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Insights from a Design Developer at Microsoft


Kham Udom is a Design Developer for Microsoft. He was kind enough to answer five questions about his role and give advice to anyone looking to succeed in his field.

What does your job involve?

As a Design Developer, I am part of the design team. I help Designers and Engineers bridge the gap in bringing the UI and UX to life on the Xbox. 

The role of a Design Developer is someone who implements UI/UX design. I would say a good Design Developer is someone who cares about how the UI looks, is an advocate to the designers, and specializes in their prefered coding environment.  

I work closely with PMs, Designers and Engineers. We work on prototypes, and production (implementing to polishing UI) in a coding environment. XAML and C# are my prefered coding languages. There is animation involved, but its more of a UI/UX animation.

How did you get this job?

I was working on the Windows Phone team for a little under a year, in a similar role as a Design Integrator. I was later hired on by the Xbox team to help create the Xbox One. Before coming to Microsoft, I worked as a 3D Environment Artist for 12 years in the gaming industry. I graduated from The Art Institute of Seattle majoring in Computer Animation.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to succeed in your field?

1. Be a team player. A great team wants someone who is reliable and willing to jump in and help when needed. When everyone in the team has this mind set, it makes the work environment more enjoyable to be in, because they can all count on one another.

2. Be flexible. Often the project never goes the way you expect it to. So when you are flexible and nimble, you are ready to make any changes to the work. Sometimes you may need to fix something that would take 4 days in one day.

3. Be willing to learn. In this field and any other software related fields, technology is always changing and growing. It doesn't matter if you are a designer or a developer you should always be learning and understanding the industry. The product you create can also be evolved to be better.

How do you see your job evolving in the coming years?

‘Design Developer’ is still a relatively new job role, I don't know of any other company that has this type of role except for Microsoft. By proving the importance of having Design Developers integrated into a project, we can continue to help designers implement and polish their vision of the product. We can also give the engineering team the ability to focus on making features work and not have to worry about how things look. 

What project are you working on right now?

The Xbox One is still our big project. It was just released in November of 2013. Currently I am helping address a lot of customer feedback and implementing ways to continually evolve the Xbox One.

What qualities do you think are needed in a Design Developer?

I think the best Design Developers are passionate about design (even if they don’t specialize in it) and love to code.

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