Tag Archives: jobs

Doesn’t anyone just need a UI Developer anymore?

So in light of the fact that I maybe be unemployed soon due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve started to reacquaint myself with the job market and the jobs that I might be qualified for.  It’s been an interesting experience to say the least.  Unfortunately, there seems to be two prevailing job types:

  • Marketing position – involves either designing e-mail campaigns include HTML e-mails, which are not fun at all, or some sort of SEO / social networking skills to drive traffic to the site.
  • Jack of all trades – involves 7+ years experience in design (Adobe Suite), front end (XHTML & CSS), middleware (PHP, Java, Ruby, etc) and MySql.  Basically able to design web applications from the ground up.

So, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m looking with the wrong terms or in the wrong places?  Doesn’t anyone just need a good UI developer nowadays?  I mean I have excellent XHTML and CSS skills.  I can design for cross browser compatibility.  I can quickly turn design flats / mocks / comps into UI code.  I’m learning quickly when it comes to design skills (Adobe Suite) and I have a Commercial Arts background – granted it was in high school but I studied art and drew art by hand for 4 years.  I’m willing and eager to take on the design part of the UI – something I haven’t been able to do in my previous positions.  I have some Javascript – including Prototype and jQuery – skills and would be interested in eager to take on more with regards to the UI aspect of these (effects, etc) although not really the parts that go more into middleware (form handling, etc).  I have some middleware capabilities as they pertain to the UI – logic checks, loops, role checks, variable insertion, etc in Ruby, ColdFusion and PHP – as well as experience building on the WordPress framework in PHP.  I have experience in SEO including crafting with web standards and internal linking strategy to maximize organic SEO as well as instructing a user base on social networking strategies to grow inbound links.  Finally, I have experience working with and educating a large user base as well as identifying usability issues for that user base in future design features.

So, being a realist, I have to assume the deficiency is with me.  However, I’ve worked for two separate professional organizations and both needed someone that was only a subset of what I’m looking to take on.  So is there no middle ground?  Can you only do the icing or the whole cake?  I hope not.

The main issue lies in that to be a good UI developer you have to focus on the changing field.  New browsers are released every year and updates are made.  You have to be aware of what bugs exist in major browsers – especially Microsoft ones – and understand quickly how to fix the rendering issues in those.  You also have it identify web trends (web 2.0 design, AJAX integration, etc) and include them in beautiful and usable designs. By broadening focus too much – to middleware or backend development – you lose the ability to do that.  I realize you don’t want to be too specialized but I feel crafting a beautiful design, coding it with web standards and cross browser capability in mind, and inserting any jQuery effects that add to it is a pretty big slice of the pie, so to speak.

Also, design and UI work is more artistic versus middleware / backend which is much more logical and analytical.  So it’s very difficult to be of those two minds.  I just feel expanding the focus to that is going to dilute the whole output.  Finally, it really is of no interest to me to design controllers or write queries so I feel my output would not be as useful or good as something I’m passionate about like the front end.

So I don’t know what the answer is.  But I’m discouraged moving forward.  It does make me wish I had taken more time to grow my freelance portfolio as this would be the perfect time to make that jump and see if I could make it on that.  Unfortunately, it’s just not an option.

Advice or insight welcome.