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Some background info:
I am a junior .Net MVC developer who is great at nothing but good at everything. All my development experience up to this point has been full stack which is great because I never get stuck doing the same thing over and over.

However, the project I have been working on for the last year functions more like a traditional website where the backend is overshadowed by the frontend. There is only one other dev on the team so I have been lucky enough to take on huge tasks single handily such as converting the entire fixed width site to a fully responsive design and renovating huge sections of the site to enhance the user experience and to entice users to visit deeper parts of the site.

I have grown very fond of the front end work. I very much enjoy the UI/UX aspects of development and I am very well aware of the differences between UI and UX. I jump at every opportunity to expand our UI/UX.

The thing is, I am starting to reach a point where I really want to specialize in something and I wish to receive advice on how to transition to a UI/UX developer but most importantly, do these people exist? Or at least, do they make up a significant population?

I fully respect the science and art of UX as a standalone component in software applications but the developer in me could never abandon HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However, I really want to educate myself on the art of user interaction and all it's intricacies.

Is there any advice you can give me or even just you opinion on the paradigm of the UI/UX designer/developer?

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3 Answers 3

I am a junior .Net MVC developer who is great at nothing but good at everything.

Welcome to the club. It can be frustrating at times, for sure. But it seems to serve us well enough. :)

I am starting to reach a point where I really want to specialize in something

If you have the passion for that one thing, then absolutely go for it. That said, I've found we generalists tend not to be able to commit to that one thing. We get frustrated when the big picture isn't coming together an then jump back out of our little specialty to try and get it all put together better.

So, all that said, yes, certainly UXers that can develop exist.

At the moment, most folks in the world of UX don't have a specific UX degree or even necessarily a UX background. They've come from all sorts of worlds...graphic design, software development, psychology, testing, product management, etc, etc.

And the skills needed to fill out UX teams are broad enough that there's usually room for all types of people.

Personally, I believe that any developer that has a passion for front end UI work is essentially a UX designer by default. Further to that, I believe that UI development should be owned by UX--in tight collaboration with Development, of course, but the more front end UI folks you can put on the UX team, the slicker and faster the UX solutions can be prototyped, tested, validated, and actually implemented.

So I say keep focusing on front end development. More and more organizations are realizing the importance of the client-side experience and as we get richer and richer interfaces (AJAX, JS libraries, responsive sites, hybrid apps, etc) The FEDs are going to be some of the most valuable players on the team.

And while doing that, say interested in UX. Learn as much as you can as you go along. My hunch is that your passion for FED will naturally carry you over into exploring more and more about UX in general.

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What a great reply, really. Since you obviously come from a development background as well, specifically what should I be focusing on in spare time to further my UI/UX experience? Should I even force myself to pick either UI or UX? I'd rather not, tbh. When I develop the UI portion of an app I instinctively ponder the UX repercussions. "Does this menu make logical sense? Does it just make sense in general? If I suspend all belief for a minute, can I still access this site in a smooth and clear manner?" I always think about these things and is the reason why I want to equally pursue UX. –  Smith Jan 17 at 3:06
    
I actually come from an art background (Graphic design) that then migrated to development, then back to design, then to UX, back to design and development, and then back to UX. Tomorrow, who knows? :) As such, I would say no, you don't have to 'pick' UI vs. UX. If you like UI, stick with it. The UX will likely come naturally as you investigate and hone your UI skills. IMHO, the fact that you even think of those things makes you a UX designer already. :) –  DA01 Jan 17 at 3:10
    
Awesome. Do you have an specific career advice for me? I currently work for a medium sized company that specializes in government contracts. The current site I work on is GSA funded and even though the client party is very open to new ideas (gov site loving responsive design for example), I still feel like I might be held back in the long run. Do you have any recommendations for what specific job descriptions I should be seeking out when I long to make that lateral movement? I'm afraid that the general .Net dev job sets me up for mainly back end work. –  Smith Jan 17 at 3:20
    
I can't give you much long-term career advice. As I'm still trying to figure it all out myself! That said, having had some .gov experience, they often have a legal mandate to be accessible. That takes some work and smart thinking and it's often a good 'in' to a broader discussion of UX in general. That might be a good opening. Feel free to jump into chat if you have other questions. I'll be in there for a bit. –  DA01 Jan 17 at 3:24

Welcome to UX :)

Certainly, if you are finding UIUX keeps your mind busy, you are definitely one of us.

Do UIUX Developers Exist?

Short answer is NO there is no such designation yet - unless you decide to be one and be famous enough to originate a new professional type :)

But until this happens, you can be

  • Front End Developer
  • UI Developer
  • UIUX Designer
  • UX Designer / UI Developer

But not

  • UX Developer
  • UIUX Developer

Do UI Developers need to learn UX?

It is just like understanding humanities and developing empathy for fellow humans. Everybody needs to learn that and likewise, UX is something which must be known by everybody working in the domain of digital systems.

Some organizations are now looking to develop UX Culture within the project teams which demands everybody in the team to know foundational UX aspects. That thinking puts you at the right place and you can certainly learn more and contribute towards the over-all user experience.

What I mentioned about UX Developer is for the sake of designation only. Howerver within the teams, you can always expand your contribution and help the project to the limits possible. In this sense, it make perfect sense for developers to be UX designers, but they will be acting as UX designers then.. sorry UX Developers doesn't exist - yet :)

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In that UX as a broad term doesn't involve 'developing the code' I do agree. That said, I've certainly been on UX teams that have embraced FED and had developers on the UX team. So I do think you can have 'developer roles within a UX group' though what you'd call that, I don't know. I do love the idea of "UX Culture". I've always believed that the the goal of the UX profession should be to eventually eliminate the need for dedicated UX teams. :) –  DA01 Jan 17 at 2:22
    
Is FED = Front-end-design?. If not can you please share a link about it.. This would be a new thing to me otherwise. –  Salman Jan 17 at 3:05
    
sorry, I should have elaborated. I've always used FED to refer to "Front End Developer" –  DA01 Jan 17 at 3:07

Somewhere between small- and medium-sized teams it's quite likely that the position you're looking for exists. However, it's also quite likely that with any UI-related position they're going to look for someone with a background in design.

In many ways, it can be easier to find someone with a solid traditional design background that picked up enough coding skills in the last 10-20 years to do well than to find a developer that really knows design (especially since so many developers think they do).

So, if you want to really transition into UI/UX, the best thing to do would be to go to school for UI, graphics, design, and maybe Psychology (I/O Psychology would be the most likely area to find courses relevant in UX). Other than that, maintain your HTML/CSS (and probably JavaScript as well), because sometimes it is much easier to do UX testing with a basic functional mockup of the site than with printouts of PhotoShop designs.

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