Web Developer vs. UX Researcher

Web developers and UX researchers are some of the most in demand jobs in the United States currently. While both can work together on a similar project, you may want to consider the specifics of these jobs before applying.

A web developer builds and programs user-friendly websites using coding languages. A user experience (UX) researcher seeks to get human insights in guiding design and how the application should be built to best serve the user. 

This article explores the differences between a web developer and a UX researcher.

Difference Between a Web Developer and a UX Researcher

Let’s look at this table to highlight the differences between a web developer and a UX researcher.

AreaWeb DevelopersUX Researchers
Job descriptionResponsible for programming and building user-friendly websites for clients.Identify actionable and data-driven human insights to guide product design.
Average annual salary as of August 2022$67,587 $111,876
Job satisfaction3.3 out of 55.4 out of 7 (average for UX practitioners)
Educational backgroundAssociate degree in any fieldBachelor’s degree in any field
Career growth potentialCan progress to technology-related roles such as computer programmer, software developer, systems analyst, database administrator, information security analyst. May also take a freelance route.Can take roles focusing on user experience, such as UX writer, UX designer, and product manager. May also venture into product design and marketing.
Table: Main differences between a Web developer and a UX researcher.

Here’s a deeper discussion of their differences:

Job Description

What does a UX researcher do vs web developer
The daily tasks of a UX researcher differ from web developers. Which one you will be better at comes down a lot to what personality you are and what you enjoy doing more.

Web Developers

Web developers are responsible for programming and building user-friendly websites for clients. Their job requires working knowledge of coding languages like:

  • HTML
  • XML
  • CSS
  • PHP
  • JavaScript

Web developers create and test applications for the websites they are building. 

They are also responsible for maintaining and updating the website and troubleshooting possible issues. Web developers may collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to grasp their requirements for the website they are trying to build.

There are three categories of web developers:

  • Back-end web developers make the website’s structure and coding on the server. 
  • Front-end web developers are responsible for implementing the website’s visual design using front-end coding languages and frameworks. 
  • Full-stack developers have extensive knowledge and experience in back-end and front-end web development. 

Some of the skills required in a web developer position include the following:

  • Coding
  • Search engine optimization
  • Communication skills
  • Organization
  • Customer service
  • Problem solving and critical thinking skills

UX Researchers

UX researchers are responsible for gathering user insights for product design. They focus on creating a data-driven research strategy to identify a product’s user profiles, location, and preferences to aid product development. UX researchers present their research findings to designers and other stakeholders.

In creating a data-driven research strategy, UX researchers define the questions and identify the data collection method based on the needs of the product designers and other stakeholders to gather user insights. They also have a say in the timeline and budget of the research project, as well as the recruitment of potential participants.

Apart from research skills, some of the skills expected of a UX researcher include the following:

  • Problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Project management
  • Design thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Collaboration
Video: What is UX Research? | Google UX Design Certificate

Average Annual Salary

As of August 2022, the average salary of a web developer is $67,587 in a year, with some companies offering as high as $150,000. On the other hand, a UX researcher earns an annual average of $111,876, with one company offering as high as $274,000.

New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are the highest paying cities for web developers. UX researchers can expect higher pay if they work in the California cities of Menlo Park, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Job Satisfaction

According to a CareerExplorer survey, web developers rate their job satisfaction at an average of 3.3 stars out of 5. They feel that their personality fits with their work as a web developer, and they enjoy the environment they are working for. Most are also happy with how their skills are best utilized.

In a 2020 survey by Nielsen Norman Group, UX practitioners, including researchers, rate their satisfaction at 5.4 out of 7. Many UX practitioners are happy with the process of their work, the opportunities available for their career, and the fulfillment of seeing how their work impacts others. They are also satisfied with the recognition they are receiving for their work.

Educational Background

Web Developers

Although an associate degree is the essential requirement for employment in the United States, there is no academic degree requirement to become a web developer. You can become one without formal web development education as there are online courses for anyone to learn coding languages.

However, it will be helpful for those who seek career advancement in web development to take a degree in:

  • Computer science
  • Web design
  • User experience

Certifications can also help in making a web developer marketable through upskilling.

Video: Web development for beginners: What does a web developer do?

UX Researchers

To land a job as a UX researcher, a bachelor’s degree is required, although it doesn’t have to be in user experience. Anyone with a degree in the following fields can apply for a UX researcher position:

  • Behavioral sciences
  • Technology
  • Psychology
  • Social sciences
  • Statistics or applied mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Information systems
  • Design

Career Growth Potential

Web developers can progress to other technology-related roles including:

  • Computer programmers
  • Software developers
  • Systems analysts
  • Database administrators
  • Information security analysts. 

They may also take a freelance route if they feel the corporate setup isn’t for them.

UX researchers may take other roles focusing on user experience, such as UX writer, UX designer, and product manager. They can also branch out into product design and marketing roles.

Which Is Better: Web Developer or UX Researcher?

A web developer job will suit you if you want to pursue a career in information technology. A UX researcher position is better if you want a higher salary and are interested in human interaction and product design.

Final Thoughts

A web developer focuses on creating and maintaining a user-friendly website for their clients. A UX researcher seeks to gain insights on how a person uses their products that will aid developers and designers in developing their products.

Whether you choose to be a web developer or a UX researcher, it has to come down to your career and salary preferences.

You might also be interested in