UX or user experience design is an umbrella term that is still very tricky to understand. There are so many different types of jobs that big companies invest in. You might be a little confused as to what all of these different roles mean, and even to which role you actually belong to. Let’s break down the most important ones out there right now.
Addressing the “umbrella term”
There is a lot of things that come under the term user experience design. It is the user-centeredness of a product’s design, the content, and the visual aesthetic of it.
To achieve this user-centered design, all of these aspects need to be pulled off properly.
As a UX designer, they have many responsibilities. Yes, the main tasks might differ from company to company but the skills are usually the same.
Every UX designer needs to know about the following:
- Human-computer interaction
- User research
- Information architechture
- User interface design
- UX writing
🦄 What about unicorn UI/UX designers?
You might have come across the term Unicorn UI/UX designers. This is a fairly new “job role” that has been getting a lot of attention.
I put the term “job role” in quotation because it is not really one. But a lot of designers like to think that it is.
Yes, there might be certain companies that list jobs titled “UX Unicorn” but it's rare and also not a very good decision.
It’s always better to have different specialists for different roles than an all-in-one designer.
I won’t dive deep into this, I’ll just let Jacob Nielsen, who is one of the best experts in the industry, explain it to you.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the job roles that are actually in demand and important in UX these days.
🌌 UX Strategist
The obvious part we know about UX designers is their ability to design user-centered apps. But what about the client or business owners or the company? What about their goals? What bout the future of UX or Design Thinking in the company?
This is where a UX strategist can be useful. A UX strategist is responsible for aligning a company’s business goals with a user-centered approach.
In many cases when companies are going through a transformation, a UX strategist plays a key role in defining the future UX and Design thinking strategy for the company. UX strategist's role is to create a future path that can be followed.
A UX strategist usually works with several stakeholders to make sure the business decisions align well with the design.
The usual responsibilities are: Speaking with different stakeholders, doing DT workshops, performing market research, come up with business models, plans for developing an MVP, etc.
🏛️ UX Architect
A UX architect is mainly responsible for laying out the structure and flow of a product.
They need to understand how the user will interact with the product and design the flow accordingly.
UX architects have a good understanding and a holistic view of the products architect. They also have an idea about the feasibility of a product. They need to know if certain design decisions can actually be implemented.
The UX architect sets up the plan or approach for a design project. The UX designers then implement it. In some cases, the UX architect also works as a UX designer to complete the design process.
🤓 Design Engineer
Design engineering is about designers who code. It’s well documented that it’s very handy for UX designers to learn front-end development to give them an edge in the market.
It’s gone from a “nice to have” to an important skillset. Knowing the code will give the designer a good idea about the feasibility of the product. Can the developers code the design we make?
The feasibility of a product’s development depends on the practicality of it. This can change according to the strategy and approach.
In addition to this, design engineers create more complex prototypes. Since prototyping features on tools like Figma and sketch are very limiting, the experience might not be as closer to the intended design during testing.
A design engineer can use code to build more sophisticated prototypes that include interactions, responsiveness, and animations.
This will result in better feedback responses.
🍭 Product designer
This is a bit of an all-in-one role. I know, this sounds a bit contradictory since we talked about how unicorn designers are a bad idea.
But product designers are not unicorn designers per see.
I think it’s fair to call it a hybrid ole than an all-in-one role since product design is about combining UX design with product strategy.
A product designer will be concerned with both the usability of the app as well as the goals of the business.
In other words, product designers need to know how to build solutions that achieve both the goals of the users and the company.
🔢 UX researcher and Insight Manager
Research is a very crucial part of user-centered design. And the user-centered design is completely focused on creating products based on actual feedback and not assumptions.
In order to achieve this, we need to conduct well-constructed user interviews and surveys.
The duties of UX researches involve conducting user research, interviews, and testing.
In addition to these, they will also perform competitor and market analysis.
In big corporates, many of the UX researchers are transforming their careers towards insights managers and taking care of the overall Insights of the application portfolio.
The insights of user research can be governed centrally and data and insights can be shared across the organization for different projects and products. Insights can help the UX Designers not to re-do the work and collect insights which are already been done in other projects.
There are other UX roles such as Design Animation Specialist, Visual Thinking and facilitation specialists, Content Strategist. However, in my view, these roles become more visible in organizations when UXers have the skills, motivations for the specialist role, and the organization has the capacity to consume these in the business.
Like many digital industries, UX is an ever-evolving one. As more companies start investing in their digital products, new areas of UX may appear.
It’s up to the designers to try different things and identify their best strengths so that they can focus on specializing in an area.
Like we discussed earlier, it’s always better to be a specialist than a generalist.
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