Tuesday, Oct 20 2015

UI Architects: Do You Have What it Takes to Make Everyone Else's Lives Easier?

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UI Architects Do You Have What it Takes to Make Everyone Elses Lives Easier

Code is important, but code is invisible. No matter how elegant the code, end users never see it. End users don't interact with code; they interact with buttons, images, links, lists, and menus. Those interface items and the sequence of clicks they have to make to accomplish something are how they judge their experience with a website or software application, and that's why the UI architect role is critical in developing successful software.

Although the UI Architect role is defined differently in different companies, you should expect to have the following abilities to fulfill job responsibilities:

Understand End Users

UI architects need to understand how software works, but it's more important that they understand how people work. By understanding how people want to work, they can design interfaces that streamline the processes and make them fun, instead of frustrating. Study psychology and human-computer interaction to understand how to achieve this.

Understand Interface Tools

Although the user interface is used by end users and created by UI designers, the functionality it accesses is implemented by developers. That means it's necessary to understand the complexity of the application behind the interface and what's involved in implementing it. In some organizations, the UI architect may implement interface components and needs to be skilled with front-end development tools like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and common frameworks.

Understand Teams

UI architects never work alone; no software project consists solely of a UI. It's therefore important that the architect work well with teams. Creating the interface architecture requires communicating with both developers and users. It also requires the ability to meet short project deadlines, especially as most projects turn to agile development and deliver in two week sprints.

Understand Technology

Today's applications need to run in multiple environments: desktop, web browser, mobile web, tablet, phone – even watch. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of each environment is key to designing an effective, enjoyable user experience.

Creative Skills

Most of all, the UI architect role requires the ability to envision something that doesn't exist yet. UI architects use their understanding of users, developers, technology, and tools to design a brand new way of accomplishing a task. When done at its best, it's hard to imagine any other way of doing it.