UXE: What Is a UX Engineer?

Ultimate Xylophone engineer? That’s what you mean when you say UX engineer (UXE), right? We’re kidding, of course. A xylophone is not the first thing anyone thinks of when they hear UX engineer. But what exactly is the first thing? What is a UX engineer? And, can Devmountain help you with your UX design skills in preparation for pursuing UX-related goals?

If you’ve been digging around job postings, you might have noticed a lot of opportunities for this mysterious UX engineer. So, tech companies seem to be looking for UXEs, but the actual specifics of the position also seem to differ from place to place.

Some companies may require a heavy front-end developer skillset while other organizations may want a good mix of UX engineer skills across the full-stack.

Let’s take a closer look at just what a UXE is, what they do, and what it takes to become one.

What Is a UX Engineer?

A UX engineer (UX= user experience) is usually a front-end engineer who works on a design team, facilitating collaboration between engineering and design. UX engineers bring together technical know-how and design aesthetics. They partner with programmers, researchers, designers, and more to conceptualize to deliver an effective user experience.

A UX engineer often has the skillset of a front-end engineer but also the working know-how of UX design principles. Don’t be confused though; a UX engineer is not a UX designer.

The difference between the two is that a UX designer is more involved in user research, making sure they’ve considered the look and feel of a product before they actually start designing. They worry about things like color palettes, fonts, and icons.

And, at Devmountain, you can learn UX design in 13 weeks full-time or 16 weeks part-time.

What Does a UX Engineer Do?

In general, the role of a UX engineer is to help build design systems — the set of assets and guidelines that convey the identity within flagship products and applications. These design systems can be comprised of three sections: the style guide, design language, and component library. Within each of these sections, the UX engineer will have a set of skills to help fulfill the responsibilities.

More About Design Systems

In the design language, you have the visual design assets and branding guidelines like the color palette, typography scale, animation library, and accessibility guidelines. Under the component library, you have the coded components that are built using CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. In the style guide, you have the actual website that encapsulates the component library and design language.

What This Boils Down To

Ultimately, a UX engineer is a translator. Although their role may vary from company to company, the major responsibilities that many UXEs share are:

  • Transform the design language into a component library, coded in a framework or library
  • Promote the adoption of the design system throughout the organization
  • Turn low-fidelity designs into high-fidelity prototypes using the component library
  • Improve communication and collaboration between the engineering and design teams
  • Build the style guide website for the design system

How to Become a UX Engineer

What Is a UX Engineer?

If you’re interested in becoming a UX engineer, you can focus on front-end development skills along with user experience knowledge. Although the requirements for a UXE will vary from company to company, there are certain skills you will want to consider for your arsenal.

  • UI design skills such as Sketch, Adobe Creative Suite, and Figma
  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript experience
  • CSS pre-processor tools experience
  • Build tools experience, such as with Webpack or Gulp
  • Experience with responsive design programming
  • Testing and debugging experience
  • Understanding of design patterns
  • Version control experience
  • Familiarity with package and dependency managers, like npm and Yarn

Some other important UX engineer skills you may want to develop are communication, problem-solving, and proactiveness. Since UX engineers can work with the design team, engineering team, and product management, they need to be able to have autonomy over their work while also being able to work well with multiple teams.

Here’s a list of UX books to get started with.

Where You Can Start Learning

If you have ever felt like the brainchild of a tech-savvy mom and an artistic dad but haven’t known where to go with your gift, then user experience engineering or design may be the right thing for you. You can marry your love for the technical aspects of development with design while creating some awesome stuff. And, you can start with Devmountain’s 13-week UX Design course.

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