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So, I graduated with a bachelor's in web development. I LOVE coding...but I also LOVE being the deciding factor. Its one thing to be handed something already designed and just code it...but its a whole other experience to have some design ideas and execute (code) them. I seem to be getting a lot of "choose one or the other" where I work. I feel like there IS a gray area...there is the coder who also is a user experience person. What do you think? Can anyone tell me what my ideal title would be? I've looked at some places that ux designer does nothing but design the structure and experience and hand it over to the Dev team...but I want to be both. Thanks in advance.

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    You can be both a designer and coder but you will probably have to look at smaller companies. They are more likely to value the fact you can wear multiple hats. – boz Aug 27 '14 at 13:23
  • Sector may matter as well. I've talked to a front-end developer at a large marketing company who said the developers were involved in the design. More creative companies seem more likely to involve all members of the team. Finding a company with an Agile development methodology will help a developer to be involved earlier in the process as well. – Graham Herrli Aug 27 '14 at 16:33
  • Keep in mind, though, that to design well you need to try to have the user's mental model, which is difficult if you're working too closely with the implementation model. There's a reason the jobs are usually separated. – Graham Herrli Aug 27 '14 at 16:33
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I have the job you are asking about and the comment from boz is right, you will need to look at smaller companies. What does that look like? Well, I get to develop REST API's and websites, but I also get to advise, design, and do some artwork for fellow devs as a UX Designer. I also get to go out and interview our internal and external users, do usability testing, and recommend changes. Try and aim for a "Developer/Designer" title, or ask during interviews if they have a designer already. If they don't, you may be able to make a space for yourself by demonstrating some talent.

You have to be careful though, as once somebody see's you can wear two hats, they will wonder how many more you can wear. Then you are managing some databases and servers and get pulled for some basic IT to fill any gaps. I started with a degree in web dev, but I'm working on a Masters in UX now so that I can move into a more focused role. I don't think I will ever stop coding or designing software though, even if its just functional mockups sometimes. I wouldn't trade my crazy experience for anything though, its just made me learn so much by doing.

Another thing to try is some consulting work on the side. That way you are the full stack, from talking to the customer, assessing needs, design mockups, coding, the works.

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    thanks so much!. I definitely want to do consulting on the side...I started my own company on the side to do it. I also just recently took my first client ...it was super cool :) – carinlynchin Aug 29 '14 at 12:17
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I'm not sure if this question really belongs into this forum, but since I think I know quite well what you mean, I dare to write an 'answer' anyways:

IMHO The larger the company and the bigger the business –> the more likely you will find yourself in a team of highly specialised people. Teams of developers are split into front-end and back-end ("wait! I wanna do both!"), designers build sub-groups of ui- and ux-designers and so on.

My five cents of advice:

  • if you really want to do it all, start your own company. Only then you can really decide what you can do yorself, and what you want others to do for you. Of course, starting your own business is quite tricky – you will need time, clients, skills – and a network of people that can help you with all the things you either can't do or don't want to do. But it might pay off in the long run.
  • Find a small company that needs someone 'like you' and can financially support you. Chances are that there is no proper job title for this kind of job, but there might still be a company looking for someone who can do the web things for them. It doesn't have to be a full-time job, but enough to pay your bills.

If you think you'll first have to apply for a proper job, then try to be honest and accurate describing your skills and preferences – for some people it's all confusing enough anyways. So if you graduated in web development, then technically you can call yourself a web developer. If you consider yourself a ux-expert, then you can of course also add that to your skill list. A good team/management should always also consult the developer together with the designers, when a new project is kicked off. I Know, that is not really

For myself I can say I still do have problems finding the right job title. I gaduated in design, but I do a lot of coding – and also administration and the like. Recently I introduced myself as some kind of tech-triptych: "Webmaster, Web-developer and Web-designer", underlining that I also would be able to work on concepts, do wireframes and click dummies - but also code in php or draw by numbers in css. And to my surprise, nobody was really surprised.

To sum it up: there are lots of people working in that 'grey area'. But it can be a bit difficult.

Good luck!

ps: just an additional thought: your question occurs to be a bit misleading. You actually seem to know very well what you want to be – the real question is how/where can you accomblish that, and what's the proper job title for that kind of position

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  1. You could open your open company.

  2. You could find work at a small company; the smaller the company the better chance the developer has of making the decisions and design.

  3. Try jobs like Technical Product Manager where you may be expected to do some of both design and coding.

  4. Get a job as a developer in a "not too rigid" company, and make sure to get involved in the design phase, by joining meetings and giving helpful - and friendly - feedback. Before you know it you may have both jobs, even if not formally. Be sure to discuss your ambitions during the interview stage - but not with HR as they won't know what to do with "unusual" requests.

  • I try but they "have a team for that" – carinlynchin Aug 28 '14 at 19:45
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Wait, you can be that guy on a big company too.

I was in the same position.
I work in a big company (big => 300k people) as a UX designer. All the dev's in my project are oriented to take care of the backend. So, it's not surprise that our web and mobile interface are terrible. The guy who was developing frontend here is using primefaces (how i miss the 90's).

I've always loved coding, so I've started doing the design and the html/css mockups for the team. With this I managed to show the team that we can have a step forward on the frontend. Starting that day I was involved on technology decisions and helping build with the dev team.

My answer to your question is: don't go necessarily to a smaller company. There is room for a "gray area professional" on a big company, but you're the one to make room for this. You never gonna find a job description that unified those two skills. You have to do it by yourself.

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    Good advice, and it's from your own experience. +1 – LindaCamillo Aug 27 '14 at 14:52
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I am a User Experience Advocate

Where I work, I design and code, because when you pass off a design to developers, there is a loss in translation. I create coded prototypes if I can't create a prototype with a program. That way, people understand what I mean when I say I want it to be a fully immersive experience. All these things can be interpreted differently, but nothing can be mistaken when they see it working in front of them.

If you can't find a place that does that for you, then you can make your own job (it is difficult, believe me, I know, I've been there). Creating your own job allows you to do so much more, and potentially create greater things. Best of luck.

  • thanks so much! yea I am starting my own on the side but only so much time in the day with a family too :) I agree though. I hate being the developer on the other side that just gets handed something and told "do this exactly this way" with no creative input at all...I mean I love coding and I'll do it but I'd like the to able to create my ideas as well – carinlynchin Aug 29 '14 at 12:29
  • I know exactly where you're coming from. At work I do both, or as much as I can with both (mainly design though). When I get back home, I code all of my own work along with my designs. It's wonderful! – Majo0od Aug 29 '14 at 12:31
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This is tough because there is the risk that knowing the constraints of the medium (whatever tool you are using) can prevent you (anyone, not just you) from moving the user experience forward. This is the only hesitation I have for UX / coding unicorns.

There is also the time factor.

Doing all the UX disciplines also means listening to people All The Time. Not a lot of time to code, and feedback gathering is throughout the lifecycle, not just conveniently at the beginning of the process. I think it will be really difficult and time-consuming to do this effectively. Unless you have the chance to vary the kind of work you do, and put coding on hold for a bit while you wear your UX hat.

I don't want to sound discouraging, because unicorns are awesome. One of the best developers we have is a human factors engineer (and also a painter) who is very creative, but has no time at all to be listening to users, or even observing test sessions. All of his time is spent diving into the code, and he is very in demand because of his artistry with the UI.

I would encourage you to find a company that embraces Lean Startup or 4 Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank, which would get you out of the office and into the field, listening to users and fully understanding the problem domain before writing a line of code. Yeah, that's what I'd do. :)

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