UI stands for User Interface. UI developers use a mix of knowledge from different fields – software engineering, visual design, psychology, data analysis – to build beautiful interfaces used to control software and hardware. They’re often called UI engineers, GUI (Graphical User Interface) designers, and there are different specializations (Mobile UI, Web UI, etc).
UI developers are becoming increasingly important in the software industry, where in the face of growing competition, businesses need every advantage they can get over competing products. To succeed, UI specialists need to combine design and development skills with knowledge about how people use software.
The interface of a programme means all the details and parts of it that can be controlled by the user. A screen, keyboard, mouse, and any other additional controllers are part of the computer interface. Buttons, lists, windows, folders, and functions are part of software interfaces.
For UI developers, software is a collection of elements, and their role is to make them cooperate in delivering the best possible experience for the end user. They are concerned with the aesthetics, functionality, as well as security of software.
They learn about the intricacies of the interplay of all parts that make software work – from the front-end, through the back-end, operating systems, all the way to the hardware.
Which is why UI developers are rarely 100% artistic and creative in nature. This line of work requires strong analytical and technicals skills. The goals of UI design are: to guarantee functionality of the interface, to make it convenient, easy, and pleasurable to use, and to make it visually appealing.
Back in the day, the first computers didn’t have enough computing power to create complex user interfaces. But this changed when the command line interface was introduced, first as a blank display screen with an input field. People primarily used the keyboard to operate computers with text commands. The pinnacle of this UI era were text menus.
The next revolution in User Interfaces was the graphical user interface (GUI), which was created in a Palo Alto Research Center owned by Xerox, then used and greatly improved in Apple, and eventually standardized with the introduction of Microsoft Windows. This meant a whole lot of new UI elements to play with – buttons, scroll bars, icons, folders, windows, pull-down menus.
As software development progressed, it moved towards cloud servers and web applications, which made way for a new specialisation – Web UI.
With the introduction and popularisation of smartphones and tablets, a new category of UI was born – Mobile UI, focused around touch screens.
Now there’s a new specialisation that’s becoming increasingly important in the tech market, which is Virtual / Augmented Reality UI.