TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Difference Between UI & Frontend Developers

Szymon Bieluczyk
By Szymon Bieluczyk
mvpvsprototype pagepro

Introduction

Quite often, during complex projects, it’s natural for us to split roles of Frontend and UI developers. Nevertheless, non – technical people don’t always understand this decision.

To make it super simple, the front-end developer’s goal is to deliver a complete product according to certain specifications.

UI developer’s goal, on the other hand, is more about delivering a set of assets such as buttons, tooltips, and other modular pieces that are needed by front-end developers.

What about the need for a split? Why are we doing it anyway?

As a result, this solution enables frontend and UI developers to be laser-focused on a particular job. And that makes this particular job done with much more accurate precision.

If you take into consideration such an option but are not convinced, this article will explain to you the basic differences between the UI and the frontend development as well as clarify the specific division of their responsibilities.

Let’s start.

Difference between Frontend and UI

What is the frontend?

Frontend development, in general meaning, is everything that users can click on, using a web application or being on a website. In more technical terms, it is the practice of producing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for a website or Web App that users can interact with. It also represents the layer presentation in software.

What is UI?

Referring to the definition of UI – The user Interface stands for every single detail that the user interacts with or even controls. In other words, the UI is everything that users simply see​​.

UI vs UX

User Interface and User Experience are two similar and interdependent terms. However, there is a significant difference between each of them. UI takes care of the interaction between users and computer software while UX takes care of common user experience linked with product or service brands.

To understand the difference, let’s take a website condition, which might look great but be really hard to use (great UI but terrible UX). In this way, UX and UI go side-by-side.

User InterfaceUser Experience
Deals specifically with digital devices and people’s ability to use themDeals with interaction with a brand, product, or even service
Refers to how a client is able to use the productRefers to how using a product makes the user feel
Is about a specific visual touchpoint or asset the user interacts with.Covers all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, 
According to the cosmetics of experience, typography, color spacing, grids, icons, buttons.
Refers to the core of the experience

3 Differences between Frontend and UI development

After getting on well with what frontend and UI are, it’s time to wrap it up by distinguishing major differences between them in order to get a clear understanding of these aspects.

Frontend DevelopmentUser Interface Development
Producing, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for a website or Web App that users can interact withA technical approach that aims to optimize the interaction between users and software systems
Represents the layer presentation in the softwareStands for forecasting and anticipating the needs of users by building certain inputs to take a user where they need to go
Every aspect that users can click on, using a web application or being on a websiteThe process itself uses a set of icons, buttons, colors, ​and visual elements to contribute to a better experience. 

What does a UI developer do?

It is also worth emphasizing the fact that frontend and UI programmers do slightly different things.

UI developer work

Firstly, What are the roles and responsibilities of a UI programmer? UI developers are responsible for the look, and presentation of web pages as well as applications along with ensuring their functionality. Their experience is a combination of design skills and technical know-how. They are also responsible for the visual apprehension of the user interfaces.

Common UI developers duties

  • Customer flow analysis
  • UI design research
  • UI prototyping
  • Coding and design

UI components library 

The UI library is a set of reusable interface components that contains a wide variety of building blocks available to developers. Those blocks could be buttons, inputs, dialog boxes, and so on. The main role of UI components is to be used as reusable elements to build various systems.

What does a Frontend developer do?

The Frontend Developer work

Whenever you visit a website, anything that you see, click on, or use is the work of a front-end developer. A front-end developer has one general responsibility: to ensure that website visitors can easily interact with the page. They do this through the combination of design, technology, and programming code.

Common Front-end developers duties

  • Developing features to enhance the UX
  • Ensuring that UX determines the design
  • Building reusable code for future use
  • Optimising web pages for maximum speed and scalability

Frontend Developers vs UI Developers

The responsibilities of a UI developer are a subset of the responsibilities of a frontend developer. In other words, both developers’ positions somehow are connected with each other according to technologies, tools, and activities that they perform on web development projects.

To get a clear distinction between frontend developers and UI developers we need to have a closer look at how they work during the day, what skills and tools they use, and what they are responsible for. Those factors will be skills, responsibilities, tools they use, and focus objects.

Tools they use

UI Developer:Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Figma, Invisio, Miro
Front-end Developer: Web Browsers, Integrated Development Environment

Skills

UI Developer:Design, Engineering, Psychology
Front-end Developer: A broad range of cross-industry skills: Programming, algorithms, web architecture, database architecture, method engineering

Responsibilities

UI Developer:To build the visual aspect of the website
Front-end Developer: To make the visual aspect work and clickable

Focus on

UI Developer:To create a visually appealing and convenient interface. In addition, it’s worth mentioning aesthetics, user flow, design principles, style, branding.
Front-end Developer: To make the interface work properly and smoothly and fulfill its functions for the user.  In addition, it’s worth mentioning usability, integration with back-end, tech stack limitations.

Do not mistake UI Developer with UI/UX Designer

UI Developers get confused with UI/UX Designers. This is caused by the effect that both may work closely together. However, it’s crucial to note that UX/UI designers place much more emphasis on aspects of usability and are more concerned with the overall feel of a product. On the other hand, UI Developers are more visual and tend to follow the path a UX designer lays out.

How do we work at Pagepro?

The main reason why we divide these roles at Pagepro is that we want to be focused on the pixel-perfect implementation of tech design. And that’s why we believe these roles should be separated.

What UI developer hands over to the frontend developer?

In general, our UI developers need to prepare a set of components such as buttons, inputs, controls, radio buttons, and styles. Prepared components are used in the whole application.

Everything that has been done by the UI developer is located in repositories. It could be a repository as GitLab or GitHub.

What does frontend dev expect to have from UI dev?

The main role of a Front-end developer is to link views and objects prepared by UI developers, with real data. It’s about linking UI elements with the API.

Above all, Frontend developer work is based on UI developer results. They are obligated to develop features and determine the structure along with the design of selected web pages.

In that way to enhance and ensure user experience. They add such aspects as logic, validation, redirection, and toggle modal. In other words, this stage is about transforming a model prepared by a UI developer into a real-life digital product.

Conclusion

To summarise, why is this process of splitting duties between UI and frontend developers a good and efficient idea?

It ensures smooth work, significant quality of details, time savings, and reduction of failures.

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