These are some of the key values that a UX dev adds to every project:
- Prototypes to use for user testing purpose
- Latest technologies
- Responsive behavior
- Scalable user interface code
- Awesome results in terms of motion and interactions
- Assets optimizations
- Deep knowledge of the design process and techniques
- Acting as a proxy between designers and engineers
When the time comes for coding, the UX developer has a clear set of priorities in mind:
- First, the interface has to look and interact with the user exactly as it was thought to be.
- Then, the interface has to be functional.
- It has to be optimized to be extended.
- Code and file structure have to be well organized for every colleague who may later join the team in other development phases.
- And lastly, it has to be beautiful, if by beauty we mean appealing to the eye.
Over the years, we have realized that having separate areas within the company, which in fact, nourish each other and require reciprocation, was not beneficial when delivering a high-quality software products. For this reason, Making Sense decided to integrate the UI and UX departments, providing a holistic experience.
Now the UX department is formed by designers and developers who share their task from the early stages of development and this allows them to empathize, craft and create a bigger impact on the experience that users will have. And that, of course, is the ultimate goal for everyone.