Email Responses #3: UX Designer or Front-End Developer?

I am currently going through the frustration of working in a traditional ‘waterfall agency’. They are not going to change process, client work is suffering and it’s got to the point that I am looking for a new job.

Like yourself, I am very much a designer with front end skills (design, css3, html5, responsive, 12 years experience) minus the heavy duty javascript skills. I can work around JS with some jquery or sourcing plugins that work.

My question to you is whether my skillset covers both the ux designer and front end dev role? I see many job opportunities for both but it’s sometimes difficult to choose between.

I’m of the belief that every person who helps make a product is a UX designer. The copy editor who’s making content easy to read and navigate is a UX designer. The backend developer who’s making the site secure and fast is a UX designer. The visual designer who’s using color, typography, and texture to make the site easier to use is a UX designer.  Etc. Etc.

I don’t necessarily think you have to choose between the two. Quite honestly, most organizations don’t recognize front-end design (a shorthand I use for a UI-focused frontend developer) as a thing, so that wouldn’t necessarily be reflected in job postings.

I’d say apply to places for both these roles, and when you land interviews explain what skills you have, what problems you enjoy solving, and what topics you’re passionate about. Talk about the importance of mortar. If the interviewer responds with “sorry, we’re looking for someone to crank out a bunch of static wireframes” or “sorry, we’re looking for someone who can build out this RESTful API” then I’d say it’s better to pass than be pigeon-holed. But there most certainly are opportunities out there for you to do what you do best. You have to be willing to articulate what you want in order to get it. And once you get it, have the courage to work the way you need to rather than be stifled by a finite bulleted list of job requirements.