When you come across a UX designer, or a vacancy for one, you often have to read between the lines to find out exactly what you are dealing with. Everyone has their own definition of the role and what does or doesn’t fall within a UX designer’s scope, depending on the vision of that specific organisation. So how can we figure it out?
the key components of a UX designer
Regardless of the way the UX designer is deployed in an organisation, there are a number of universally agreed aspects to the role that give us a workable framework. The UX designer understands the path that the user should ideally follow online and adjusts the design to achieve this goal. Qualitative and quantitative research on this subject is of crucial importance. Note: the actual visual design is only the last step in this journey. To get a clear overview, it’s very important that the UX designer works closely with UI designers, data professionals, Customer Experience Experts as well as Business Developers. Only then is the UX designer able to get the overview needed to achieve the best possible design.
why ‘UX design’ is an umbrella term
In many organisations, concepts such as UX designer/consultant/strategist and UI/visual designer are fluid and interchangeable. The boundaries between the roles are not always sharply defined and can lead to uncertainty about the tasks and responsibilities expected of that person or department. Likewise, not every UX designer will have the same knowledge of UI and visual design, so even the designer might not have a clear idea of what the expectations are. This can even differ considerably per client, regardless of the knowledge and expertise of the UX designers. In larger organisations, the delineations between the UX and UI designer are often more clearly defined, as are those of Interaction designers or other data professionals.
why ‘UX design’ is not an umbrella term, but a broad specialism
The term ‘broad specialism’ is a bit of a contradiction in terms, making it all the more fitting to describe this complex field. What exactly is meant by UX design is so broad and subject to interpretation that it is a catch-all phrase for many overlapping specialties. A UX designer may have in-depth knowledge of anything ranging from storytelling, typography or art direction, for example. These are not mutually exclusive, but the focus is just on another point. For candidates, it’s important to know what you enjoy most and where your strengths lie; for clients, it’s crucial to know where they are lacking and which missing expertise will complete the team.
it begins with vision and strategy
Precisely because the job title of UX designer is so broad, it’s all the more important to define the framework for this position. Ask yourself: why do I need a UX designer? How would you define this term and what place does this role occupy within the existing team? What are the responsibilities of the current team members and where are you left wanting? Simply looking for a ‘UX designer’ is pointless. Define the role into clear goals and KPIs and start looking for the most suitable person with this vision in mind. This person might not even call themself a UX designer!
So, what is it? Is it or isn’t it an umbrella term? We believe it depends on the person, their expertise, the role they have within an organisation and the responsibilities that go along with it. Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward, nor is the role of the UX designer.
Want to bounce some ideas around on this subject? Get in touch with BrandPit to hear our vision and share your own!