I have created many apps throughout my career. Some apps, such as the Finxter Python learning app, have reached millions of users over the years.
While I’m not a professional web designer (by education), I was taught the hard way (by trial and error) that there are some crucial and timeless skills you need to master as a User Interface developer no matter what.
This list of 20 tips is my best-of compilation. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in! 👇
Skill 1: HTML/CSS
HTML and CSS are the building blocks of any website, and a must-have for any UI developer.
HTML is the structural markup language used to create webpages, while CSS is the styling language used to make them look attractive.
🌍 Recommended: Full-Stack Web Developer — Income and Opportunity
Skill 3: Responsive Design
Responsive design ensures that a website looks and functions great on any device (e.g., mobile devices).
UI developers must be able to create websites that look great on any screen size, from mobile phones to large desktop displays.
🌍 Recommended: Mobile App Developer — Income and Opportunity
Skill 4: Wireframing
Wireframing is the process of creating a blueprint of a website or web application. UI developers need to be able to create wireframes to plan out the structure and layout of a website.
This skill especially requires you to be able to communicate effectively with your clients and project owners.
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Skill 5: User Interface Design
User interface design is the process of creating user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces for websites and web applications.
UI developers need to understand the principles of good design to be able to create interfaces that are both attractive and easy to use.
🌍 Recommended: Less Is More in Design
Skill 6: User Experience Design
User experience design is the process of creating engaging and meaningful experiences for users of websites and web applications.
UI developers need to understand the principles of user experience and dive deep into users’ emotions so they can create enjoyable and fun experiences.
Skill 7: Cross-Browser Compatibility
Cross-browser compatibility is the ability of a website or web application to work properly across multiple types of web browsers.
UI developers need to ensure that their websites and applications look and function properly on all types of browsers.
Skill 8: Version Control
Version control is a system used to track and manage changes to files and documents. UI developers need to be able to use version control to keep track of changes and ensure that their work is up to date.
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Skill 9: Debugging
Yes, we all know it and fear it: debugging.
Debugging is the process of finding and fixing errors in a website or web application. UI developers need to be able to debug their code to ensure that their websites and applications are functioning correctly.
🌍 Recommended: Debugging in PyCharm — The Right Way
Skill 10: Testing/QA
Testing and Quality Assurance are processes used to ensure that a website or web application is functioning correctly before it is released. UI developers need to be able to test their work and ensure that it meets the specified requirements.
Testing is often not done correctly or follows too strict rules. In my world, when I create apps, I just play with them, pressing any button and inputting all kinds of stupid things to test my app. This has brought to light many more errors than standard unit tests.
Skill 11: Building User Interfaces with Frameworks
Frameworks are used to simplify the process of building user interfaces. UI developers need to be familiar with the most popular frameworks in order to create modern and efficient user interfaces.
Here’s a table I created to show the income distributions of different PHP frameworks:
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Skill 12: Accessibility and Usability
Accessibility and usability are two important aspects of user interface design. In fact, there’s a huge megatrend towards creating more accessible user interfaces — often, they are legally required!
It’s a big growth market — unbelievable, isn’t it? 😉
UI developers need to be able to design interfaces that are both accessible and usable to provide the best user experience.
Skill 13: Interaction Design
Interaction design is the process of creating user interactions that are both intuitive and efficient. UI developers need to be able to create interactions that are easy to use and don’t require a lot of effort from the user.
Skill 14: Web Design Principles
Web design principles are the fundamental rules that should be followed when designing websites and web applications. UI developers need to understand these principles to create attractive and effective interfaces.
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The Art of Clean Code
Most software developers waste thousands of hours working with overly complex code. The eight core principles in The Art of Clean Coding will teach you how to write clear, maintainable code without compromising functionality. The book’s guiding principle is simplicity: reduce and simplify, then reinvest energy in the important parts to save you countless hours and ease the often onerous task of code maintenance.
- Concentrate on the important stuff with the 80/20 principle — focus on the 20% of your code that matters most
- Avoid coding in isolation: create a minimum viable product to get early feedback
- Write code cleanly and simply to eliminate clutter
- Avoid premature optimization that risks over-complicating code
- Balance your goals, capacity, and feedback to achieve the productive state of Flow
- Apply the Do One Thing Well philosophy to vastly improve functionality
- Design efficient user interfaces with the Less is More principle
- Tie your new skills together into one unifying principle: Focus
The Python-based The Art of Clean Coding is suitable for programmers at any level, with ideas presented in a language-agnostic manner.
Skill 15: Graphic Design
Graphic design is the process of creating visuals and graphics for websites and web applications. UI developers need to be able to create attractive visuals to make their websites look appealing.
🌍 Recommended: Graphic Designer and Front-End Web Developer
Skill 16: Object-Oriented Programming
Object-oriented programming is a programming paradigm used to create complex websites and web applications. UI developers must understand this programming paradigm to create efficient and powerful web applications.
🌍 Recommended: Object-Oriented Programming in Python
Skill 17: Animation and Effects
Animations and effects are used to create dynamic and engaging user interfaces. UI developers need to be able to create animations and effects to make their websites more attractive and engaging.
Skill 18: Mobile App Design
Mobile app design is the process of designing user interfaces for mobile applications. UI developers need to understand the principles of mobile app design in order to create engaging and user-friendly apps.
🌍 Recommended: Top 6 Mobile App Development Career Paths in 2023
Skill 19: Front-End Performance Optimization
Front-end performance optimization is the process of optimizing a website or web application to make it faster and more efficient. UI developers must understand optimization principles to create fast and efficient websites and web applications.
🌍 Recommended: Premature Optimization is the Root of All Evil!
Skill 20: Data Visualization
Data visualization is the process of creating visuals that represent data in an easy-to-understand way. UI developers need to be able to create effective data visualizations to make complex data easier to understand.
Personally, I’d recommend you check out Plotly Dash — a Python framework for easy development of dashboard apps:
🌍 Recommended: Create Your First App in Plotly Dash
If you’re interested in learning more about how to create beautiful dashboard applications in Python, check out our new book Python Dash.
You’ve seen dashboards before; think election result visualizations you can update in real-time, or population maps you can filter by demographic.
With the Python Dash library, you’ll create analytic dashboards that present data in effective, usable, elegant ways in just a few lines of code.
Get the book on NoStarch or Amazon!
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com that has taught exponential skills to millions of coders worldwide. He’s the author of the best-selling programming books Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), The Art of Clean Code (NoStarch 2022), and The Book of Dash (NoStarch 2022). Chris also coauthored the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books. He’s a computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.