Last year I was struggling with labeling jobs in the User Experience sector. It seems to be hard to understand for some of us what the activities are with the different job titles. When I tell people that I’m a “… Designer”, they automatically think I’m a visual designer. That is very understandable if you know that User Centric Design, is not that old. It started around 1990, but I think it really got a lift since 2005, I think. When I finished my Bachelor in 2003, the amount of jobs for Interaction Designer in The Netherlands were very low. When you were lucky, you could start as a visual designer or frontend developer, and try to get a focus on the user in your way of working (user centric design).
Now, 10 years later, I realize that more job titles will be added. As we get experienced in User Centered Design we also continuously are improving our product and therefore have to specialize. How can we improve our product? How do we get the user involved in our design process?
User Experience, is a very large concept. You shouldn’t say to people that you are a “user experience designer”. It is very confusing. All Designers take piece of the cake to make the Experience of the User the best there is. It not only takes a designer to design a good user experience. It takes the whole company to do that. When focussing on a product, the designers have a huge responsibility, making the design the best experience for the user.
All Designers take a piece of the cake to make the Experience of the User, the best there is!
For this post I will state some job titles that I currently encounter in my daily work. What is in the name, what are the activities and what do I think were the focus should be for these job titles?
- Visual designer
Brings the User Interface to life from an aesthetic and brand perspective by deciding how it looks like.
The visual designer makes mockups. The focus should be on the attraction of the interface.
- Motion designer
A motion designer has knowledge about the behaviour of the product and is able to translate it to a real workable demo. By making storyboards and motion guidelines, the motion designer tries to get an agreement with the designteam what the behaviour of the product should be.
- Frontend developer (yes…developer)
The confusion with this job title is the “Developer” part. The actual activity of a Frontend developer is writing code that is related to the interface. That stated, I think that a good Frontend developer can combine the work of a User interface designer, visual designer and motion designer, in to a working demo. Further on in the process this developer helps the Backend developers to start with connecting the real data and backend Logic(s or a) to the user interface.
- User interface designer
Makes the user interface in a logic structure way.
An User interface designer, creates the best User interface there is by making a wireframes or prototypes from products. The focus for the User interface designer, is making a interface that works for the user.
- Interaction designer
An interaction designer is focussing the interaction between the user and the system by designing an interface.
An interaction designer does the information architecture by making flows, use cases and attributes. Then the interaction designer translates this to an usable interface.
- Usability testing expert
An Usability testing is providing you the experience, on how the user uses your product/interface. By doing a well prepared usability test, you get feedback from the user. The outcome can have high value for the end product. A usability testing expert is focussing on all kind of user testing with wireframes, prototypes or an end-product. By making sure the user protocol is waterproof, in that way he warrants the value of the data.
- UX researcher
The UX researcher does the research on who your user really is. He makes sure you know enough of the user, to design the best product. The UX Researcher gives us insights on the user, by gathering information from the user, with different kinds of user research methods.
For some companies this is a fairly new job function. Sometimes it can be found when UX Strategy is far embedded in the product developing process and part of the company focus.
- UX Strategist
Just like the ‘UX researcher’, this is a very young job title. In 2015 we can find the job title more often. At this moment I find two different reasons companies have this job function. One is focuses on the product UX strategy and the other on the Business UX Strategy. With the product UX stratagist you make sure that the product will get the best User Experience by focussing on the user. With the focus on Business UX strategy you make sure that there is a relation between the business strategy and what the user is experiencing over time.
By summing up these job titles, I realise that during my career I’ve don parts and/or all of the activities that comes with these job titles. All these jobs have in common that in the end you make sure that the end result of your design is the best there is. Although the activities can be very different and therefore different skills and experience are needed. So in my opinion the UX designer as a job title does not exist. With the similarities in place we can maybe refer to it as a profession.
All UX Designers are working together to give a product the best user experience!
To understand what is happening in all of these job titles is very important to me in my daily work. As they are so related to each other they help me to continuously review my product solutions and improve them. In the end, thinking from this high level into the details keeps me focusing on achieving the best user experience design.
UX Effectiveness, survey results. I like the diversity on job titles: