Whether you’re in the initial stages of a web development project, or you need to add a quick pinch-hitter to your current team, many businesses need to hire a good UI developer.
However, knowing what you need and finding the right one can be two very different things.
And given the power and responsibility, a good UI developer has on the look and feel of your website or app, getting the ride one can be game-changing.
So, in a market full of experienced—and inexperienced—UI developers, what qualities should a business or organization look for when hiring?
Grab a seat. We’re diving in…
What is a UI Developer?
First and foremost, let’s define our terms.
A UI Developer—also known as a frontend developer or front end engineer—is a programmer or coder that’s in charge of affecting the core look, feel, and functionality of a website or app. This includes everything from the project’s user interface (UI) to the user experience (UX).
Effectively, if it’s visible to the user, the UI developers are responsible for its look and functionality.
As you can imagine, when the look and feel of your entire project rest in the hands of a UI developer, you want to make sure you have the best one.
This leads us to our next question…
What Should You Look for When Hiring a UI Developer?
Given that hiring a good UI developer is such serious consideration, it’s best to know exactly what you’re looking for—and what to vet on—when you’re reviewing candidates.
Here are a few things that are simply non-negotiable…
Quick-Thinking and Adaptable
This is a desirable skill for nearly every profession. However, it couldn’t be more apt for a role as a UI developer. As a UI developer, and as with all technology, your career experience is constantly evolving in tandem with technology.
That means that not only should you be up-to-date on the key technologies and trends within the industry, but more importantly, aware of the history of the discipline, and the lesser-known innovators.
If there’s a small change in project design and flow (to the web or with apps) from innovative brands, businesses, or organizations, you should be aware of it.
The reason being is that when changes are on the horizon, you don’t want to be behind the eight-ball as to the reason why. Innovation means forethought, and it requires a deep and abiding commitment to studying the craft, understanding your audience, and thinking with the future in mind.
Mastery of Core Coding Languages
Today, there are many frontend developers who choose to dabble in both frontend and backend. However, understanding both sides of the coin should not come at the deprivation of one essential skill (knowing required languages) in favor of promoting another.
In the world of coding, versatility is good, but mastery is much better.
Find a master at their discipline and it’ll do you a world of wonders when it’s time for the work to begin.
Clear Sense of Vision
Another essential quality to any UI developer, an enduring and confident vision is a must. As a project begins, particularly when working with clients, the vision for the overall direction cannot appear undefined.
It needs to be clear and committed.
That isn’t to say that the vision as a whole cannot change. It does mean, however, that whatever the vision is, it must be set until an alternative vision is creative.
If that sounds abstract, here’s a simpler example.
Imagine a friend has just hired you to paint their house. You’ve got the color picked out, the cans of paint are there, and you have all the tools you need to get started. You finish one wall and your friend says that they want to change it but aren’t sure how. They leave it up to you.
You switch gears and with another favorable color. The friend likes the change at first but once you’ve repainted the first wall and moved onto the second, they change their mind. Now, you’re starting over once again.
So, what’s the solution?
Know what you’re doing and why (and be able to communicate it).
It’ll save everyone time when moments of self-doubt rear their ugly head.
Knows When to Ask Questions
There’s a good book called The Four Agreements, that speaks on the virtue of choosing not to assume when confused. Instead, it advocates merely ask questions.
We can’t stress how important this rule is when it comes to the workflow process of the average web developer. It really can’t be overstated.
Because after going back and forth on updates, timelines, and feedback, many developers/teams enter creative silos until the next round of edits and feedback. That means that if the direction is misunderstood in a critical way, days or even weeks can be lost before the next check-in.
Asking questions may feel uncomfortable, but trust us, you don’t want a UI developer that’s too shy to ask time-saving questions.
Strong Sense of Empathy
Perhaps the most important item on this list—second only to our final entry—your UI developer MUST (we repeat MUST) have a strong sense of empathy.
So, what is empathy?
Empathy means feeling the emotions of another.
And how does this pertain to UI development?
It pertains to everything. UI development touches a user’s experience as well as their interface with the product. As a result, a seasoned UI developer should have a clear sense of what a prospective user may think or feel when interacting with the product.
They have to be able to visualize this process if they hope to create an effective and truly intuitive product. So, find one that’s ready to embrace all of the feels.
Well-Versed and Experienced
This should go without saying but any UI developer you hire needs to be experienced—and not just in knowing programming languages. They also need to hold experience doing the type of project you’re trying to create, and more importantly, the field or industry that you operate in.
These kinds of intimate touch points make projects go much smoother, and will make your life much easier.
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Good UI Developer
Top-notch UI developers are certainly out there—we have some.
However, knowing where to find them and how to cross-reference them with others can be a hard skill to pick up. When in doubt, always do your research, ask questions, and refer to this list in the vetting process.
When it’s time to start your next project, you’ll be glad you did.
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