You may have heard some companies require Frontend Developers to know how to use tools like Photoshop or Illustrator. Or require UIUX Designers to know how to write CSS and HTML. But are these two jobs really the same? It’s undeniable that they often share each other’s skills, but in fact they are very distinct and have values that the other cannot replace.

In a web development team, UIUX Designers need to spend a lot of time communicating with clients to understand their needs and then transform their needs or concepts into beautiful websites designs that may be able to solve their problem.In contrast, Frontend Developers will work closely with UIUX Designers to understand what goals or user experience are UIUX Designers trying to deliver then come up with solutions to make the website come alive. Now you have a brief idea of how they are different let us take a closer look at what each role does.

Work of UIUX Designers

UIUX stands for User Interface and User Experience. As the job title suggested, they are responsible for designing user interface and user experience. User interface refers to the visual appearance of the product. In web development, it’s basically the look and feel of the website. On the other hand, user experience refers to how the user feels and his/her experience during and after visiting the website. Are call to action buttons standing out? Can users find what they are looking for on the website easily, etc… Due to the nature of their job, they often need to meet with clients regularly to understand their needs and redesign their work over and over again until their clients are satisfied.

The work journey of UIUX Designers are often the following:

  1. Meet with clients to understand their needs
  2. Observe clients from the meeting and design User Personas to keep a note of the characteristics of the clients
  3. Based on the User Personas analyze their pain point and their needs
  4. Sketch wireframe of the product
  5. Meet with clients and ask what they think about the wireframe (Return to step 1 if unsatisfied)
  6. Based on the wireframe, design colors, fonts, and look of the product
  7. Discuss with clients about the design (Return to step 6 if unsatisfied)
  8. Based on the design, prepare prototypes
  9. Demo prototypes (A B testing if necessary) to clients and ask for opinions (Return to step 8 if unsatisfied)
  10. Communicate with Frontend Developers to see if the prototype is doable
  11. Modify prototype based on feedbacks from Frontend Developers
  12. Wait for development process to finish and make sure the actual website stays on track with the design
  13. Deliver the product to clients and perform testing
  14. Modify design or website if necessary
  15. Deliver to production

The work journey of UIUX designers may vary depending on the company, but they will almost always need to meet with the clients regularly to make sure the delivered product is indeed what the clients need.

Work of Frontend Developers

Unlike UIUX Designers, Frontend Developers enter projects at a later phase. They are responsible for transforming design concepts into real websites while making sure all logics and functional parts of the website still hold. While following the design of UIUX Designers, Frontend Developers must also take usabilities of the design and development cost into account. If the design is going to take big efforts to implement, is it worth doing or are there any alternatives? Also, based on the design, Frontend Developers must communicate with Backend Developers to tell them what data they need and in which format Backend Developers should prepare them.

The work journey of Frontend Developers:

  1. Discuss website template with UIUX Designers
  2. Propose solutions or alternatives to UIUX Designers if needed
  3. Discuss API interface with Backend Developers
  4. Implement the website based on the design
  5. Make the website responsive and work for all devices (Discuss page layout with UIUX Designers if needed)
  6. Integrate with Backend API
  7. Test the website and make sure there are no bugs
  8. Demonstrate the website to clients (Sometimes done by Project Manager)
  9. Modify code if necessary
  10. Deliver to production

Frontend Developers still need to communicate or have meetings with clients at some point, but it won’t be as often as UIUX Designers. Most communications of Frontend Developers happen internally unless UIUX Designers or Backend Developers are from other companies.

Overlap skills and corporations

So are there any skills that both sides should learn? The answer is Yes! Frontend Developers should learn UI design fundamentals. This will help them understand why some websites look better than the others. Even though personal taste may have some factors in the end result, UI design fundamentals play an important role. In contracts, UIUX designers should learn how CSS works and how to write animations with them. It may be intuitive at first, but it will help UIUX Designers make decisions on which animations or effects they want to add to their designs.

Learning each other’s skill will reduce the cost and time spent in communication. It will make Frontend Developers start to see why websites are designed in the way they are, and it will make UIUX Designers start to understand why sometimes Frontend Developers propose alternatives instead of agreeing with their designs. After all UIUX Designers and Frontend Developers are in the same team and trying to reach the same goal – deliver a successful website to clients.