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UI Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
No two UI engineers are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Gather Project Requirements Before creating any actual designs, UI engineers meet with managers, product design professionals, and other engineers to discuss how users can best use the website. This includes considering features offered and the placement of content on the page across different devices, including phones, tablets, and computers.
Create User-Facing Designs UI engineers use the project's requirements and their UI design skills to create prototypes of how the webpage will look. They create wireframes and mockups outlining content placement and even prototypes to present to the company's engineering team.
Debug Code UI engineers fix errors in their code both during development and after the website goes live. They continually check that the website works properly as they write the code, and when users report problems using a part of the website, UI engineers run tests to find and resolve the issue.
Improve User Interfaces Even after the website is bug-free and works fine for users, UI engineers constantly seek ways to improve the user interface. They use their creativity and expertise to improve usability and add new functionality.
UI Engineer Skills and QualificationsUI engineers must understand a user's point of view to make effective design decisions. They should also have a bachelor's degree and samples of design work that demonstrate their coding and design skills. Employers also look for the following abilities:
- Understanding of user interface design - UI engineers anticipate the challenges users may have using a website and have expertise in how to structure page content to make it understandable and easy to navigate
- Familiarity with databases - since UI engineers often write code that accesses data on the web, they need to understand how databases work and how to run queries to access the desired data
- Problem-solving skills - it takes an effective problem-solver to debug code that causes the page not to render properly as well as to run tests that check for usability issues
- Communication skills - since gathering and understanding requirements is key to making effective user interface designs, UI engineers communicate clearly with others on the team to make sure the design fits all needs
UI Engineer Education and TrainingUI engineers can find work with a bachelor's degree in graphic design, web design, computer science, web development, or a similar field. These degree programs cover computer programming languages, design principles, networking, systems analysis, and data structures, among other technical topics. Some of these programs offer concentrations in design that can benefit a UI engineer and teach concepts such as wireframing and user experience design. UI engineers may also need additional online or in-classroom training to learn to use graphics software.
UI Engineer Salary and OutlookThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups UI engineers with other web developers and lists their median salary as about $68,000 a year. UI engineers in the 10th percentile earn about $37,000 a year, and the highest paid earn more than $122,000 a year. UI engineers who work full time for large companies often receive benefits packages including paid vacation and holidays, medical and dental insurance, and retirement savings programs. Some companies also help pay for continuing education. According to the BLS, UI engineers and other web developers can expect strong employment growth at a rate of 15 percent through 2026, about twice the average across all occupations. UI engineers who can make websites that work on multiple devices, know several programming languages, and can use graphics software have the best prospects.
Does working as a UI engineer sound right for you? These resources can teach you more about the field and help you connect with other industry professionals:
User Experience (UX) / User Interface (UI) / Interaction Design (IxD) / IA / Discussions / Jobs - this LinkedIn group provides a place for UI professionals to discuss design applications and coding languages as well as find local events and jobs in the field
The Essential Guide to User Interface Design: An Introduction to GUI Design Principles and Techniques - author Wilbert O. Galitz has several decades of experience creating user interface designs. This book offers insights from over 300 studies he conducted about how people use user interfaces and how to best structure designs to make them comfortable and easy to understand
User Experience Professionals Association - this organization offers guides and training on how to improve the user experience, as well as mentoring. It also hosts an annual conference and offers local chapters to help members network with other professionals
Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design - designed to help UI engineers follow design patterns to create effective user interfaces for websites, mobile apps, and other software, this guide provides practical advice on organization, navigation, data presentation, and user input
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