This article will explain the differences between the skills and capabilities of a web developer and UI developer. It will also give you some advice to consider when choosing one for your business.
Essentially, a web developer will have a broader working knowledge needed to build an entire end-to-end web solution that functions as needed, whereas a UI (User Interface) developer will apply more specialised knowledge to lay out and optimise a website interface: the look, feel, and interactive nature of a website.
Knowing the roles and goals of each kind of developer can help you better understand which you may need to commission or work with to build the site you need. We'll explain more about this below.
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What is a web developer?
A web developer is similar to a web designer, but instead focuses on how a website works rather than how it appears. A good web developer will have a strong understanding of HTML as well as an expert knowledge of databases and programming languages. They are responsible for building and maintaining websites that are resilient and functional.
You should expect a web developer to be proficient in using:
- HTML: Standard computer language used to achieve graphical and functional effects on web pages.
- PHP, ASP, Java or C++: Open source programming languages explicitly created for use across the internet.
- MySQL: Flexible open Source database management system that is the most popular choice for managing online content in a database.
Not only will a good web developer be skilled in the above, but they will also possess strong project and time management skills. These are vital as web developers often create a website’s functionality whilst working alongside web designers and UI developers, who create the look and feel.
Without strong self-management skills and a good line of communication between the back-end and front-end of the web design process, costly delays can occur.
What is a UI developer?
Within Information Technology, UI stands for User Interface. It is the term given to everything that a user may interact with when using a computer, tablet or smartphone – including the display screen, attachments like keyboards and mice and the appearance of websites and graphics.
In order to understand the significance of UI, it is necessary to think a little bit about the layered nature of a typical web application. Many such applications are divided down into logical functions, or layers, including:
- User interface: The look and feel of web-pages and associated apps. Often developed by UX (user experience) designers.
- Applications layer: Underlying programs written in code that sit behind the UI and are responsible for the functionality of the graphical user interface. Application developers are responsible for this.
- Network layers: Elements of an application that are responsible for moving data to and from your server and the front end of a website.
Therefore, a UI Developer sits in between UX designers and Application Developers. They combine design skills with technical know-how and are responsible for ensuring things look great and work well.
A skilled UI developer will possess expert knowledge in graphical programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, as well as a strong understanding of coding and HTML.
▶ Read more: The best London and UK web developers
What’s the difference between a web developer & UI developer?
Generally speaking, the difference between a web developer and a UI developer is:
- Web Developer: An individual with the skills necessary to build an entire end-to-end web solution.
- UI Developer: An individual with a more discipline-specific skill set associated with the look, feel and usability of an application or web page.
Within the web design and building industry, it is not unusual at all to find people with predominantly graphic design backgrounds who are also UI developers and fully capable of building very attractive and eye-catching front-end user interfaces.
However, they may not be particularly skilled in some of the more technical components that sit behind the user interface, which would more typically be the domain of web developers and web programmers.
For the best result, it is recommend that you find the right balance of use between a web developer and UI developer. Whilst both roles compliment one another and will result in a more polished and functional website, you should always consider your individual situation as using multiple individuals will ultimately cost you more in both time and expenditure.
Hiring a web developer or UI developer
The skills required to develop a suitable user interface should not be underestimated.
However technically clever and useful your website or the products/services are, if the site is not easy for potential customers to use then it may negatively affect the likelihood of them doing business with you.
As part of an initial quotation for the design and build of a website, your provider should give you a design overview of the user interface area.
You should find out whether the interface will be constructed by a dedicated specialist or by an individual with the skills to build all of the components or layers by his or herself.
As mentioned earlier, you should be aware that although probably more expensive, it might be better to use specialists for each specific need rather than a multi-skilled individual who may or may not be as experienced in certain disciplines.
What Web Developers and UI Developers Are Out There?
Some examples of web and UI developers include:
- Built By Buffalo, Brighton: A small web development agency providing beautiful, easy to use websites.
- D3R, Chichester: Plain-speaking web development company with a wide range of skills.
- Lilo, London: An award winning web development agency with global offices and 15 years of experience.
- Spotless, London: A UX/UI consultancy based in Shoreditch offering a selection of interface optimisation options.
- Sequence, Cardiff: Digital agency offering user interface services and with almost 20 years of experience.
- Every Interaction, London: Detail-obsessed UI/UX agency who create functional and good-looking solutions.
Once the extent of your requirements have been quantified, it will be possible to issue you with a priced proposition.
As a very rough guideline, a simple website might be yours for as little as a few hundred pounds. However, a more functionally-rich, transition-based website might be priced anywhere from £1500 upwards.
If you’re clear on the differences between a user interface developer and a web developer, then you may want to read more about the differences between web designers and developers. Knowing who does what can really help the process of building or redeveloping your website.
Or you can read more about other London and UK web development agencies.
If you are looking to hire a web developer, then why not find out how much they charge per project or per hour?
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